‘Twas the night before Christmas

Published 1:45 am Wednesday, December 24, 2008

‘Twas the night before Christmas

By Tracy Williams

Guest Columnist

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‘Twas the Night before Christmas and all through my house were twin boys stirring and one tired spouse. For we had traveled far to transfer our Christmas event from the mountains of North Alabama to the hills of Mississippi. And so it went.

The stockings, giant red velvet boot shaped bags, trimmed in white fur, were hanging on the mantle, but not for long. Have you ever been able to hang one of those suckers back up after it’s filled to the brim with cheap toys and candy? It is all wrong.

Yet, they were hung with care since St. Nicholas hadn’t been there.

No children were nestled in bed, still on a soon to be toy high while visions of Star Wars ships danced in their heads.

As the mom of this gang, I put on my comfy pajamas and prepared for the long night, recounting all the presents on my mental list and hoping I remembered it all. Reliving the trip down and hoping all the hidden presents were found.

Did I get it all done again? Did I forget something important? Can I survive yet another Christmas of stress?

For 21 years, I have been playing Christmas with small children. It never gets old even though I am getting older and my mental capacity is getting slower. Who doesn’t love the delight of children waking up on the big day and finding that Santa disregarded all the naughty behaviors, the ugly words, the fighting, the lying about homework, and the million messes?

When I wake up on Christmas morning, I have the warmest of emotions since I will have all four boys under one roof. It will be a good Polaroid moment although the digital photos that will be taken will reveal distracted kids and piles of paper, not really good photos.

I will have moments of wishing that I had loads of money and the gifts would reflect that bank account. I never feel completely satisfied that I gave enough. It is not a guilt factor but a heart that would want to give more, as is with all my presents. Yes, I wish I were Oprah.

‘Twas still the night before, and I will threaten the kids with the standard parent threat, if you don’t get to sleep Santa will not be able to come by. It works to get them in their bed, but does little for getting them to fall into slumber. Eventually, exhaustion will set in and they will succumb.

That’s when on the lawn there will arise such a clatter, of hidden presents being drug out of the car, the shed, the attic, the closet, or wherever Santa keeps his stash.

If the gift bearing dude can keep the noise down, then little twins will stay asleep and I won’t frown.

The fable lives on in the Williams household for at least one more year and I would hate to disillusion the story with the sight of a redneck Santa all dressed in flannel and torn jeans.

The weather report shows warm and foggy, so Rudolph will be needed for sure, or at least that Garmin GPS thingamajig. No moon, no snow, no cold for Mississippians who will no doubt have to turn on the air conditioner. Now that is just wrong, but typical.

Now as Santa is preparing to assemble and place the somewhat wrapped presents by the tiny tree near the fireplace, the only reindeer in sight are the deer heads and antlers displayed on the cabin wall. Let us hope Dad is not aiming when the ten point Dancer comes to the roof or Santa may lose some deer power to pull his sleigh and the twins will have deer chili for Christmas day. Dash away Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, watch out Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen! To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall! Get out of range lest you should fall!

It is Mississippi and the deer season is still open!

As for Santa, his eyes twinkled though tired and his dimples were merry! His beard was stubble and his hair was red, standing over six feet tall, not round and fat, but merely well fed.

He had a broad face and a little round belly that shook when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly. (He might not like that part, but that is in the original poem.)

He was tall, handsome and a jolly middle-aged elf, and I laughed when I saw him in spite of myself. For he was the biggest kid of them all, my 40 year old husband, did I mention he was tall?

He spoke not a word, since the cabin walls are thin and in the next room were two curious twins.

He finished his task, the deed was now done. Another year of Santa, probably his last to play for his sons.

As we settled in bed, a kiss on the cheek, two exhausted parents must try to sleep. In the warm muggy air in the far off Mississippi woods, the magic of the night slips into day and before the rooster crows, the energized twins will be up.

Somehow, amongst all the materialism, we will try to enjoy the family tradition, gathering and sharing our selves with each other, which is more important than any gift card. Then, we must try to put into perspective the reason for the season, the true gift we celebrate. I recommend sharing the biblical passage, the story of the birth of Jesus the night before Christmas.

Remember the Reason for the season; embrace your friends and family!

I will exclaim to all my readers, “Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all and to all have a good night.