Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Day before the Night before Christmas
It was the longest day of the year when I was a kid.  By now I would have visualized every aspect of the gift that Santa was sure to bring, and imagined every possible joy it would immediately satisfy.  After a month that seemed like a year it would finally be down to hours before the Man in the red suit would deliver on his mission. 
Of course I knew the rules from the song: "He sees you when your sleeping, he knows if you're awake... he knows if you've been bad or good so be good for goodness sake...", but I would take a more pragmatic approach to these Santa rules. 

1) He sees you when your sleeping.  I figured since I fooled my parents several times into thinking that I was a sleep when I wasn't over my brief years, Santa could be just as easily fooled.
2) He knows if you're awake.  See the above.  If I could fool parents into thinking that I was asleep, then I have also fooled them that I am awake. Santa would not catch on either.  I was that good at it.
3) He knows if you've been bad or good.  A challenging problem to overcome, to say the least. My hope rested on the idea that Santa had a short memory. If I was good for the last few weeks before Christmas that would count for the entire year. Since it had worked in the past, I figured that it would work every time.
4) So be good for goodness sake.  Easy. Even at an early age I realized that absent an accurate lie detector test, no one would know if I was good for "goodness sake" or good for the "gift's sake". I could claim to be good for goodness sake knowing the real reward would be delivered on Dec. 25th.

Taking all this into consideration.  It was not unusual for me to cat nap for the whole of Christmas Eve listening for rustling of reindeer in the living room.  We had no chimney so I knew I would hear the door open when he came.  Occasionally I would wake up enough to sneak into the living room to see if Santa had arrived yet. With covert skills  in the dark of night I would try and determine if Santa had visited already.  If I decided he had been to my house already, it would be impossible to go back to sleep  till sunrise knowing my gift was already there waiting for me.
If I determined that Santa had not been there already it would be impossible to go back to sleep listening for him.  Either way sleep was out of the question.
When I was five years old I sneaked into the Living room and saw a large man in a red suit duck behind the Christmas tree so as not to be seen.  I remember that moment to this day.  It was dark and details were sketchy even then, but I knew who it was. I ran into my parents room and woke them up to tell them I had seen Santa Claus.  It was a mixture of excitement and fear hoping that seeing him was not a deal breaker which would immediately put my name on the bad list.
I don't remember my brother nor sister being quite so nocturnal on Christmas Eve. They were secure in the knowledge that when they woke up Christmas morning the celebrating could begin and they did not have to encourage it along through out the night.
I have been told through the years that my folks were very glad when that phase of my childhood gave way to others so they could get some sleep the night before Christmas.  Later in my life the Johnsons would celebrate Christmas Eve and open all presents the night before so that those who wanted to sleep in late on Christmas morning, my Dad, could do so with ease.

Whatever makes you happy tonight and tomorrow I hope you have a sleigh full of it.  There is not doubt that Christmas has been co-opted by commercialism.  Sure the religious aspects of the holiday have been merged with the pagan Solstice.  However all that happened a long time ago so get over it.  Just think of it as the ancients deciding to celebrate the birthday of Jesus at a time when everyone could attend.  A time when they were going to party anyway.  Besides it is not hard to open you heart once a year and count your blessings for whatever you give and receive.  It's not like you have to be good for the rest of the year.
Merry Christmas.
As you were,


Aaron & Judy said...

Merry Christmas to you and yours! One of my blessings is having your sister be my neighbor and friend so many years ago, and getting to know you (mainly through here) these past few years!!!

Anonymous said...

A tale well told!
Merry Christmas to you and your family!!
I look forward to all your future blogs and
seeing you again at Vent Haven ConVENTion 2012.

Tom Farrell

Bob Conrad said...

Merry Christmas Jay, and oh, sleep well tonight!