I lay in bed listening intently, but the anticipation of what was to come had my heart pounding so hard, it seemed any noise could not be as loud as that in my chest. It was Christmas Eve; well, actually it was Christmas Day!
I recall the clock on the mantel striking every half-hour and then on the hour. Mother said I had to be in bed and asleep before Santa would come. There was no Christmas tree before Christmas Day. Santa would bring it. So there was work to be done! No wonder mother and daddy wanted me in bed. That meant immediately after our visiting Santa (always a favorite uncle) came to see if I had been a "good little girl" and request I sing him a song, I was scooted off to bed!
I assured Santa I had been very good, without question, and sang the song which he requested. My brothers and sister usually were not in agreement with what I said about being good, however!
Each year I would wait for mother and daddy to turn out the lights downstairs and climb the squeaky staircase to their bedroom. A bit of a glow would shine from behind their partially closed door. When that went out I thought it was safe to sneak downstairs and see the array of gifts under our huge, dazzling, glowing Christmas tree. Each family member always had a pile of gifts stacked neatly under the tree, with a big bowl of fruit and nuts.
Several times I quietly got out of bed and peeked down the hall to see if mother and daddy's light had been turned off. Finally, it appeared it had, and I tiptoed, not making even a tiny sound, toward the stairs. Getting almost to their room, I saw just a faint glimmer of light, but being so anxious, I decided I would quietly go on past their room and down the stairs.
As I got to the door, I peeked in, hopefully they would not see me. Just as I did, I saw mother and daddy kneeling beside the bed! I stood there motionless. In a few minutes, as I continued watching, they arose, kissed good night and embraced tenderly (mother in her flannel nightie and daddy always in his long flannel nightshirt). The light dimmed and I snuck down the steps, and over the railing I gazed in awe at our magnificent, gleaming Christmas lights. Hard as I tried going down the last few steps, there was a squeak! It didn't bother me! I thought that surely no one heard me as I stared at the abundant gifts and candy. However, as I sat down on the floor, almost immediately mother and daddy, as well as my sister Ruby and brothers Clyde and Wayne were on the floor beside me.
Yes, it was Christmas, and it was wonderful, and each Christmas thereafter remained so all my years at home! However, the most precious gift and memory I received over the years and never to be forgotten, was that of mother and daddy kneeling beside the bed, and their good night kiss and embrace. They never did get to sleep, but that's the way Christmas was at our house!
You know, some gifts can't be bought with money, and still they are priceless!