My earliest memory is lying in bed between my parents on Christmas Eve – I was almost 4. I wouldn’t stay in my own bed so I’d been transferred to a snug spot between my parents to prevent another escape. As a typical toddler, I was nearly out of my mind with excitement & was convinced I would never fall asleep. The lights were out, I was squirming, my Mom was shh-ing & my dad was snickering. Suddenly, I heard a faint jingling sound. Could it be…? No. Couldn’t be. Then again, the sound of bells – louder this time. “SANTA!” I went from fully prone under the covers to standing on top of the quilt in one fluid movement. I heard light tapping – that had to be reindeer hooves on the roof, right? My Dad said, “I bet that’s Santa. You better get back under those covers & get to sleep or he won’t be able to leave your gifts!” I got back under those covers with the same ninja-like speed, & the next thing I knew, it was morning.
I’m sure my memory has some gaps & I find it funny that I was so gullible to believe my dad shaking bells off his side of the bed & my mom tapping the wall on her side was Santa & his reindeer. Oh the innocence of a child.
Both my parents were avid readers & they had passed their love of books on to me. We had read “A Visit From Santa Claus” from my collection of Little Golden Books to set the stage for their Christmas shenanigans. It worked. The story itself was dancing in my head like those sugarplums – even though I really had no idea what a sugarplum was.
First published December 23, 1823, “A Visit From Saint Nick” may be the most recognized poem in America. Recited in virtually every elementary school Christmas pageant, referenced in movies from “Christmas Vacation” to “Die Hard”, adapted by radio, television & even comics, there really isn’t a more universally appealing Christmas tale.
My book was treasured not only for the story, but because of the memories attached to it. It’s a classic tale, handed down from generation to generation, a precious reminder of all we loved about Christmas when we were young & innocent enough to think maybe, just maybe, the story was real.
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