Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Seeing Is Believing...
Just as I was dropping off to sleep last night, one of my meandering neurons stumbled across a path that took me to Christmas Eve when I was a kid. I smiled at the long-forgotten memory, the year I was seven.
We lived in a small house back then. Perfect for a newly married couple, no problem for three, still doable when my sister arrived because we shared a bedroom, but when my baby sister joined the mix, the house was just too small for five and we moved not long after.
Because the bedroom wasn't very big, my sister and I slept in a trundle bed. I got the real bed, she got the part that pulled out at night. From the bottom of her bed I could see across the hall into the living room and watch the television. There wasn't much my parents watched that was interesting, it was just the fact I could do it without them knowing that was the daring part.
To make room for the Christmas tree, presents and stockings, the furniture had to be moved around the house, some stuff even out to the garage. The view from the bottom of the bed now was the tree and presents. I loved to lay there and watch the ornaments sparkle in the lights and imagine what treasures were under the tree.
That Christmas Eve, when I was seven, I woke up in the middle of the night. It was dark, and so very quiet, though I could hear my sister breathing, and when I listened hard, I could make out my father's snores from down the hall. I knew it was too early to get out of bed, too early to bounce across the mattress and run to the living room to see what Santa had brought us.
With that edgy kid-sense of doing something you shouldn't--part excitement, part terror--I crept to the bottom of my sister's bed and peered across the dark hallway to the living room. My parents had left the porch light on and a very small beam of light lay on the carpet, just enough for me to see the tree. I could still hear the soft rumble of my father's snores as I stared at the elf, dressed in red and white striped leggings and curly green shoes, with a funny hat that drooped on his head, one side caught on a pointy ear. I must have made a noise because he turned to look at me. We stared at each other for a minute, then fear kicked in and I scrambled back to bed, pulled the covers over my head and shook like a leaf from shock and fright.
I didn't think I could possibly sleep as I lay there wondering how to make it down the hall to my parents' bedroom, but the next thing I knew, it was morning and my sister was yelling that Santa had come, it was time to get up!
Some weeks earlier a girl at school had told us--the younger kids--that there really wasn't a Santa Claus. She seemed very sure of her facts and I had been teetering on the brink of losing my happy childish belief. Now I was really confused between what she'd said and what I'd seen the night before. While presents were opened, breakfast was made, and chaos reigned in a small house filled with children and excitement, I wondered how to tell my parents.
When I finally got up the courage, they told me, of course, that I'd been dreaming. No matter how I described what I'd seen, even down to the extra long nose and curly-toed shoes, it was nothing more--could be nothing more--than a dream or my vivid imagination. I even tried telling some of my friends at school, but they didn't believe me either.
And as it goes when we leave childhood behind, other things fill the empty spaces and we move on, grow up, and tell our children the stories we once believed ourselves.
I haven't told this tale since I was a little girl. No one was convinced then, and you dear readers probably aren't convinced now, though that's okay.
Because I know what I saw...