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  • Writer's pictureTodd Stevens

Old time Christmas

Christmas Eve was the longest day of the year when I was a grade school aged kid. The anticipation was agonizing. Montana back in those days was usually bitterly cold by Christmas Day. The whole family would be together in the house with a roaring fire burning in the woodstove. The aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg mixed with fresh pine from the tree permeated the air. The tree was beautiful too, all done up in silver and blue. Our stockings hung to the side of the wood stove, and packages in beautiful shiny green and red paper were arranged under the tree, tantalizing, calling our names. Our kitchen table was piled with trays of cookies, candy, fudge…just about every treat you could imagine. Of course, they were arranged for looks & not for eating until much later. Dark would come early on those long, long winter evenings and it was the only night of the year I was anxious to get to bed because I didn’t want Santa to pass our house by. We were allowed to open a gift on Christmas Eve, almost like a little appetizer for the main event the next morning, then off to bed we went after leaving cookies and milk for the big man. I remember laying in the dark trying my best to fall asleep quickly so morning would come faster, but it always eluded me. Finally I’d get up and try to look out the frost covered window. I’d have to melt a little spot with the palm of my hand to see out onto the silvery snow…would I catch a glimpse of him? I’d tip toe carefully out of my room and to my sister Shannon’s door. “Shannon…are you awake??” She whispered back, “Yes…go to bed…Santa!!” Somehow I’d coerce her into coming into my room where we’d sit alternately whispering to one another and listening for Santa, Occasionally we would peek out the door into the living room, praying to catch that elusive glimpse of Santa. Somewhere around 3:30 A.M. we would start to debate if we could wake mom and dad up. By 4:00 it was too much to bear and we’d tip toe to their room and wake them. Mom would look at the clock, “You guys…it’s 4:10 in the morning??” But they’d get up. “Let us get some coffee first.” Internally (You’ve got to be KIDDING ME...) We would always be reminded the real reason for Christmas was Jesus’s birth, and then we’d go in and check out our stockings & rip gifts open like a starved pack of wolves, each present followed by a round of “oh my gosh, this is EXACTLY what I wanted, THANK YOU!” After the presents had been decimated we would finally notice the milk and cookies half eaten & my Dad would say, “Let’s go out and see if we can see where his sleigh landed.” We’d put on snow boots and jackets over our pajamas and we’d walk out and look at the roof, and damned if their weren’t reindeer tracks, sleigh runner marks, and even deer poop up there…the Santa we knew left a lot of well thought out evidence It’s been almost 50 years since those days now, but I still feel that magic every year, I haven’t forgotten. Thank you Mom and Dad for those lifelong memories To all my adult children, and of course my baby boy Holden, he does live out there if you want him too. Keep that candle burning in the frosty window for Santa. Merry Christmas!

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