I woke early this morning, memories of past Christmas mornings causing me to expect to hear the sound of our sons talking in low whispers as they pick through their Christmas stockings. Instead I hear the silence that comes with the gentle rise and fall of my wife sleeping, and not a peep from the living room that sits beyond the closed bedroom door.
It was 1976 and I was 6 1/2 years old that Christmas. I remember laying in bed on Christmas Eve in the top bunk as my older brother slept quietly in his bunk below. Our family had come home from the Christmas Eve service at our church a few hours before, and we had already made it through a family tradition of opening just one simple gift before going to bed. After seven kids my parents had learned that giving us that one gift was like slowly turning a pressure valve that probably gave them at least a little more sleep on Christmas morning. As I lay there it was like something out of Clement Clarke Moore’s story “Twas the Night Before Christmas”, you know with children nestled in bed and visions of sugar plumbs dancing in their heads – but for me it was toys. I was thinking about all of the stuff I had wanted and wondering what would be waiting for me under that tree. That’s when the most amazing thing happened. Continue reading