'Twas the Night Before Christmas
My parents, 81 years old, have been happily married for 61 years. Every year on Christmas Eve, one or both of them read the story of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas to whatever assemblage of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are present at the time. This year, they took turns reading. But I think our entire family could probably recite this story by heart.
On Christmas day afternoon, the whole family - six of us kids plus assorted others - comes to visit them at our childhood home (which my dad and his family constructed by hand, by the way; one of my older sisters was born in the house).
Several of my dad's brothers and sisters bought land on the hill there by Shade Mountain back in the 1950s around the same time he did. Two of his brothers are gone now but one sister is still living nearby (she being a baker of pies and maker of famously good jellies; a surprisingly good accordion player despite the loss of a finger; and as an older sister, loving my dad to pieces since the very moment he was born).
Every Christmas season when visiting family, I look around the room at each dear face, so happy to see them all, so grateful. And a tiny sad thought creeps in: how many more Christmases will all of those dear faces be present? But for this one, we are fortunate once again. And so I count my blessings and am thankful.
And once more, the beloved story begins.
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house.
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there [ . . . . ]
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!