I have a confession to make: Christmas Eve is my favourite day of the year. I like it better than Christmas Day. To me, the true magic of the season lies in the anticipation and lead up to the big day rather than the big day itself. I love the peaceful stillness that fills the house after everyone has gone to bed on Christmas Eve. But there’s also an undercurrent of excitement, a quiet hum of anticipation for the coming morning. It’s unlike any other night of the year. And in my house growing up, my mother would often cook our turkey on Christmas Eve, so that when you went to bed, the house smelled oh, so wonderful. To this day, the smell of a cooked turkey brings back memories of sleepless nights impatiently waiting to see what Santa brought for me.
When I was a kid, in that little two room schoolhouse I told you about, we had Christmas concerts, just like any other school. One year I got this crazy idea to memorize the entire ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas poem and recite it at the school Christmas concert. I don’t know what possessed my little 8 year old self to tackle such a challenge, but tackle it I did. I spent weeks learning the poem, going over and over it in my mind. The idea was to recite the poem for a couple younger school kids, as if I was telling them the story by the fireplace. My teacher would prompt me if I forgot my line.
When the day of the concert came, I was a nervous wreck. My stomach was in knots as the time ticked closer to my performance. When my big moment arrived, I froze. I couldn’t do it. I had a major case of stage fright. My teacher and the crowd tried to cajole me into performing, but I was having none of it. No way, no how. I was not going on that stage.
My parents were none too pleased with me and I was disappointed in myself. I think I realized that my rather tenuous short-term memory was not going to survive all those faces staring expectantly at me. But I also regretted not at least attempting it, which goes to show the old adage is true: you only regret the things you didn’t do in life.
We don’t often get do-overs in this life, so I’m going to take mine now. So here I am, reciting (from memory) the now infamous poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore, for my 8 year old self. Better late than never!
I wish you all joy and happiness in the coming week! Merry Christmas!