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Christmas Comes Once a Year

When I wake up, I can feel the heavy lump at the end of my bed. My left foot jiggles the weight so the bell on my stocking will jingle. It is Christmas morning! This is the single best day of the year in our house. My mother will be happy all day. On this morning, I wake in my brother's room as I have every Christmas day. We sleep in the same room so we can open our stockings right when we wake up. When they hear the bell jingle, they wake right up. Matthew, my twin, sits up and starts opening presents before he is even fully awake. Christopher, who is just a year and a few months older than us, keeps his eyes closed. "Don't tell me what everything is! I want to see for myself." The stockings, made by the Women's Exchange in New York City, stretch to accommodate a ridiculous amount of wrapped presents, yet there were still some that don't fit in.
The shear amount of presents in the stocking would be enough for many children alone. It is overindulgent and that is why it is the most exciting day of the year. I feel as though my heart won't fit in my chest. I can barely contain my excitement. I rip and tear, uncovering each thing I asked for or am surprised by. I am done quickly with my stocking and after a quick survey of the scene, I open some new chocolate and the orange in the toe of my stocking. It is a huge juicy Navel orange. I imagine Santa stopping for these oranges that could only be grown in Florida near where we will spend our Spring holiday.

It has only been fifteen minutes, but we cannot stand it any longer. We agree that Christopher will go wake our mother and stepfather. She responds best to him. I hear her ask what time it is and say in a voice thick with sleep, "Merry Christmas!" It is only 6:05. She says we must wait until 7:00. We know the answer, we heard it, but we still feel disappointed when Christopher comes back in to tell us. We decide to sit back on our beds amidst the wadded up, shredded wrapping paper and new toys to count and play with our treasure.

At 7:00, my mother appears at the door with her blonde hair brushed back, her glossy chapsticked lips, and a fluffy white bathrobe. She tells us she is going to start coffee and breakfast while my stepfather sets up the room. We know that it must be perfect before we can come in the room. My mother has worked hard on this, the most important day of the year for her. She likes everything to feel magical and insanely over the top. As my stepfather turns the lights on the tree and starts the train going round it, we hop up and down around the corner at the end of the bedroom hall. He shouts things like, "I wish Santa had come! Too bad there isn't anything out here!" We squeal and shout and hop some more. This is all part of the Christmas game. Santa always comes to our house, even the year my father told us that Santa wasn't real. He was mad at my mother that day, but it wasn't true!

Just when we can't stand it anymore, my mother comes out of the kitchen with Stollen, Coffee and Orange Juice and we know it is time. "Okay!," she says. "Merry Christmas!" At that, we race into the living room screaming so loudly I'm surprised neighbors never complained. It is Christmas and I am with my boys. This is the day of the year when nothing will disappoint us. We smile at each other happily and start unwrapping our gifts.


  1. I love this story of your Christmas growing up. In many ways like my own. My parents always took movies of us on Christmas morning, so Mom would hold the heavy row of lights, and Dad would have the camera as we were cued to walk in and take our first look at the loot. These movies are so precious to us.

  2. I love the immediacy with which you wrote this...may I share this with my kiddos as a mentor text?

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Nice to hear your memories of that special morning, Kimberley. Marry Christmas!


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