The Most Magical Christmas
When I think about the Christmas Eves of my childhood, I remember my father and his love for bells, any kind of bells—sleighbells; leather straps with rows of large, round, gold bells; brass cowbells. For my father the magic of Christmas would be lost without the sounds of bells.
When I was five, I had the most magical Christmas of all. On Christmas Eve my father, mother, older sister, and I all piled into my father’s old black Pontiac and drove through a blinding blizzard in the dark to spend Christmas on my great-grandfather’s farm. Huge snowflakes swirled in the beams of the car’s headlights as the roads became nearly impassable. My father didn’t even consider returning to our home. At home there would be no Christmas tree, no presents, no Christmas dinner, but I was too young to know that then. After two hours of driving, we saw the glowing windows of the farmhouse. We were finally there.
Later that night my sister and I snuggled together in a bed in the attic, covered with my great-grandmother’s colorful, patchwork quilt, giggling in anticipation. My sister always made me laugh, and then we’d both get in trouble which we did that night as the adults waited impatiently for our sleep to come. However, sleep escaped us. Then we heard it. Bells! Sleighbells! Santa was coming and we weren’t even asleep yet! We closed our eyes tightly and prayed for sleep while outside my father and great-grandfather circled the farmhouse shaking brown leather straps, filling the cold, sparkling Christmas Eve air with the joyful sounds of bells. We slept.
Early the next morning, my sister and I tiptoed barefoot down the cold attic stairs and opened the door to a brightly lit Christmas tree. There were stockings filled with fruit and candy and for my sister and me two stuffed Scottie dogs quilted with fabric scraps and filled with fragrant pine needles. My entire being glowed with happiness.
This Christmas, like all Christmases in the past, I get out the box from the basement, unwrap the tissue paper from around the Scottie dog, and sniff the pine needles inside. The fragrance is gone but the magic is not. The leather strap of gold bells hangs on a post in the basement, and my father’s favorite cowbell rests on a shelf in the dining room. At Christmas time memories stirred by the bells swirl around me. I am filled with my father’s love for me, and joy returns to my heart.