For Ottawa dad Chris Hunt, the magic of Christmases past and present provide fuel for the soul
It was a mere minute past midnight and I was cowering in a stairwell. Outside, the only thing colder than the black night was the ice and snow that seemingly covered every visible square inch.
Before me lay a fog of shadow and darkness. It was intimidating yet also beckoning, for nestled within that swirling oasis was a bounty of wonderful things just waiting to be taken.
Behind me was my sister Jennifer. She too, hoped to share the spoils that lay before us.
I dipped my feet into the darkness and took a few tepid steps forward. It took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the lack of light, but when they did, I saw dozens of packages scattered on the floor.
Before we could rip into any of them, I noticed we weren’t alone. Asleep on a nearby couch were two sentries. At least so I thought until one of those shadows bolted straight up and turned on a light.
We were busted.
It was Christmas morning and my sister and I were pillaging our presents. If I remember correctly, my letter to Santa that year had been very modest. I simply asked for one of everything.
When my father sent us to bed that Christmas Eve, we told him that technically as soon as it was past midnight we should be allowed to open presents.
He laughed, nodded and urged us to bed. But we didn’t sleep. We watched the clock until it hit midnight and then we made our way downstairs.
I’m not sure why my parents decided to sleep on the couch, but boy, was my mother furious as she turned on that light.
My father though, was bemused. He shrugged and told us to wake my other siblings, which just enraged my mother further.
Christmas was for kids, he offered meekly.
He wore a sheepish smirk as he watched us open presents, probably amused at how adorably devious his children were.
Since I’ve become a father, there are few things I appreciate more than seeing my son happy.
Last year I took a temporary position at my company, and while it was a very fulfilling job, it was also the most stressful responsibility I’ve ever had. I’d often lay awake at night fretting over details, mulling possible mistakes. The only thing that would see me to sleep were the memories of my son at his happiest or wittiest. Some people count sheep to get to sleep, I think of my son doing his happy dance, or sassing his mom.
These memories provide a reprieve, a sanctuary I can flee to for even just a few moments a day. Christmas provides a wealth of these memories, fuel for the year to come. There’s just something inherently beautiful at seeing the spark of wonder in his twinkling eyes
Which is why I wasn’t looking forward to the holidays this year.
Last year at Christmas, my son told me he didn’t believe Santa existed. I was floored. I knew one day he’d stop believing, but surely six was too young. He would later say he was just kidding, but I feared he said so for my benefit.
Fast forward to this year.
I was worried the magic of the season would ebb and that spark of wonder in his eyes on Christmas morning would be dimmed, if not extinguished this year.
The night we put up our Christmas decorations my son was tossing and turning in his bed. I asked him what was wrong.
“Daddy?” He said. “You know Santa?”
Here we go. This is it.
“Well, he’s coming soon Daddy. You better be good.”
A perfect wave of warmth surged through me. I get one more year. At least. On a side note, I made the mistake of asking him what he wanted for Christmas. His answer was simple, just one of everything.