As a kid I had only one Christmas tradition that I can recall, the tradition of trying to catch Santa in the act of distributing gifts. Year after year I would wake up in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve and make my way to the Christmas tree, hoping to catch a peek at the big man in red. One particular memory that I recalled the other day is especially vivid.
I was a young boy, probably around six or so and we lived in a very small town west of Richmond. The house was an older two story house that was painted a canary yellow with white trim, I always loved that house. It was one of those wonderful snowy Christmases, straight off of a Christmas card from the 50s, the only thing missing was the horse-drawn carriage draped in bows and ribbon. It was the dead of night and the snow was flying and I was on my way quietly down the stairs, careful not to wake my parents and even more importantly scare Santa away.
After what seemed like a lifetime I reached the bottom of the stairs and made my way to large set of pocket doors that separated me from the magical room full of presents on the other side. The trick, I knew, was going to be to open those doors as quickly quietly as possible before Santa could vanish into thin air. I hooked my tiny hands into the grips and pulled them apart slowly. In the room, darkness.
I could barely make my way through the room to the tree it was so dark. My eyes were fully adjusted to the dark and still nothing. I crept forward slowly, my arms stretched out hoping to grasp something familiar. Finally my leg bumped into something, startling me a little. I moved my hands around to feel what it was, it was cold and hard, like metal. I stood for a moment staring in the direction of the object and noticed that I could see moonlight reflecting off parts of it. Still, it was just too dark, I’d have to wait until the morning, mere hours away, before I’d find out what it was.
Until the first hint of daylight came I lay in bed, my mind caught in a whirlwind of imagination. What could it be? Is it even mine? Maybe it’s Mitchell’s present and not mine? Finally I thought it late enough to drag the parents out of bed and down into the room of presents.
To our surprise my brother Mitchell and I find that downstairs waiting for us is the metal object I had stumbled upon in the night. Two matching BMX bicycles sit in the middle of the floor, identical in every way save the cloth seat covers, each in a different color checked pattern. What cruelty the weather had in its heart for us that day, two brand new bikes and countless inches of snow on the ground.