Christmas Eve, the Most Serene Night of All

Suffice it to say, Christmas comes at you faster than a falling star.

            Just four days, and old Saint Nick and Prancer, Dancer, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Dasher, Vixen and Blitzen will be on their way out of town just before dawn, with Rudolph leading ‘em back to the North Pole for a hiatus and a respite from what has been a long 2020 with the coronavirus.

            So, Christmas Day will be merry and bright.

            Except for all of the gift-wrapping paper that’ll be strewn all over your living room or den, and your blue recycling receptacles in wait.

            I love Christmas.

            But not like Christmas Eve with the anticipation of Santa’s arrival, but the true meaning of Christmas with the birth of Jesus Christ. I’m old school as you get. I believe in the word of my Lord and savior and the story of more than 2,000 years ago.

            I still believe in Santa Claus, too.

            But I love Christmas Eve most of all in what I find the most serene night of every year. I love twilight falling and last-minute shoppers. I love driving to the cemetery at Cypress Springs Presbyterian Church up Woodlake way in Moore County, and lighting the red candle as I visit with Mama and remember our Christmas Eves together. The flickering glow of the flame reflecting off of her tombstone engraved with “Mama” is poignant, and I’ve never missed a Christmas Eve since Dec. 17, 2009, without being at her gravesite and just for Mama to know Marian McNeill McMillan Kirby was the blessing of a son’s life.

 

Memories of Mama

 

            The memories of Christmas Eves past with Mama are close to my heart.

            We always went to the church candlelight service and couldn’t help but marvel when Connie Johnson or Miriam McNeill would sing “O Holy Night,” from the sanctuary loft. Then it was back home for a cocktail glass of eggnog, with a jigger of Jim Beam and a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg by the Christmas tree with the soft, white and tiny lights.

            Mama would reminisce about Christmas Eve candlelight services at Vass Presbyterian Church when she was a young girl, and not to forget receiving a brown bag of fruit and nuts from Santa Claus. She would remember her daddy’s annual sojourn into the woods behind the home place where she grew up with her Mama, sisters and brother, and “Papa” coming back with a fresh-cut pine tree.

            “We would string popcorn on sewing thread for decorations,” Mama would say. “We didn’t have much. But we had each other, and we were happy.”

            Mama would tell stories of hurrying to bed on those cold Christmas Eve nights in her childhood home with the wrap-around front porch, and scrunching underneath mounds of quilts in anticipation that old Saint Nick soon would be guiding his sleigh to the top of the tin roof and soon-to-be heading down the chimney. Don’t know how Prancer, Dancer, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Dasher, Vixen, Blitzen and Rudolph with their hooves managed that tin roof, but that’s, you gotta believe, the mystique of flying reindeer

 

Magical and Majestic

 

            I love Christmas Eve.

            It’s magical.

            Homes are cozy, some subtle with a spotlight shining on a front door with a Christmas wreath glittering in the night. Or the holiday lights flashing over at Geo and Chelsea Livington’s home along Mirror Lake Road or over at John and Lacy Kells’ home on Sylvan Road. And there’s thoughts of youngsters fast asleep early, but not before leaving a glass of milk and a dish of cookies for Saint Nick because the midnight ride is long and there’s little time for the jolly old fellow to tarry.

            Magical and majestic, because Joy to The World, The Lord Is Come” is a hymn to believe in for more than 2 billion Christians who hold that day in Bethlehem sacred.

            Call me old school for sure.

            I believe in the greatest story ever told, and I’m going to keep right on believing in Santa Claus, too.

 

Epilogue

 

            To all of our CityView Magazine and CityView Newsletter readers, I wish each of you a Merry Christmas, and don’t forget to leave the milk and cookies for Santa before you head off to bed on Christmas Eve. Use your imagination from a time of innocence, give a listen and you just may hear old Santa as he guides his sleigh out of sight.

            “Happy Christmas to all,” you may hear Santa exclaim, “and to all a good night.”

            Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at bkirby@cityviewnc.com, billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961