A Kid of Christmas Past


He stands before the Christmas tree in his sleeper, the warm and snuggly one-piece pajama that has feet to slide over the carpeted floors. Captured by the flash of a camera, he looks slightly surprised, and a little bit haunted. He will not know why – he will never know why – there is a distance to his being loved. The quiet ones just don’t demand it that way. The wonder of Christmas does manage to transform – for a night, for a day, for the week away from school – and even though he is not in school yet he senses the difference.

In church babies younger than him cry and crowd into the cathedral, with parents dressed up and decked out as if going to a party. They have family dinners to attend, relatives to dismiss and impress, drinks to disguise, and quiet corners to find. We seem to want to escape these days as eagerly as we anticipate them. He knows nothing of this yet, and what he has heard of Santa feels too suspect, too unreal, and his mind will never quite get around it enough to believe. He is, already, inaccessible – perhaps the worst thing for a child to be. But it’s Christmas Eve, and he knows enough to pretend.

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