This little tale debuted on this page last year. Reading it over, I still can't think of a better way to say Happy Holidays to all my friends and visitors to this site. Thank you for stopping by during the past year and for all your words of encouragement.
I wish you nothing but the best of happiness, health and unbuttoned pants this Holiday Season.
With love and thanks,
Thump-thump, thump-thump, thumpity-thump thump.
Robbie's heart pounded in his ears. Lying in bed, face pressed against the pillow, it was the only sound he heard. The big red numbers on his clock said three-twelve. Silence filled the room like water. He felt like he was drowning in quiet.
Faintly, Robbie could feel sleep trying to pull him down into dreams, but his mind was racing much too fast to worry about sleeping at a time like this.
A sudden whooshing from outside made him bolt upright, sending sheets and pillows flying as he sprang from the bed. His heart ratcheted up another notch. This could be the clue he was waiting for. With three quick steps, Robbie ran to his window, ducked under the heavy shade and stared out. The winter-kissed glass was cool against his flushed forehead.
Outside on the road, he saw the tail lights of a red pickup truck just disappearing at the end of the otherwise deserted road. There was nothing more to see out there but the neat piles of snow along the curb, bathed in the streetlights' amber glow.
Anticipation was killing Robbie. He'd waited so long, planned so completely, it was hard to believe that in just a few hours, everything he'd prepared for would come to pass.
Directly below his window, he could see the imposing shape of a snowman he and Jamie had constructed yesterday. Robbie's own blue and red toque was perched on its head at an angle. No answers there.
Slowly, Robbie became aware of the soothing cool of the window giving way to the sharp, crisp pain of real cold. He backed away from the glass, rubbing his forehead.
What was that? Footsteps? Where were they coming from? Robbie crept carefully to his door and listened. He mustn’t let them know he was listening, that he was awake. A long moment passed, then another, and another. The sound inside the house was not repeated.
Probably just my heart again, he thought, walking back to the small bed with its colourful sheets. Seeing the tiny, precious book he'd squirreled away beneath his pillow reminded him of the stories he'd heard about tonight.
What was more, it reminded him of the rules. He was breaking the rules.
Dread filled his body, making him shiver as if snow had been dumped down his back. Oh, this was wrong, all wrong. Though he hadn't thought it possible, his heart sped up even more, pounding painfully in his chest.
How could he have been so foolish?
He sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake.
He knows. Oh no, thought Robbie. I'm ruining everything. It's all my fault.
Throwing himself down on the bed, he began to weep helpless tears into his pillow. His sobs were hard enough to shake the bed. Clutching the little book of songs to his chest, he sent his panicked thoughts out to the world, I'm in bed. I'm in bed. See? It's okay! It's...
His next thought was broken off by a jaw-popping yawn.
As it has a way of doing in the wee hours of the morning, the need to sleep finally pushed through all other concerns, and made it perfectly clear that it would not be ignored any longer.
Robbie pulled his heavy, soft Monster Truck blanket back up around his ears. Maybe things could still be okay… maybe. He yawned again and, while he was looking at the tiny red and white figure on the front of his book, fell fast asleep.
"Wake up. Wake up Robbie!"
Robbie was jolted out of sleep. Before he could make sense of what was going on, Jamie had raced across the room and sent his window shade flapping up to the top of the window with a single hard snap. It was still early, but the golden light of dawn streaked across the room, and Robbie had to squint against it.
A moment later, Jamie had returned to the bedside and was tugging at his arm, "Wake up! It's Christmas!”
It came, thought Robbie, it really came. He had a brief moment in which he felt nothing but relief. Then, the magic of the morning overwhelmed his senses, and he jumped out of bed into his big brother's arms.
Laughing, and practically bouncing with excitement, they ran to wake up Mommy and Daddy.
It was time for Christmas, after all.