The Sounds of Christmas
By Valerie L. Egar
Winter has arrived. I hear it when I’m very quiet and listen.
The fireplace crackles, warming the house. Snow taps on the windowpanes and wind howls through the trees. Walking outside, my boots crunch in the snow. If I reach up and break an icicle off the shed roof, it snaps. When I hit the other icicles with it, they shatter and sound like breaking glass.
I hear a cardinal calling and a wild canary tweeting at the birdfeeder. A neighbor’s dog barks. A big snowplow rumbles along the street clearing snow. Snowmobiles zoom in the nearby field.
Christmas is getting closer. I close my eyes and hear it. The electric mixer whirs. Bowls and cookie sheets clatter in the kitchen. The oven door opens with a quiet click. Ding, ding, ding! The timer rings to say the cookies are done and the oven door clicks open again.
Time to decorate the Christmas tree! Mom wrapped a few ornaments in tissue and the paper crinkles as they’re unwrapped. An ornament shaped like a bell jingles. Another plays “Silent Night.” Oops! I dropped a glass one by accident and it smashed on the floor. That isn’t a nice sound. The vacuum makes a lot of noise sweeping it up.
When Christmas gets even closer, every TV ad yells “Christmas Sale!” I shop with Dad and Christmas carols play in every store, even stores for auto parts. Our doorbell rings often with the delivery person leaving boxes I’m not allowed to open.
Wherever I go, I overhear people talking about Christmas. “What should I get Uncle Frank this year?” “Do you want to help me wrap?” “Don’t forget, Santa’s watching!”
Christmas is a few days away. Mom streams Christmas music all day and dances around the house. When we go out at night, Dad drives down streets we don’t usually drive on to see outdoor Christmas decorations and we sing. At home, popcorn popping means we’re going to watch a good Christmas movie.
The day before Christmas has extra special sounds. Our teacher saying, “See you next year!” Mom and Dad’s car doors slamming— they’re home early! Announcements over the loud speakers at the train station when we pick Grandma and Aunt Carmela up. So many people are travelling, the station is noisy. Grandma exclaims, “You’ve grown!” when she sees me. Aunt Carmela asks, “How are you doing in school?”
On Christmas Eve, Grandma reads me “The Night Before Christmas” and because I like my book about turtles, she reads that to me, too. I go to bed really, really early, but I can’t sleep, so I open my window a tiny bit and try to hear Santa’s sleigh bells. I think I do, but they’re still far away. A car honks and our neighbor’s cat meows to go inside.
When I wake up, it’s 5:00. The only thing I hear is the clock ticking. No one is up yet. I run down the stairs and see presents under the tree. I yell, “Come see! Santa was here!”
Mom, Dad, Grandma and Aunt Carmela trudge downstairs. The sound I remember best after that is tearing paper and happy laughter and for some reason, a few loud yawns.
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Copyright 2018 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be copied, reproduced or distributed without permission from the author.
Published December 8, 2018 Biddeford Journal Tribune (Biddeford, ME).