I think 1959 was the first Christmas Eve that I can still remember. I was 6 years old at the time.
What made that particular Christmas Eve more memorable than all of the others before or since? It wasn’t that I received some amazing present. Our family customarily exchanges gifts on Christmas morning, not on Christmas Eve.
No, I remember that particular Christmas Eve because my family was visiting friends in a little town in South Texas. I was spending the night with my oldest childhood friend, Craig Landrum. I think Craig and I had first started playing together when we were both one-year-olds, and we’ve been friends ever since.
Craig’s bedroom door opened out into the living room where his parents and mine were talking, and where his family’s Christmas tree was located.
I think Craig was the one who came up with the idea: we would try to stay up late and catch Santa Claus in the act of delivering our presents. See, it wasn’t because we wanted an early jump on opening presents. We knew we’d get to open presents soon enough anyway. No, it was because at that age we both still believed in Santa, and we wanted to see him with our own eyes.
There was a tiny gap between Craig’s bedroom door and the floor. We took turns lying on our sides on the floor, our heads as close to the gap as possible, trying to see into the other room. No matter how hard we tried to press our heads to the floor, all we could see was a little bit of floor on the other side of the door. While we waited, I remember we talked about whether Santa would take our presents back if he caught us watching him.
The only other thing I remember about that evening, or the following morning for that matter, is that we eventually gave up waiting for Santa and fell asleep. I have no recollection of any presents I ended up getting that Christmas, but I do remember sharing that special time with my friend Craig.
Craig and I don’t get to see each other much anymore. He and his wife are now Christian missionaries in a small town in Spain. It’s a very long way from Texas to Spain. Each of us has our own family now, and each of us has made many new friends. But I always think of Craig on Christmas Eve and remember that night we tried to catch Santa in the act.
At this time of year, I celebrate the birth of my lord and savior, Jesus Christ. Regardless of what holiday you celebrate, I hope that you are creating wonderful memories, surrounded by friends and people you love.