I've never been very good at sleep. I've spent years of my life trying to get to sleep, and never was this condition more apparent than on Christmas Eve. When my older brother and I shared a room, I didn't notice as much, since our per-adolescent chatter kept us both occupied until we drifted off: "This is Captain Stinkypants signing off."
"This is Sergeant Booger signing off."
"This is Admiral Dorkybrain signing off."
And so it went. From the upper bunk to the lower, this level of hilarity was sustained until we were both fast asleep, or our father appeared in our doorway, ominously clearing his throat.
Later, we invited our youngest brother into the mix, and on Christmas Eve, we would crowd into that one bedroom and listen to the updates on Santa from the local radio station. Not that we needed anything to pique our anticipation, since the fever had been building for weeks. We knew that even if we did manage to close our eyes and get some rest, it was a certainty that we would wake before dawn. Or Don, my father. It was understood that we were under pain of torture, such as getting nothing but coal in our stockings, if we woke our parents before the sun rose.
And so we waited. We waited in those early morning hours, and I waited in my bed after my brothers had managed to nod off. I remember looking up from my bed, where if I positioned myself just right, I could see behind the curtain and out into the night sky. I could watch the multicolored lights hanging on the eaves, and the stars in the cold blackness above them. Sometimes I would kid myself into believing that I could see Rudolph's red nose making its supersonic trip across the globe, then closing my eyes and straining my ears to listen for the click, click, click of those tiny hooves. I wondered if I held still enough if it would count for sleep went the big guy in the red suit showed up. Waking my father was one thing, causing my brothers to miss out on their Christmas because I couldn't do them the solid of simply going to sleep? Unforgivable.
The good news is that I always managed, somehow, to find my way to slumberland, and when I woke up that big day had come at last.
I always slept better the next night.