There’s a moment over the holidays when the world stands still and the magic dust of the season descends on our old farmhouse.
It’s on Christmas Eve when the boys – and I use the term loosely because they range in age from 20-something to 75 – who have been drinking beer and wrapping presents most of the day, emerge from the den; when the kids are bathed and in their new pyjamas and when the mommies, the aunties and the nannies stop fussing and come together in the living room to read The Polar Express.
The scene is set. The fireplace flickers, the lights are dimmed, the stockings are hung and the cookies are out for Santa. The kids snuggle in and the story begins.
As the book is passed around the room, each person reads a page. Over the years, I’ve watched as awkward teenagers, great grandparents, well-oiled uncles, tired mommies and children glowing with excitement, take their turn.
Even though we all know how the story unfolds – on Christmas Eve a child is whisked off to the North Pole and is given a bell by Santa, but alas, not everyone can hear that bell ring – we listen as if we’ve never heard it before. As we near the end of the story, there’s anticipation in the air. Who will be the lucky one to read the passage that ties this unwieldy family together? Suddenly a cheer goes up as the book is handed to the person who will read the last page – the person who will deliver the message we’ve been waiting for:
“…the bell still rings for me as it does for all those who truly believe.”