Editions of The Night Before Christmas, Clockwise from Top: Illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa (and my favorite contemporary version); illustrated by Arthur Rackham. Weathervane Publishing, 1976, Illustrated by Leonard Weisgard, Grosset & Dunlap, 1949; illustrated by Corinn Malvern, Golden Press, 1949; illustrated by Zilla Lesko, Whitman Publishing 1943; illustrated by Catherine Barnes, Whitman Publishing, 1960.
p.s. for even more nights before christmas, go here!
Christmas Eve was always my favorite part of the Christmas holiday. As a little girl, I loved to imagine how the tree would look Christmas morning, ringed with packages covered in patterns of reindeer, bells, snowflakes, or even simple stripes. My mother was a big believer in old-fashioned Christmas, so no presents appeared until St. Nick had done his work on Christmas Eve.
Later on, swarmed with desperate customers buying books or Snoopys (depending on the store I worked at), I felt happy and excited to assist in saving Christmas from the disaster of forgotten or insufficient gifts. Especially when I worked at the bookstore, I was always confident that together, we would find the cure, an unexpected gift that would live on as Christmas Treasure.
I never knew there was such a thing as fearing Christmas until I got older still, and grew close to someone who felt tested, every single year, by the spectre of choosing the wrong gift. To avoid Christmas failure, my friend delayed and delayed until of course, nothing right could be found. His Christmas Eve was Inadequacy Anticipated, a painful trial indeed. Eventually my excitement tempered somewhat, too, seeing that it would never really be fun for us to fill packages with our secret knowledge of what the other wanted, and set them around a Christmas tree.
But the Hope of Christmas Eve has never really left me. I don’t know why I believe in its magic anymore, but I do. The irrational expectation that something real can happen, beyond what I do myself, lingers like a toothache. I would be happier, I know, if I could have it pulled from my head – but it is my own tooth, and I love it so. I can’t quite bear to say I am better off without it, regardless of how it hurts.