Amazing Kids! Magazine

Patience, Not Presents

By Alexandra Purdy, grade 8, Ohio


Tomorrow’s Christmas! I think to myself. The day that I had been waiting for had finally arrived. For months I had gazed longingly at the twinkling Christmas lights and colorful window displays, counting down the days until my favorite holiday.

“It’s time for you to go to bed,” my mom says to us with a smile. “Santa won’t come until you’re asleep.” It was already getting late, far later than I would ever be allowed to stay up on a usual school night. But this was definitely not a regular school night. My sister, Clare, and I race to our bathroom, quickly brushing our teeth and hugging our parents good night.

“I can’t wait,” Clare says to me as she steps into her room. “I think that this will be the best Christmas ever.” We hug goodnight, and I slide under my covers and into my warm, soft blankets.

It usually only takes me a few minutes to fall asleep, but tonight, I find myself tossing and turning, urging time to pass so that the night will be over and Christmas day will arrive. All I can think about is the fun things that we are going to do tomorrow: opening presents, making hot chocolate, eating fondue. I keep checking the time, only to see that only a few minutes pass, even though it feels like an eternity.

Eventually, a horrifying thought dawns on me. What if Santa can’t come because I’m not asleep? I would ruin this holiday for everyone: my mom, my dad, and my sister! I can’t do that to them!

I force myself to shut my eyes. I guess I must fall asleep for at least a few hours because the next thing I remember is opening my eyes and, after a few seconds, remembering that it is Christmas. Scrambling out of bed, I make it into the hallway in less than a second.

It is definitely still dark out, so I can only make out the silhouette of our tree from where I am standing. But even with the lack of light, I can tell that Santa has arrived! I run through the hallway and down the stairs, my bare feet pounding on the carpet.

“It’s Christmas!” I whisper to myself. Maybe it wasn’t as much of a whisper as I meant it to be.

I stumble through my living room, tripping over things in the dark and trying to find the nearest light switch. I find one, and as I turn it on, I practically explode with excitement.

What I see next is any eight-year-old’s dream. Minuscule lights illuminate the tree. Presents of all different shapes and sizes, wrapped in paper of all colors and patterns. Stockings overflowing with little toys and candies. Everywhere I turn in the room, there are more boxes and bags, and all I want to do is to open each and every one of them.

I twirl around the living room in my red- and white-striped nightgown, so proud of myself that I had been so good this year that Santa had decided to bring me all of these gifts.

I guess I must not be as quiet as I thought I was because soon enough, my sister opens her door and comes downstairs. She is just as happy as I am that our favorite holiday is finally here, and we cannot contain our excitement.

We know that our mom and dad like to sleep in late on Christmas Day, so we don’t usually end up opening our gifts until at least nine in the morning.

It is at this point that I finally have the sense to look at the time.

“Four o’clock…” Clare sighs. “We shouldn’t be awake this early. We should wait.”

“But it’s Christmas!” I plead. “We’ve been waiting all year!”

“I guess that opening a few presents won’t make a difference.”

Immediately, I spring to my feet and scamper over to my stocking.  I dump the contents out, each item making a satisfying thump on the ground. My sister does the same, and soon we are tearing through paper as fast as we can.

Suddenly, we hear footsteps above us, causing us to freeze. A partially unwrapped chocolate bar falls out of my hand, hitting the floor. It makes a sound, amplified by our silence.

Slowly, my mom walks down the stairs, still in her pajamas. She wipes the sleep from her eyes and just stares at us for a minute. Even I can tell that she is not happy with us. I look at the room behind us, my eyes widening at the sight of the mess that we have made. Wrapping paper litters the ground. The bright colors of the decorations that had seemed so cheerful moments before seem out of place in the tense atmosphere. Finally, she speaks.

“Girls,” she says, disappointment in her eyes. “Do you have any idea what time it is?”

“It’s Christmas!” I complain, trying to defend myself. But deep inside I know that I should be asleep. I wish that I were still asleep. I wish that all of this never happened and I would wake up hours later. Clare remains silent, her usually loquacious self too scared to react as my mom speaks again.

“It’s too early for this. Go back to bed, and we will talk about this in the morning.”

“Okay,” I squeak. I sprint upstairs as fast as I can and jump back in bed. I force myself to shut my eyes until morning.

I know that it is light out by now, but I don’t have the confidence to get out of bed until I am sure that everyone else is awake. I make my way downstairs, keeping my head down, ashamed at what I had done so much earlier this morning.

“Merry Christmas!” I hear my dad call from the kitchen, catching me off guard. Why is he so happy? Shouldn’t he be mad at me? He comes into view, wearing a red and white Santa hat, smiling. “How did you sleep?”

“Fine,” I say, perplexed. I’m not fine; I feel horrible about what I have done. How could they ever forgive me? I ruined Christmas for everyone!

“I heard about your early wake-up this morning.” He still smiles, waiting for me to respond. When I don’t, he continues. “It’s okay to be excited for things. I’m very glad that you were eager for today, but next time, you need to be patient. Always rushing to do things first and fast is not always the best idea.”

I think about this morning, about how I woke up early, too early, and rushed to open my presents. I think about what I could have done differently and what I can change in the future.

As I take in this advice, the radio turns on, holiday music filling my house. I feel my spirits lift once again, the anticipation of this morning restored. My eight-year-old mind immediately returns to the thought of the presents waiting for me under the tree and the activities that we are going to do today. But, though I don’t know it at the time, no Christmas present could ever be as valuable as the lesson I learned that morning.