Kids’ smiles at Christmas worth it all

TWAS THE night before Christmas and all through the land not a creature was stirring except a tired daddy with his toolkit in hand.

His daughter was nestled all snug in her bed while visions of build plans raced through his head.

With screwdriver and hammer and parts scattered round, he sat down to finish Santa’s work with a bound.

The directions in Spanish, the parts from Japan, he wondered if it was Part A or B he held in his hand.

With the truck now finished it’s time for the table. He promised he’d make it through without swearing if able.

He spoke not a word after finishing his work and took a double of egg nog before turning toward the bedroom with a jerk.

Down the hall he quietly crept, hoping not to wake the soon-to-be wide eyed toddler as she slept.

He eased into bed and his head it did crash. He was out like a light, asleep in a flash.

Not 15 minutes later, what did he hear, but a bounding 3-year-old, brimming with Christmas cheer.

Bounding loudly on the bed this youngster did fly and she gave him a jolt, her knee crashing into his thigh.

It’s time to get up daddy, Santa had came. And she skipped down the hallway, loudly calling his name.

In a half-awake stupor he shuffled his feet, grabbed the paper from the mailbox, offered her cat a treat.

Sitting down in his chair with music a-playing, he watched her amusement, his eyes never straying.

He marveled at her precision as gifts were unwrapped and he knew it’d be a long time before he’d benefit from a nap.

The toys a success, the candy a hit, there was paper scattered round, nary a place to sit.

With daughter off playing, a new task began. He cleaned and he straightened up the best that he can.

Time to start breakfast and get everyone dressed. Morning mass was calling, now where’s that Sunday best.

And … that’s where I’ll end this sad attempt at remaking a timeless Christmas classic. A poet I am not.

If you are able to swim to daylight from the sea of wrapping paper on Christmas morning, allow me to be one of many to wish you all a Merry Christmas this weekend.

And for you fathers, and even some mothers, who were out there operating on little sleep, having spent half the night putting together some of your children’s larger toys as they slept quietly, I feel your pain.

I’ve stated before I operate on very little sleep. But is there an internal clock on childrens’ heads that goes off Christmas morning the minute the parents crawl into bed?

Honestly, I believe it’s my penance. On more than one occasion as a youth, I awoke my parents around 4 a.m. to begin the Christmas celebration. What child wouldn’t.

Who can sleep knowing that in a few hours, the tree will be encircled with toys and gifts and candy and … you get the picture.

You know who I blame? Santa Claus. That’s right, St. Nick himself.

Somewhere along the line the jolly old elf decided that he’d be more than happy to bring the big gifts in his sleigh and haul them down the chimney.

But he stopped short of putting them together. Nope. That’s the parents job. But is it too much to ask to make sure all the necessary parts are included.

There’s nothing like a 3 a.m. run to the garage to find a few extra screws, digging in ye olde coffee can and pricking your finger at least 10 times until finding the right one.

The Thanksgiving tryptophan effect has nothing on the walking dead on Christmas morning, trying to remain jolly and awake, wishing for nothing more than just one hour of sleep.

But then you see the smiles on your kids’ faces and it’s all worth it. Of course, once the post-holiday bill comes in, a new round of swear prevention begins, but that’s another tale for another day.

I hope you all had a wondrous Christmas. Give thanks for family, friends, good food and good times shared. And hopefully, by night’s end, the promise of a FULL night’s rest.

Hughes may be reached at