Like most children, I loved everything about the Christmas holiday growing up. The music being played everywhere we’d go set the atmosphere of pleasantness, presents, and family warmth for the entire month of December. I loved seeing all the decorations around the neighborhood and joy of the snowfall. Even the anticipation leading up to the day itself was and always will be a fond memory of my youth. I loved decorating the tree and seeing all the neatly wrapped gifts slowly being built up below it. I would patiently wait every evening before being allowed to open my advent calendar while wearing my Christmas-themed pajamas. I would fall asleep to the flashing pattern of lights off my bedroom wall through my half opened door down the hall. One of my dreams was visiting Santa’s workshop and seeing all the toys being made for the good boys and girls around the world.
Every Christmas Eve, I’d leave cookies and milk out for Santa to snack on during his long journey. And every morning I would wake up see that he had nibbled on a cookie and drank a bit of the milk. I know now, as an adult, that it was just my Mom or Dad taking the bite and sip to humor me, but it was a nice thing to do for someone that I admired so much. I once even dreamed that Santa had visited my house and ended up staying too long because he loved our tree so much. These are all fond memories I have of the holiday season, but they will always be overshadowed by that one strange night.
At first, I thought I was just having another vivid dream about the jolly old man delivering me my most desired gift, but that was not the case. I awoke to the sound of bells being disturbed in the living room sometime in the middle of the night. I never slept much the night before Christmas, so I was sure that I was no longer sleeping when I heard them. I was old enough to know that it was probably just one of my parents putting out the last few presents, but I loved Christmas so much that I just had to have a look and see if perhaps it was really Santa making so much noise.
I slide out of bed and put on my slippers before silently tiptoeing out of my door and down the hallway towards the flickering lights of the tree and the sound of the bells. I stopped at the edge of the hall so that I could just peer out around the corner and catch a glimpse of whoever was tossing around the gifts and shaking the tree. And that is when I saw…him. It wasn’t Santa or at least the image of Santa that I had always been taught.
What I saw instead was the faint, almost transparent, image of a man thrashing about at the tree. I couldn’t make out much detail other than that he seemed very angry and was trying very hard to knock the tree over. He kept swinging his arms at the tree, but it was as if they got partially adsorbed into it with every swipe and it caused the tree to move only slightly. He was also aggressively kicking at the wrapped presents under the tree, but was only able to toss them on their side.
Whoever or whatever he was, he was making enough of a racket that my parents woke up down the hall. I did not want them to think that it was me who was causing such a disturbance, so I quickly ran back into my room and hopped back into bed. I listened as my parents went into the living room to investigate, but it did not sound like they had witnessed the same thing I just had. I heard one of them open my door just a bit more and have a look in, but I was doing my very best to pretend that I was still asleep.
I eventually did fall asleep and woke up a few hours later, almost completely forgetting about what I had seen the night before. I went into the living room and saw the usual sights of fresh gifts and full stockings awaiting me. My parents woke up not long after, along with my older Sister, and we began to open the presents. No-one mentioned anything about the sounds from the night before and I did not tell anyone about the angry, hazy man I saw trying to knock over the tree. One strange thing, however, is that Santa seemed to not want to nibble on his cookies or drink any of the milk I had left out for him. Maybe my parents forgot? Maybe Santa didn’t feel comfortable visiting my house that year?