Tossing and turning, you lying top bunk, me down below
in our maple bunk beds in that small room of Robin’s egg blue
with the closet that I used to imagine dark
and crowded with monsters
after we’d waited, all night,
surely long enough,
time to get up.
We’d fling back the covers,
our first slip of toes on cold linoleum
and creep past mum and dad’s room
knowing to avoid the stairs that creaked.
As stealthy as robbers at midnight,
down to the first landing, then the next
and finally, that bottom step, and freedom.
Our excitement carried us like apparitions in the dawn towards the large living room
only awe slowing our tracks, and
all those shiny boxes, rearranged overnight
under the tree seemed to have grown,
like the snowbanks outside.
Santa was real after all.
He’d been true to his word.
Our neighbour, Mr. Jack, had been wrong,
Christmas hadn’t been cancelled like he’d teased us it had been leading up to the big day.
We’d tip toe to the adjoining dining room
a beautiful black iron fireplace, and brown
beams on the ceilings, and
turn to the family of felted stockings hanging from the white wooden mantle in front of that emerald green tiled hearth.
Your stocking red, mine green,
or was it the other way around?
We’d gingerly carry our treasures to that plush green velvet window seat
our skinny arms plunged in up to our crooked elbows,
spidery fingers digging into the tippy toe of the foot,
making sure we weren’t missing the smallest trinkets.
Always a mandarin, a candy cane, a chocolate of some sort
if my memory serves me correctly, and it may not.
A few other small things as well,
maybe a plastic pink mirror, a yo-yo, a small puzzle, a hot wheels for you.
I recall few words,
whispery breath between
you and me, twin brother of mine,
until the light, a stronger grey, streamed in to announce the respectable side of morning.
Then mom and dad awake, down the stairs, in bathrobes, excited to relive our finds.
The kitchen table in the next room set from the night before.
Turkey talk, time and temperature and when to shove in the oven, and coffee, orange juice for us.
Then “the twins” – Joy and June, and finally Heather, always the last one down,
would join in for breakfast and
what I remember, most of all,
is that we’d be happier than we usually got around that table,
happier than we knew we were then.
The tone of coffee, the taste of eggs and bacon comfort
no walking on eggshells or wondering what might come next
like so many other times,
but not this day,
a shift in energy,
the auspiciousness of togetherness.
on that 25th day
of the 12th month
in the 1960s
on the corner of Hamilton and 8th streets
in New Westminster, B.C.