Stars gazed drowsily out from the folds of an indigo night sky. The yellowish glow of the moon painted shadows of the toothy Chicago skyline over the streets. A white expanse coated the city and, for once, the bustling streets were quieted. The ground was vacant of footsteps because the only visitor that would be out tonight traveled in the air. My dad stared out of his bedroom window, his eyelids hanging heavily as he waited, drowsy and impatient, for Christmas morning.
My dad pressed his hand against the cold, wooden frame of the window, popping it open. A crisp, cool wind briskly grazed the tip of his ear and a pleasant shudder rippled through his body. He stuck his tongue out to catch a playful snowflake flitting in front of his nose. It did a gentle pirouette and landed on his tongue, melting like an ice cube in hot cocoa. He stuck his head further out the window, like a dog in a pickup truck, leaning over the sill. The pointy rooftops, surrounding his home, sparkled in the moonlight, edges softened by the snow. Snowflakes tiptoed across the spindled branches of the naked birch outside his window, spiraling gracefully to the ground. My dad longed so much to jump out of the window and join them. His chin rested against the palm of his hand, and, as his thoughts drifted into sugarplums and gingerbread, promises of tomorrow danced in vivid bright colors.
A noise, almost like a tower of blocks crashing down, split through the silence. My dad jerked his head from the window with a start, pulling himself out of a peaceful sleep. He blinked his eyes groggily, gazing from his bookshelf to his bed stand, both painted a hazy black by the shadows. The only sound was the continuous ticking of the clock, both of its bold black hands pointing at the twelve. I knew it wasn’t morning already, he thought as he lay his head back down, disgruntled.
It was exactly 12:31 when the door was gently bumped open. The light from the hallway streaked a yellow line across his dark wall. A brown, furry snout pushed its way through the small crack of the door. My dad watched this scene from half-open eyelids, his brain still trying to decide whether this was real or still part of his dream. As the door creaked, my dad pressed his body against the windowpane, the cold, smooth glass chilling his skin through the thin fabric of his pajamas and waking up his brain. This was not a dream. Fear arose in his heart, the nightmares of his earlier childhood ran through his head like a black-and-white film. The snout was crested with a twitching, black nose, cautiously searching for a hint of what was behind the door. The creature took a delicate step forward, revealing a thin, bony leg covered in brown fur. The door swung open and a tall majestic creature stepped through. The reindeer’s forehead was marked with a white diamond placed in between two dark, brown eyes. They were so innocent and gentle, sparkling in the moonlight.
The fear that had once pulsed along with my dad’s heart was immediately wiped away. The deer stepped closer with its head bent down and its ears pricked. He sucked in his breath. The deer’s coat was the color of cinnamon on a freshly baked roll with spots scattered over its back, white as snow. The deer was in arm’s reach now. Should he dare? He didn’t have time to decide though, because the deer leaned forward and gently nuzzled him in the ribs. Its touch was warm and soft, sending magic unfurling in his heart like a morning flower, its exuberant, orange petals peeling open in the light. Bursts of fireworks sizzled in his head, as my dad lifted his shaking hand and laid it on the deer’s smooth coat. He stroked the deer’s fur, back and forth, back and forth. Then a small chuckle erupted from the hallway. The deer immediately turned and silently galloped out of the room.
The warmth of the reindeer still tickled his skin as my dad watched the door gently click shut. Bowing his head down, he explored his hand with all his senses, it smelled like snow and warm honey, it was warm, sticky and moist. Smiling, he curled up against the windowsill, pressing his hand to his chest. It fit snuggly and felt like magic. His tired eyes flew across the sky one more time and rested on the pale, white orb, the queen of night looking down upon her loyal subjects, the twinkling stars. My dad smiled, his eyes dancing from the trees to the endless heavens above. “Merry Christmas!” he whispered, his words carrying through a crack in his window and up into the indigo, night sky.
Based on a story Lizzy’s dad told her every Christmas.