Still believing in the magic of Christmas

Published 11:25 am Wednesday, December 12, 2018

“When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer. With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.”

Those words, penned in 1822 by Clement Clarke Moore as part of his poem, “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” (now better known as “Twas the Night Before Christmas”), are steeped in holiday tradition.

Most adults – myself included – can recite each and every word of Moore’s writings, which, by the way, were first published on Dec. 23, 1823 in the New York Sentinel.

However, the evolution of Moore’s work isn’t the basis of this particular column. Rather it’s all about the fascination that children, and even adults, have with old St. Nick.

This past Saturday morning in Ahoskie, I carefully watched the eyes of my grandson, Brody, as Santa and Mrs. Claus – riding in the town’s antique fire truck – drew closer to our location along Main Street.

Brody screamed with delight – “Santa, Santa” – as the bearded man in a red suit passed by. His eyes were filled with wonder….almost like he and St. Nick were engaged in a mental conversation that no one other than those two could hear.

Watching a child such as my grandson flip through the pages of a toy catalog, their eyes feasting upon items they visualize as being under the tree on Christmas morning, brings joy to my heart. I can lovingly remember his mother doing the exact same thing when she was a child.

And to hear those cries of joy when they tear open the wrapping paper and take that first glimpse of a toy that was on their wish list makes it worth the effort to ensure that Santa knew exactly what that particular child desired.

Listening to a child, like Brody, sing or hum along to a Christmas carol is just as heartwarming.

All these warm and wonderful memories of this special time of the year allow adults to think back to their childhoods and the joys of the Christmas season.

My memories are flooded with more than the toys I wished for. Sure, I remember my first bike, first train set, first baseball glove. Moreover, I can see my mom in the kitchen fixing up all sorts of goodies that she placed in silver trays that sat atop an antique dresser, adorned with holly and red berries she (or Pop) had fetched from the woods. That same dresser is in my home today.

My nose is filled with the delightful smells of turkey, ham, cabbage, dressing (covered in homemade gravy), corn and butterbeans (fresh frozen from the family garden during the summer months), and bread. And those pecan pies….wow, my Mom made the best. After I became an adult and returned home to celebrate Christmas with my parents, Mom would always have an extra whole pecan pie for me to carry back to my home.

I can see my father, sitting in his favorite rocking chair after we had consumed that Christmas Eve meal fit for a king. It was a tradition that Pop would read from the Bible about the birth of Jesus before any presents were opened.

Prior to the family gathering at mom and pop’s home on Christmas Eve, we would traditionally make the trek to Roanoke Rapids to celebrate the season with our Bryant relatives. Back then, downtown/uptown Roanoke Rapids – with all its colorful lights – appeared to be a huge city.

And on the drive back to Northampton County, Pop would always spot a red light blinking in the sky. Myself, my brother (Tommy) and my now late sister (Cindy) would battle for position in the back seat in an effort to gain a better visual on that light. Pop would always tell us we were seeing Rudolph’s famed red nose and we needed to hurry home and get in bed because Santa was on his way.

Despite turning age 65 this year, I still feel the wonderment of the holidays….much like my five-year-old grandson. Apparently, there is no age limit on believing in the magic of Christmas.


Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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