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Kirby: There's no way to recover from stress of waiting for Santa

Published December 20, 2012 1:01 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

I won't have any problem falling asleep Christmas Eve. I'm old. Shortly after the 10 o'clock news, I'll be making noises like someone vacuuming the inside of a pig.

Unless my wife tries to get me to stop snoring by putting Saran Wrap over my face, I'll more or less stay asleep until the grandkids call around 4 a.m. to report the successful arrival of Santa.

After half a century, I have come full circle in my ability to sleep the night before Christmas. I'll conk off Tuesday night because I want to and because I can. It hasn't always been so easy.

There was a time when I couldn't sleep the night before Christmas because I was too excited. Sending a kid to bed and telling him that Santa won't come until he's asleep ought to be at least a Class A misdemeanor.

The kid will lay there with electricity shooting out of his orifices until he passes out from sheer inventory exhaustion.

My brother and I would lay in our bunk bed going over our respective lists of demands just to make sure we hadn't forgotten something important. If we had, we'd get out of bed and say a prayer to Santa in the hopes he would remember to bring it anyway.

Note: This actually works. I prayed to Santa on Christmas Eve 1963 and he brought me a BB gun even though the old man said I wasn't getting one.

The downside of greed-based sleeplessness is that every bump and thump in the night is Santa landing on the roof. If he sticks his head down the chimney and sees that you're still awake, he moves on.

Eventually it was fear that kept me awake through the long night before Christmas. I wrestled with all the ways I had been bad during the year, tallying up the reasons I wasn't getting spit for Christmas.

By morning I was almost tearfully grateful when I got pajamas and socks. Almost.

In terms of sleeplessness caused by fear, Christmas was only ever surpassed by the fear I felt the night before I got married and the night before I left for the Army.

You never get over the stress of waiting for Santa. Eventually you are Santa and you don't sleep in order to satisfy the expectations of people who can't sleep.

For sheer Christmas Eve aggravation, nothing beats the night I had the flu and stayed awake until 3 a.m. putting together a wagon, a princess castle, a play stove and a #$%@! Big Wheel.

Then there was our first Christmas as grandparents. It was a special Christmas because finally we had both the inclination and the money to make it fabulous. We stayed awake wondering if we should have given our new granddaughter a car.

Note: A car would have been too much, so I bought her the collected works of Led Zeppelin on vinyl. And a deer rifle.

Now that I can sleep during the night before the big event, I rarely get enough sleep. Last year, we told our grandkids not to call us until "at least 7."

When the phone rang in the middle of the night, it took a while to convince our grandson that it was the LITTLE hand of the clock that had to be on the number seven.

I can still be of good cheer on Christmas Day because I always get at least one thing I wanted: a Christmas nap.

Robert Kirby can be reached at rkirby@sltrib.com or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.