The book held hundreds of poems, which she would read with passion, humor, skill, enacting each role with a different voice, playing each character as though she had become them. Once in a while on cold and rainy days, my mama would draw me on her lap and say, "Let's read!"
I remember even now, that I always cherished the times my mother would hold me close as we sqished in an overstuffed chair together and the deep tones of her reading voice would draw me into imaginary worlds. Sitting that close to the one I loved the best, feeling loved within the sweet smell of her lotion and soft skin, m longings for love were fulfilled to overflowing happiness to steal away this time from her busy days. A very clear memory was the first time she read me this Christmas poem. The story captured my attention and then as it unfolded, my little girl heart swelled with joy. Even now, at 61, the memory of it brings me soul comfort.
I will be reading it to my children again this year because it has become a precious story and a tradition that has gone on long after my mama quit reading out load to us. On this Friday, make a special time with hot chocolate or spiced tea and read it out-loud and begin a new tradition! Enjoy!
As for me, I will be bustling about getting the last touches ready for my own crew to begin coming home, starting Saturday. Oh the butterflies are flying and I am getting oh so excited.
Annie And Willie's Prayer
'Twas the eve before Christmas. "Good night," had been said, And Annie and Willie had crept into bed; There were tears on their pillows, and tears in their eyes, And each little bosom was heaving with sighs, For tonight their stern father's command had been given That they should retire precisely at seven Instead of at eight-for they troubled him more With questions unheard of than ever before: He had told them he thought this delusion a sin, No such creature as "Santa Claus" ever had been. And he hoped, after this, he should never more hear How he scrambled down chimneys with presents each year. And this was the reason that two little heads So restlessly tossed on their soft, downy beds. Eight, nine, and the clock on the steeple tolled ten, Not a word bad been spoken by either till then, When Willie's sad face from the blanket did peep, And whispered, 'Dear Annie, is 'ou fast as'eep?" "Why no, brother Willie," a sweet voice replies, "I've long tried in vain, but I can't shut my eyes, For somehow it makes me so sorry because Dear papa has said there is no 'Santa Claus.' Now we know there is, and it can't be denied, For he came every year before mamma died; But, then, I've been thinking that she used to pray, And God would hear everything mamma would say, And maybe she asked him to send Santa Claus here With that sackful of presents he brought every year." "Well, why tan't we p'ay dest as mamma did den, And ask Dod to send him with p'esents aden?" "I've been thinking so too," and without a word more Four little bare feet bounded out on the floor, And four little knees the soft carpet pressed, And two tiny hands were clasped close to each breast. "Now, Willie, you know we must firmly believe That the presents we ask for we're sure to receive; You must wait very still till I say the 'Amen,' And by that you will know that your turn has come then." "Dear Jesus, look down on my brother and me, And grant us the favor we are asking of thee. I want a wax dolly, a teaset, and ring, And an ebony workbox that shuts with a spring. Bless papa, dear Jesus, and cause him to see That Santa Claus loves us as much as does he; Don't let him get fretful and angry again At dear brother Willie and Annie. Amen." 'Please, Desus, 'et Santa Taus turn down tonight, And b'ing us some p'esents before it is light, I want he should div' me a nice 'ittie s'ed, With bright sbinin' 'unners, and all painted red; A box full of tandy, a book, and a toy, Amen, and then, Desus, I'll be a dood boy."
Their prayers being ended, they raised up their heads, With hearts light and cheerful, again sought their beds. Tley were lost soon in slumber, both peaceful and deep, And with fairies in dreamland were roaming in sleep.
Eight, nine, and the little French clock had struck ten, Ere the father had thought of his children again: He seems now to hear Annie's half-suppressed sighs, And to see the big tears stand in Willie's blue eyes. 'I was harsh with my darlings," he mentally said, 'And should not have sent them so early to bed; But then I was troubled; my feelings found vent, For bank stock today has gone down ten per cent!
But of course they've forgotten their troubles ere this, And that I denied them the thrice-asked-for kiss: But, just to make sure, I'll go up to their door, For I never spoke harsh to my darlings before." So saying, he softly ascended the stairs, And arrived at the door to hear both of their prayers; His Annie's "Bless papa" drew forth the big tears, And Willie's grave promise fell sweet on his ears. 'Strange-strange-I'd forgotten," said he with a sigh, 'How I longed when a child to have Christmas draw nigh." "I'll atone for my harshness," he inwardly said, "By answering their prayers ere I sleep in my bed." Ilen he turned to the stairs and softly went down, Threw off velvet slippers and silk dressing gown, Donned hat, coat, and boots, and was out in the street, A millionaire facing the cold, driving in the sleet Nor stopped he until he had bought everything From the box full of candy to the tiny gold ring; Indeed, he kept adding so much to his store, That the various presents outnumbered a score.
Then homeward he turned. When his holiday load, With Aunt Mary's help, in the nursery was stowed. Miss Dolly was seated beneath a pine tree, By the side of a table spread out for her tea; A workbox well fitted in the center was laid, And on it the ring for which Annie had prayed, A soldier in uniform stood by a sled "With bright shining runners, and all painted red.' There were balls, dogs, and horses, books pleasing to see, And birds of all colors were perched in the tree! While Santa Claus, laughing, stood up in the top, As if getting ready more presents to drop. And as the fond father the picture surveyed, He thought for his trouble he had amply been paid, And he said to himself, as he brushed off a tear, 'I'm happier tonight than I've been for a year; I've enjoyed more pure pleasure than ever before; What care I if bank stock falls ten per cent more! Hereafter I'll make it a rule, I believe, To have Santa Claus visit us each Christmas Eve.' So thinking, he gently extinguished the light, And, tripping down stairs, retired for the night.
As soon as the beams of the bright morning sun Put the darkness to flight, and the stars one by one, Four little blue eyes out of sleep opened wide, And at the same moment the presents espied; Then out of their beds they sprang with a bound, And the very gifts prayed for were all of them found. They laughed and they cried, in their innocent glee, And shouted for papa to come quick and see What presents old Santa Claus brought in the night (just the things that they wanted,) and left before light: 'And now," added Annie, in a voice soft and low, 'You'll believe there's a 'Santa Claus', papa, I know"- While dear little Willie climbed up on his knee, Determined no secret between them should be, And told in soft whispers how Annie had said That their dear, blessed mamma, so long ago dead, Used to kneel down by the side of her chair, And that God up in heaven had answered her prayer. 'Den we dot up and prayed dust well as we tould, And Dod answered our prayers: now wasn't He dood?" 'I should say that He was, if He sent you all these, And knew just what presents my children would please. (Well, well, let him think so, the dear little elf, 'Twould be cruel to tell him I did it myself.")
Blind father! who caused your stem heart to relent, And the hasty words spoken so soon to repent? 'Twas the Being who bade you steal softly upstairs, And made you His agent to answer their prayers.
- Sophia P. Snow
I Hope you will love my new book, coming out January 7!
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