Use riturals and traditions to build
a history of stories to retell for
years to come.

Tell your children the stories.
They will stay vivid and alive
with the telling.
(# 3901)

(# 3902)

Sleeping By the Fire

393 words


The Spirit of Christmas Lives In the Stories
by Dianne Roth


One Christmas Eve we began sleeping together on the living room floor. It came about because one of us thought it would be a good idea to keep the fire in the fireplace going all through Christmas Eve and throughout Christmas day.

As with all good ideas, it gained a life of its own. My brother and I volunteered to get up during the night and feed the fire. That was vetoed because it was thought we would probably sleep through our shifts. Then, we offered to sleep on the floor in front of the fire.

Here, I am not exactly sure what my parents were thinking. It might have been that they did not want us to left unsupervised with the fire. My dad was dreadfully afraid of a house fire and probably could not have slept knowing we were up messing with the fire. Or, it might simply have sounded like fun.

In either case, from that Christmas on, for many years, my parents would dismantle their bed, carrying their mattress to the living room floor. Furniture would have to be rearranged, bedding and pillows hauled, and sleeping bags brought up from the basement. My brother and I would sleep on each side of them.

We would each quietly get up during the night to feed the fire. I remember hearing one or another up and about during the night. The light of the embers was enough to place a log on the grate and secretly fill stockings hung from the mantel.

In the morning, with the fire still burning, we would open presents and check out what “Santa” had left in our stockings. All through the day, amid preparations for our Christmas dinner and visits with friends and family, logs would be added to the fire.

At the end of Christmas Day, we would gather around the embers to let the holiday spirit slowly slip up the chimney with the last wisps of smoke. It was a simple thing, sleeping together, filling the stockings, and keeping the fire burning, but we loved it.

Great Christmas memories tend to have little to do with spending money or receiving presents. The shared events and rituals that are passed along as stories carry the true meaning of family holidays. Find a time this and every holiday to share the family stories with your children.


Dianne Roth is a teacher, mother, grandmother, and freelance writer. She lives in Oregon.


Last updated on October 3, 2012