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it’s always quiet on christmas eve. i have the worse insomnia on this night, so i lay in bed and watch the six tv channels we have. every channel is either a choir singing, static, or infomercials. when i turn the tv off i am beset by the insufferable quiet, the soft drone of the heater pushing warmed air throughout the house. i live in the basement of my parents house. i am fourteen, cursing myself for being excited about christmas morning, trying to figure out how to stop my heart beating so that i can sleep and wake up early. my mother allows me to check my stocking when i’ve woken up, as i tend to get up around 5am to slink around the house and check the consistency of the christmas presents under the tree. the carpet is old, green, and shag, a holdover from the 70s. it looks like our living room was carpeted by skinning oscar the grouch monsters. the kitchen has carpet, the bathroom has carpet. only my parents room is bare floor. more holdovers from an era that loved carpeting.

in the basement i lie in the dark for what seems like ages. i try counting sheep but lose count a couple of times and get frustrated. i let my eyes adjust to the darkness. i watch the snow fall from the basement windows, the kind that are at the top of the room, three times as wide as they are tall. sometimes i crack the window open in the summertime and my cat sneaks out, leaping up and bypassing the metal screen. once i woke up and my entire bed was covered in aphids, don’t know how. once i put on headphones and heard a scratching sound, and when i took them off an earwig scurried out. i never wore those headphones again. when i still cannot sleep, i turn the tv back on, thinking that the sudden increase in brightness somehow helps my eyes “ache,” which in turn helps me sleep. sometimes it works.

i’m laying in bed, the soft rain patter above a lovely sound that often lulls me to sleep here. my excitement for christmas has long since abated, replaced by regular paychecks and adulthood duties. no longer do i wait for sleep while under covers–sleep tends to take me unawares these days. i’m grateful for it. but every christmas eve, without fail, no matter how tired i am, i can still feel a twinge of excitement, of the next morning, of the bright white snow that makes me squint when i look outside. it is a yearly reminder of my childhood, a yearly reminder to never forget where i came from, a yearly reminder to enjoy the silence.

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