Growing up, Christmas was not a religious observance. But it was a religious experience, if you know what I mean. And why was Eve always a bigger deal for me than Day? Well, I wasn’t around a tree opening presents. But I did get a kick out of walking around town in the snow on Christmas Eve, checking into the steamy, linoleum-floor inside of the bakery on Washington Road, stopping at Beverly Pharmacy and waving to the nice lady behind the candy counter, watching people bustling about in the street. There would be sledding if we were lucky, down the huge long hill on Shadowlawn — a solid 45-degree angle for 200-plus yards, and then you would have to turn into a snow bank to avoid sliding right into the 36B bus on North Meadowcroft.
But the best part of the day was the night. Midnight. I would contrive to stay up, and I would be sure to look at the sky. If we were lucky, it was a midnight clear, and icy cold, and starry. If you bought that world-at-peace hypothesis — and I was a willing customer — then here was the sky the whole world was watching, with its jewels, its treasures, its lights on the face of God…in that deep magnificent celestial silence. — Adam Barr