“I’m coming!” I would lie to my mother, laying in bed, or loitering over a page like a fly in treacle.
“So’s Christmas!” she would yell back, her point being that I was as slow and full of secrets as an Advent calendar, doling out its little pieces of time and chocolate with precision and restraint. If you skipped a window, finding it too late, it would be as though time turned backward, counting down instead of ratcheting up the days until the tension was perilous.
“Christmas is coming” meant that somebody was running out of patience, out of breath like a woman in labour; like a baby in the birth canal, out of options to retreat; as though, if one didn’t pay attention to the tone of a mother’s exasperation, pregnant and impending, one day it would be too late.
All the more reason, perhaps, to lie a moment longer, pausing over a paragraph, cocking an ear to listen for the exact moment when Christmas will come, all heaven break loose with the implosion of glory, the sudden and dangerous contraction of love.