It is 12:01 a.m., and little Timmy is awake, hearing the ticks from the clock on the wall and sensing the midnight shadows creep across his bedroom wall.
The youngster is excited about Christmas Day. He is unaware of the time, though. His eyes are closed and he is fighting sleep.
He recollects the stories of pepper in the eyes, switches in the sash, and empty boxes under the tree, for children who are awake when Santa makes his rounds, and he desperately tries to find sleep.
He has this recurring image of that gift he wrote Santa about in November.
He sees himself tearing through the red ribbon and the shinny gift wrapping and uncovering what made a year of good - or decent - behavior worth the while.
He had nagged his mother about the gift for the past three months, making innuendoes about Christmas each chance he got.
Now, he is stuck lying there in his bed - sweat rolling down from his forehead, and his cheeks red from the vice grip his top and bottom eye lashes have on that small slit of daylight entering his eye.
He has seen it in print advertisements, on television commercials, and in the huge store display downtown.
He remembers the couple hotly arguing over which greeting cards to send their in-laws.
He recalls the shoving match between the two strangers in line at the home improvements store.
He can still hear the two little boys 'one-upping' themselves about what the other will get for Christmas, and the teenage girl trying to decide whether one gift would be too forward to give to her boyfriend.
And he heard a man counting to himself, adding up his Christmas budget.
The voices, all of them, rise up in crowded shopping centers and malls like white noise flowing from the cash being spent.
But Timmy remembers when he saw his gift during one of those holiday-rush weekends.
It was not colorful, not big, nor round. And it stood little chance of ever being recalled.
His gift is holiday spirit, because the holidays aren't that serious.
I think we, sometimes, take the holidays far too seriously. There is a lesson in here somewhere.
Johnny Jackson is the education reporter for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at email@example.com or at (770) 957-9161.