As I understand it, Paul McCartney awoke one morning having dreamt the entire melody to “Yesterday.” This is as close I ever came to that, literarily speaking. I was twenty, and I felt as if I had to simultaneously relearn everything, while I also forgot nothing. I believed it was now time to learn to see the world exactly as it was, not as I wished it to be, and that under no circumstances should I ever write or utter a word that might be construed as sentimental.
One night I dreamt I was in a snowy, barren place. It was night, and I came to a friendly stone building through whose windows I could see the pulse of firelight. I let myself in. There were people busy behind me but they didn’t mind me warming myself by the hearth.
It was a fantastic fire, and as I stared into it, I heard a poem:
There is a hearth. And in the hearth there is a fire. And in the fire there are coals The coals burning in the fire in the hearth Burning and burning as your soul burns— Burning and burning forever beneath this Christmas night.
Christmas? I thought. Already? And so I turned and now I saw who was working. The elves were toiling at their workbenches, hundreds of elves, all building little wooden toys by firelight. “I’ve found it!” I thought. “I’m here. It’s the source.”
I felt then exactly as I would secretly feel when as a boy I read the words, “Peace on earth, good will to men.” And as I thought this, the man himself appeared, all rosy cheeked and white bearded and red coated. He walked between the workbenches, and as he passed the elves, he waved his hand like a magician and silver dust rained down on each toy.
I could not speak to him, but I had to know what he was doing. This had never been explained, and so I turned to an elf that was working happily beside me. “What’s he doing?” I asked. “What’s that silver dust?”
“Don’t you know?” said the elf. “That’s Christmas Cheer.”
And then I woke up.
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