Her voice, at this hour, comes muffled from behind a bedroom door, filling an otherwise silent hall with words from storybooks.

Sometimes she is accompanied by orchestral music playing softly at her bedside. As the seasons have turned decidedly cooler, so too has her music evolved.

By the light of a Christmas tree standing no more than a foot tall in the window seat, she reads to Tchaikovsky s Nutcracker Suite, not yet familiar with the story or the baroque ballet for which it provides the score.

So much is unknown to her. She has not yet even begun to dream, a task that her parents have assumed on her behalf. Perhaps, one day she will flutter tippy-toed across the stage of the music hall in soft ballet shoes and illuminated in the glow of stage lights.

Or maybe she will choose a much lonelier affair, heaven forbid, and find her way as her father has, marking countless hours within her own imagination, searching for words appropriate for the telling of stories.

Before her path is chosen, though, much living must come all the experiences that will inadvertently determine her craft. And it may have already begun in the dead of night, surrounded by darkened lamps and hallways and a bedroom filled with her younger brother s sleepy breathing.

Her first memories will be of this warm home and what it has offered her or perhaps failed to provide in the way of guidance and love. Already it has become the place where her parents shaped the early years of their marriage and set the foundation for the home in which their children will grow.

A walk here at this late hour, for a stranger, would lack the meaning that it holds for its proprietors.

What to some may be a simple flight of stairs overlooking a living room were the only obstacles in her way on her first Christmas when, not yet possessing the capability for words, she abruptly left the present unwrapping behind for the sanctity of her bedroom and a mid-morning nap.

Then there is her bedroom and her brother s, both hand-painted and decorated with butterflies and farm animals. Every detail has been rendered with the delicate touch of her loving mother.

There is the kitchen where her brother, at seven months of age decided to climb the refrigerator and then fleetingly stand on his own.

A step away there is a dining table where, on occasion and after the children are tucked away, a young man who has found himself suddenly aged sips a beer and slowly deconstructs his performance thus far as a father. Always his thoughts return to the life he and his wife have provided.

In this world, there are homes far more extravagant and sizeable, yet, for parents, through fortune or fate or talent or a lacking in any one of these areas, only the love for our children is within the realm of our possible control.

That voice piercing the darkness tells about princes and princesses and flying reindeer. Beneath her words, though, there is another story being told about the love she shares, a third Christmas that will greet her brother unexpectedly and an imagination far too broad for bedroom walls.


BIO: Kevin Kuzma is a husband, father and freelance journalist. He and his wife Betsy have two children, Annie and Charlie, and reside in Kansas City, Mo.