Ramble: Christmas Memory

Santa claus

I saw Santa. Once . Long ago. I am certain I did.

Not a store-made Santa who sits on the big chair and smells of cigarettes and aqua velva. No indeed not one one of those poorly cloned copies who need pillows for bellies, and cotton for beards.

I saw the real Santa. I swear I did.

I was 5. Or maybe 6. That isn’t really important to this story. All that matters is I was young enough to still see magic, and feel magic. To sense real magic when it happened. And it happened.

Christmas Eve. I was supposed to be asleep, but there was no way I could sleep. My parents and some other adults had gathered for the usual Christmas Eve festivities. Singing carols, eating treats, and drinking drinks that made adults jolly with the spirit of Christmas.

While the adults laughed and sang loudly, I lay in my bed listening for that moment of magic. And then. There. That noise;  a bump on the roof. And a jingle, jangle. And one loud stomp. It was so loud I was sure the entire world had heard it.

Far downstairs the adults were as loud as ever – their old grown-up ears not able to hear the magic. I pressed my face to the frost covered glass, trying to see through the Jack Frost swirls and curls. A flash of red passed by. It had to be him.

Silent as a mouse I moved through the house. Small enough to pass beneath the singing jolly adults without being noticed. I passed by and into the backroom where the Christmas tree waited for Santa’s generosity. I was too late! The tree stood proudly over a mountain of presents, and the stockings sagged from the weight of the goodies inside.

English: A Christmas Tree at Home

I moved quickly to the backdoor, where my boots were drying. I slipped them on and popped out, and right into a perfect belly and a soft red velvet suit.

It was him – the one and only Real Santa.

He raised a finger to his lips to command my silence, and I wide-eyed obeyed. He smiled, and winked. Helped me stand up. Then he reached into a large bag he was carrying and pulled out a toy airplane with flashing red and blue lights. A wonder of his workshop given right to my hands.

Then he turned me toward the door, and pointed for me to go back inside. One does not disobey Santa if one wants another magical Christmas! I bolted inside as if I was pulled by eight tiny reindeer. And I whistled and shouted and called out his name: “Santa is here! Santa is here!”

The adults turned and smiled at my clattering excitement. My parents bemused let me drag them outside so I could show them the proof that Santa was not just real – but in our backyard.

Being adults they were much too slow. By the time coats and boots had been found and put on, Santa was gone. Vanished except for his boot marks leading toward two thin lines – the marks of his sleigh. And numerous small round marks left by the prancing reindeer.

I told my parents what had happened. and showed them the airplane. But I could see they didn’t believe me.

Then from down the road we heard the jingle of bells, and a loud HO! HO! HO!

And then a crack and a  burst of light into the sky, with a deep rolling voice calling, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Later as my mother tucked me into bed, she kissed me on the forehead saying, “You lucky boy. Not just anyone gets to see the Real Santa Claus.”

And that is how I know Santa is more than just a story – because I met him for real over 40 years ago on a cold snowy Christmas Eve.

christmas paint


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