I remember sitting in my third-grade classroom one day right before Christmas break. The kids had surrounded my friend Sheila and were making fun of her for believing in Santa. They were so mean that they reminded me of the reindeer who made fun of Rudolph in the Christmas special I'd watched the night before. For the rest of the day, I wondered if it could possibly be true. I went straight home from school and I asked my mom if there was a Santa Claus. She assured me that he was real. She even told me that Santa did not leave presents for children who did not believe in him. There was no way I was not going to believe!
Christmas Eve came and we made our traditional visit to my Granny's house in Maysburg. I looked forward to seeing the Christ in the manger display on her front porch. (My mother has it now.) Granny would cover her front door with blue wrapping paper "to symbolize the night sky," she told me. On the door was a lighted Star of Bethlehem. We celebrated with a wonderful Christmas Eve feast. Our cousins were there and we played all evening long. When dinner was over, we sat around the tree with a rotating colored light shining on it. We opened our pajamas that Granny bought for us every year, and then it was time to leave. Granny, Mary Ann and Bud stood on the porch and waved until we drove out of sight.
All the way home, I looked in the clear, night sky for the Christmas Star. I looked for it every year, but it had always been foggy or snowy and I couldn't see it. When we pulled into the alley going to our house, I asked my dad why I couldn't find it. He told me that it only came out the year Jesus was born. He explained that it was not supposed to come out every year. So both my mom and dad answered two of Christmas' great questions for me.
We put on our new pajamas while Mom made warm cocoa. Before going to bed, we wrote a letter to Santa and put out a platter of cookies for him. When we kissed our parents goodnight, they promised to stay awake so Santa would not miss our house.
I woke up at 2 o'clock Christmas morning, and raced to the living room to see a room glowing with Christmas glory. The tree was glittering and the stockings were full. The room was so packed with toys that there was barely a path to the tree. There were bicycles for all three of us, games and toys, a racetrack and presents piled everywhere. There was even an organ and a pinball machine.
On the table in front of me there was an unfinished letter from Santa Claus. I thought I must have scared him away because there was a still warm cup of cocoa and one the cookies had a bite taken out of it. Then I saw it. A display case holding 52 Dawn dolls, which were like miniature Barbies. Each was dressed in her own high-fashion outfit, including one doll in a beautiful bridal gown. I picked up the entire case, and went through the house shouting, "He came! He came! Santa Claus is real! He came!" That case of dolls was bigger than I was but I was out of my mind with joy.
I woke up my entire family with my shouting. Billy and Rhonda were just as ecstatic as I was when they saw that roomful of presents. Our parents watched as we cheered and squealed with joy. Wrapping paper flew at the same time we stuffed ourselves with candy. We did not know which toy to play with first. Every year, I look back fondly on that most perfect of all Christmases in 1970, and wish every child could experience one half as spectacular as mine was that year.
Thanks Mommy and DaddyI