Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Best Christmas Ever

I think every kid loves Christmas. I was no different. But while I was growing up I knew no one who was afraid of Santa Claus. No one, that is, but me.

There was no good reason that I could ever figure out then, and to this day I still don't know why he scared me. However, the man in the bright red suit, with that long, white beard, jingled when he walked. That wasn't normal. Even in my childish mind, I knew no one was supposed to jingle as they crunched along the snowy street.

I don't remember at what period in my childhood that I first became aware that Santa existed. I do remember that when I was nine I figured out it was a physical impossibility for one man to stop at every house in the world in a single night. I told mom of my findings and all she did was smile and ask me, "Are you sure about that?" I was a kid. But I got good grades in school. I was sure.

During all those "believing" years I waited in our town square, along with every other kid in our small Minnesota town and its outreaching farmlands, itching for Santa to show up. He was in town one day a year. For a few hours. After that we never saw him again till the following Christmas. So I suspect you're asking yourself why, if I was afraid of him, did I head out to to see the jingly man. The answer is simple. Candy. The forbidden treat mom almost never allowed in the house because it would either rot our teeth or give us diabetes.

But that one day a year, when Santa arrived with a big red sack on his back, every kid for miles around waited for just one thing. No, it wasn't to sit on his lap and say what we wanted for Christmas. It wasn't to have our photo taken with him. None of those things existed in our little town. The reason we followed him from the town square and all around the shopping area was for just one thing. His bag was stuffed with small brown bags filled with Christmas candy. Enough for every kid around.  And for that I braved the cold, the snow, and the jingly man.

Santa aside, I loved everything about the holiday. I loved the Christmas lights strung across main street, diffused into glowing circles by falling snow. Even blizzards wove their magic, keeping us inside, watching the world creep along from our upstairs windows and all the while, tracing with our fingers the etchings left by Jack Frost's midnight visit and always wishing the wonderful works would last the day through.

Long, pointy icicles decorated our roof; snow nearly obliterated the landscape; the house smelled of pine and Gene Autry sang "Here Comes Santa Claus" on our scratchy old record player. My sisters and I wrapped our gifts for mom and dad and hid them where we thought no one would find them. We couldn't buy much. But we always had something. Sometimes a hand print made at school or an ornament for the tree or a potholder woven of strips of old yarn.

We crafted red and green chains out of construction paper and strung popcorn and cranberries on sewing thread, then draped the resultant garlands along the fragrant branches. Our tree shimmered with light, sparkly ornaments, home made goodies, and badly hung tinsel.

We helped  mom make cookies, popcorn balls, fudge, peanut brittle, and watched in amazement as she poured brandy over an entire fruitcake--which we were never allowed to eat. My sisters and I fought over who's turn it was to use the nutcracker and who got to eat the last Swedish rosette and exactly how many pieces of Keekla each one of us had eaten and who should get the last delicate pastry.

The week before Christmas was the busiest of all. My sisters and I were in the church girl's choir and as such, were always part of the Christmas program. Add to that the caroling in our church neighborhood and tap dancing at the local Lion and VFW Clubs' Christmas parties, it was a week only the young could endure with so much enthusiasm.

In addition to that, my sisters and I found time to search the house, snooping through closets, under beds, and even the scary attic, just to see what surprises we might unearth. We never found any of our presents. To this day I have no idea where mom hid them.

When I was eight, all I wanted under the tree was a furry jacket and stadium boots, a sort of cross between today's Ugg's and snow boots. I yearned for nothing else. When mom requested a list, those two things were right at the top, followed by some Nancy Drew books and maybe new crayons and drawing paper.

If my feet were
visible, you'd see
my new boots too.
 It was that Christmas I recall the most clearly. I woke while it was still dark and tip toed into the living room and there they were, under the tree, and not even wrapped. My stadium boots and my furry jacket. I was in heaven. I tried them on and then took them back to bed with me. That's where mom and dad found me in the morning. Still wearing my wonderful presents. It was my best Christmas ever.

In a time when the world
is in chaos, may you find
the abiding peace and
joy that the birth of our
Savior promises.


  1. Fun going down memory lane ... I used to think that Santa could really see me and I would look out my window trying to find him!

  2. I love this! thank you for your sweet comment on my blog. I'm ashamed that I was the one thinking about reporting that poor old man for being rude to "my baby" - protective mama bear came out - that same "baby" gave his heart to Jesus a few months ago. It's God's grace in our home, and only that which shines.
    Really enjoyed your story- love - "I got good grades in school, I was sure" lol
    and I'm interested in knowing more about that "Keekla" - we don't have Keekla in the deep south to my knowledge!

  3. Your Christmas memories took me back to a time where life was more simple and a time of magic! Jack Frost hasn't been to our home since we got double pane windows and I miss his art work.

    Merry Christmas dear Friend!