My daughters believed in Santa longer than many children get to. This was partly because our family was blessed by Angels during the girls early years.
These unidentified Angels somehow knew this single mom needed a boost at Christmas time and Christmas gifts, treats, and food magically appeared on our doorstep every year we lived in Alaska.
The first time it happened, someone did the “12 Days of Christmas” for us. The “first day of Christmas,” I found a turkey on the hood of my car. Each day following, there were daily deliveries culminating on the 12th day when we were gifted with a 12-figurine Nativity set. The girls were ecstatic with each surprise. For me, this was a show of love that I needed at that time in my life.
Another year, when Cabbage Patch Kids were all the rage (this was back in the 80’s), each of my girls really wanted one. With a price of $50.00 each, and me struggling to keep us housed and fed, that was Not going to happen. But, some sweet Angel left two Cabbage Patch Kids on our doorstep that year. That was also the Christmas my oldest came to me with “The Question.” I was able to truthfully answer, “How could I be Santa? You know I cannot afford to buy Cabbage Patch Kids!” Even as adults, they still have Marcus and Sally.
We never did fully leave Santa behind as the girls grew up. We just morphed into “Santa is whoever wants to be Santa.” This was an easy transition because we did secret deliveries to other people’s doorsteps every year until they each left home. Nothing as extravagant as Cabbage Patch Kids, but something to let them know they were loved and being thought about. I later discovered my daughters enjoyed doing this as much as I did. When my youngest daughter came home from college for semester break every Christmas, one of her first questions would be “Who are we delivering to this year?”
Whether you want to call it the Spirit of Christmas or Santa, Christmas is a time when more people find ways to serve others. This story is another example of that sweet spirit of giving:
No Santa? Ridiculous!
I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma. I was just a kid.
I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: “There is no Santa Claus,” she jeered. “Even dummies know that!”
My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her “world-famous” cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so. It had to be true.
Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. “No Santa Claus?” she snorted….”Ridiculous! Don’t believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad!! Now, put on your coat, and let’s go.”
“Go? Go where, Grandma?” I asked. I hadn’t even finished my second world-famous cinnamon bun. “Where” turned out to be Kerby’s General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days. “Take this money,” she said, “and buy something for someone who needs it. I’ll wait for you in the car.” Then she turned and walked out of Kerby’s.
I was only eight years old. I’d often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping.
For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for.
I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church.
I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock’s grade-two class. Bobby Decker didn’t have a coat. I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn’t have a cough; he didn’t have a good coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat!
I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that.
“Is this a Christmas present for someone?” the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down. “Yes, ma’am,” I replied shyly. “It’s for Bobby.”
The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good winter coat. I didn’t get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.
That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, “To Bobby, From Santa Claus” on it.
Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker’s house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa’s helpers.
Grandma parked down the street from Bobby’s house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. “All right, Santa Claus,” she whispered, “get going.”
I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma.
Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.
Fifty years haven’t dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker’s bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were — ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.
I still have Grandma’s Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95.