…Santa Claus woke me up.
I’m serious. I was seven or eight years old, and we were in our new house, the one where I’d spend the rest of my childhood.
I felt a hand on my shoulder, gently shaking me, and I opened my eyes. The hall light was on, and there he was. “Santa!” I said groggily. I reached up and touched his beard, and it was bushy and soft.
“I wanted to wish you a merry Christmas,” he said.
“You keep being a good girl. Now go back to sleep.”
And I did. I didn’t spring from my bed, screaming for my siblings, or ask to see the reindeer. I just closed my eyes as I was told (ever the obedient middle child) and was asleep again.
The next morning, I announced my incredible news. “Santa woke me up last night!”
“Really,” Mom said, unfazed. She too had seen Santa as a youngster. “How wonderful!”
“You must have dreamed it,” my cynical older brother said. My sister couldn’t remember Santa waking her up and thus sided with our brother on the dream theory. Because I didn’t want to make them jealous, I let it go. Besides, I was the well behaved kid in the family. I speculated that if Santa was going to visit just one of us, obviously it was going to be me.
It wasn’t a dream. I had touched that beard, and Santa had spoken to me on the busiest, most important night of the year.
Jeff, who lived next door and knew a lot about life, had a theory. “It was your father. Anyone can rent a red suit.”
Please. One would think a child could tell the difference between her dad and Santa Claus. Probably, Jeff was jealous.
I never saw Santa again, though I hung in there year after year, hoping.
But one year, my son woke up and saw the light from Rudolph’s nose, turning the air red outside his window. And another year, my daughter was awakened by Santa, too, and told him she loved him. “I love you, too, honey,” he said with a chuckle (at least, this is how she reported it).
While I’ve known for some time who puts those presents under the tree, it seems to me that every Christmas Eve, I’m awakened by a some strange sound, some small clatter, and I think, “He’s here.”
And just like in the olden days, I close my eyes and go right back to sleep, safe in the knowledge that St. Nicholas is still watching over me and mine.
Safe travels, Santa Claus!
I’ll be taking a week or two off from blogging, gang. I wish you a warm, safe and happy holiday, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the honor you’ve given me by reading my books. Happy New Year!
Note: My sister wrote today to correct me: She remembers Santa waking her clear as day, and she was thrilled. : ) Makes sense, since she was (and is) a very sweet person.