One Magical Christmas

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One Magical Christmas

When I was a little girl it wasn’t unusual for small children to believe Santa Claus is real. It was a more innocent and gentler time, back then.
Children in my generation weren’t as sophisticated and worldly as the current generation, but that wasn’t why I believed in the jolly old elf; I absolutely knew Santa existed, because I saw him.
In the northern end of California’s Sacramento Valley, the only white Christmas we have is fog. But, sometimes foggy nights can be just as magical as snowy ones for a small child, with the mist swirling and cloaking familiar landmarks and the fog’s gauzy drapery muffling the usual nocturnal sounds.
On this particular Christmas Eve, my fourth one ever, my older sisters and I were roused from our attempts to fall asleep quickly, so Santa could come, by our parents.
Holding fingers to their lips, they hurried us into the darkened living room.
Our house had no fireplace or chimney, but Santa chose our rooftop as his landing pad, nonetheless, and I shivered with delight when I heard the hoof beats of his reindeer overhead.
I held my breath, in both anticipation and out-right fear, as I heard the scraping and thumping move to our side yard, just beyond the window.
I found the courage to press my nose to the cold glass in time to see Santa, fur-trimmed red suit, white whiskers and all, climb into his sleigh, grab the reins and take to the sky behind his team of “eight tiny reindeer.”
I remember the thrill and how my skin tingled at the sight of the sleigh soaring over the treetops and fading from sight in the mist.
Our parents ushered us back to bed to await the morning, when we would rush to the tree to see what delights Santa left us.
How we managed to sleep that night, I’ll never know, but eventually we did.
That Christmas morning, the nuts and fruit in our stockings were more delicious than I’d ever tasted, and the toys, obviously created just for me by Santa’s elves, were the most perfect.
It was a magical Christmas.
Reminiscing with my sisters, years later, I was shocked to hear them laugh about the homemade Santa suit our older brother wore and the trouble he had getting the borrowed mule to pull a battered old wagon through the foggy darkness.
I had never guessed.
Even as an adult, knowing there is no Santa Claus, I’d never realized the enormity of this loving deception perpetrated by our brother and parents, for my benefit.
My sisters, those bigger girls who so often avoided or tormented me, had gone along with the game…for me.
As special and magical as the scene my childhood mind had created was, this new revelation swelled my heart even more with gratitude and love.
Unselfish acts are at the heart of Christmas and they are sometimes embodied in the character of Santa Claus.

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