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[personal profile] policraticus
Christmas is, hands down, my favorite holiday and that is due, I think, to my Father.

When he was a small boy he was convinced he saw Santa Claus very early in the morning on Christmas Day,1936. My father awoke and felt the urgent call of nature. He went across the hall to the bathroom. Since it had started to snow that evening, he stood on tiptoes to see the progress of the fall. There, to his utter shock, was Saint Nick, just a few feet from his nose. It was very clear, he reported, and the sleigh, beard, suit and reindeer were all in evidence. It looked like Santa was adjusting the harness, preparing to depart. Now far from being happy, my Father described his reaction as terror. He had been warned many times by my Grandfather that, should he get up too early, sneak downstairs, and catch Santa, his toys would be taken back by the Saint as a punishment. He ducked, hissed an urgent call to his brothers to come and see. After all, if he lost his toys the others would, too. But when my uncles finally arrived Santa had vanished. Everyone in the house was soon awake and the story was quickly dismissed by the adults as either a trick of the light, or a half remembered dream. My father, terrified he had ruined Christmas wanted to go downstairs to the tree post haste. My Grandmother, sensing a trick, herded the four of them back to bed. Christmas would not come early. Oh! how my father must have suffered those few hours of waiting in the dark. How he must have bewailed his fate. To have seen Santa! And now perhaps to have lost his toys! And then not to be believed! It was as unjust a situation as any 7 year old could conjure. The next day dawned brightly and everyone but my father ran to the tree with joy. My grandmother came back upstairs and reported to him that his stocking was full, and beneath the tree were packages directed to him. What relief! But puzzlement too. He insisted he had seen Santa Claus. My Grandfather, using his clearest logic, explained that if he had caught Santa, the toys should be gone. So, by any standard, with presents in hand, my father must have been mistaken. This did little to satisfy my father. So, up to the second floor they all went to review the scene of the sighting. No sleigh tracks, pointed out my Grandfather, no hoof prints noticed my Grandmother. Then my fathers older brother said "What's that?" There, on the roof, in the snow, was found a small china doll, a girls gift, broken as if it had been dropped from a height. As if, the boys quickly reasoned, it had fallen from the sleigh itself. This event made a big impression on the boys, who have all remain firm believers to this day.
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January 2017

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