Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Could My Father Have Been Santa Claus?

Because my father was a Funeral Director back when funeral directors were always on call we rarely went on vacations. When we did it was unusual if we went very far. The North Pole was only two hours away so we made that trip a few times. Every time was magical. Of course Santa Claus lived there. Although I knew that, one year on Christmas morning I was convinced my father was the real Santa.

The night before had been disappointing. Oh family members came. Piles of presents were under the tree. I hung my stocking and put the milk and cookies out with my brother. But it was raining outside. Any snow on the ground had been washed away. I'd never known a Christmas without snow in all my seven years. Besides the lack of snow, my father had to work. He made it home just as our mother was telling us it was time to get ready for bed. I was standing by the Christmas tree when he came in soaking wet. After pulling a package out from under his coat, he took the coat off and hung it over the bannister. Then he placed the package on a chair and came into the living room. After giving us hugs and asking about our Christmas Eve, my father grabbed that package and went to the kitchen. My mother had a plate full of food ready for him in the refrigerator. I was right behind him. I was keeping track of that package now lying on the counter.
I sat at the table while my father ate his Christmas Eve dinner. As soon as he finished, my mother was in the kitchen reminding  me it was time for bed. I tried stalling but it didn't work. Saying good night, I opened the door to the backstairs which led up to my bedroom. I stalled again, eyeing that package until my mother hustled me along. I was okay with that.
There were two registers in my bedroom floor. One looked directly down into the kitchen. Once I had my nightgown on and my teeth brushed I turned the light off-stretched out on the floor and peeked through the register. All I could see was white tissue paper and Christmas stickers on that counter.
I tiptoed down to the kitchen. My excuse was ready. I was thirsty. I didn't have to use it. I could hear my parents talking in the front room. The package was no where to be seen. I went back upstairs to bed.
While I thought I'd never get to sleep it was soon morning and I was rushing down the front stairs and into the living room with my brother. The stockings were bulging. But it was a package wrapped in white tissue paper kept together by Christmas stickers that caught my eye. It was sitting under the tree on top of some bigger presents. It was tradition for us to open one gift after our stocking gifts. Then we'd have breakfast and open the rest. I knew which gift I was going to open. I knew the present wrapped in white tissue paper was for me. I felt it. When it was time I took hold of that gift with my name in cursive on a tag. It was beautiful penmanship. I loved how the letters swirled as if caught in a breeze.I looked at my father. He was smiling.
Seconds later the tissue paper was off and I was holding on to a box I'd held on to in a small corner store just up the street. My mother and I had stopped there for a few things and while she paid for them, I found what I was now holding. I'd told my mother how much I hoped Santa would bring me the paint-by-number kit with primary colored felt tip markers included. Sitting there in my nightgown I looked back at my father. He was still smiling. Then he pointed to the window. It was snowing.

The paint-by-number kit with primary colored  felt-tip markers ended up my favorite Christmas gift that year. I don't know how my father ever knew I wanted it as much as I did. I convinced myself he was Santa Claus.

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