…prefaced by some personal crankiness. I wish that the Pilgrims had somehow been given the foresight to realize that celebrating Thanksgiving a scant month prior to Christmas, Hanukkah and other holiday celebrations was ridiculous. Couldn’t there be a mandate to move it back a month or two? I mean, aside from the possibility that cranberries and squash might not be in season, what would be the harm?
We don’t even have a tree yet this year, and I told my husband that if one should magically appear, I wasn’t sure I was up to dragging out the ornaments; I am simply feeling spent. It is not a particularly jolly state of mind.
However, ultimately good cheer is my objective, and the other day I was perusing Inspire (the online support group I participate in) when I came upon a post that really warmed my heart. It was written by my good (online) friend Alta (name not changed), a five foot zero spitfire of Italian/French extraction who is giving lung cancer a run for its money. She gave me her blessing to reprint it, although the names have been changed in order to maintain the privacy of her friends and family. Please enjoy:
“Our house looks festive, the outdoor lights are up and the Christmas tree is decorated. Todd and I did our shopping on line and many of our neighbors brought over some home made cookies. I could not be more content. All I have to do is admire my little Elf’s magic work come to life. My kids did a great job. They put everything together just like I would have. I remember giving this exact gift to them for many, many years. This year and last year it was their turn to give me the Christmas Spirit and God knows I needed the help. Todd asked me to share with you our Christmas story and offered to type it for me. He knows I miss writing to you.
It was in December of 1992; Todd and I had just bought the house we live in now. It was bigger, with more bedrooms and more bathrooms than the one we lived in before. It is a simple large ranch style house with a ½ acre of backyard for the kids to play in. We moved in on December 22 just two days before Christmas Eve. Our youngest child was nine months old and with the moving preparations, I simply did not have time to decorate our new home. I barely had time to buy presents let alone decorate. We did have a beautifully lit real Christmas tree right in the middle of the living room.
On Christmas Eve, I tried my best to create a cheerful setting for the family but by the looks on my five children’s faces, I knew they were home sick. They already missed their friends they left behind.
The walls and windows were bare, the arrival of cardboard boxes and furniture were scattered all over the house. When one of us raised our voices, the echo bounced from one wall to another. The only thing we had in place, were the beds. Todd bought a couple of bundles of firewood to light a fire in the fireplace. With a heavy heart, I searched for my children’s Christmas stockings in the pile of boxes that were by the basement door. I hung the stockings on the mantle thinking that maybe it will help to cheer the kids up.
Jenny was ready for bed right about the same time Todd finished putting the crib together. While I was tucking in the baby, my teenage daughters admired their bathroom. We now had a “girl’s bathroom” and a “boy’s bathroom”. Believe me it is a very, very big deal when you have teenagers of different genders in one family.
Todd planned to take the boys to the grocery store and I asked him to buy three pre-roasted chickens, anything else he thought the kids would want to eat for dinner and a special desert to celebrate Christmas Eve.
I took advantage of the quiet time, sat on one of the moving boxes and had a cup of hot tea. My heart was overjoyed and yet saddened; I knew I was going to miss my old neighborhood. After all, we are creatures of habit aren’t we? I worried about the kids changing schools, leaving their friends behind right in the middle of Winter break. If we had waited to move, we would have lost the opportunity to purchase this house for the price the owners were asking. I sat there taking in a deep breath, (at the time I could do that) and hoped for the best for all of us. I was very tired and wished for some kind of a sign that would reassure me; I was hoping we made the right decision. All I wanted was for my children to feel the Christmas spirit and to appreciate their Blessings.
After dinner, we all sat by the fireplace on the carpeted floor in the family room. Todd and the kids were playing a card game of Uno. They were in their pajamas bopping their heads back and forth humming along with Burl Ives singing “Frosty the Snowman” on the radio. Even the flames in the fireplace danced along with this favorite Christmas tune. Finally, a little bit of the Christmas Spirit came around our family.
As I exhaled a sigh of relief, I heard our doorbell ring. I got up reluctantly mumbling with annoyance, “Who could that be at nine thirty at night?” I was not a happy camper and not in the mood to entertain anyone.
I opened the front door and I was bewildered by what was standing there in front of me. I let out a very loud… “Oh my God!” “Santa! Santa! You came! You came to our house! Thank you! Thank You! Kids! Come quick! Santa’s here! Santa’s here! Todd Honey! Santa Claus is here to see us! Come here quick!”…
Standing in the entry of our house was Santa Claus in a beautiful red and white suit. His belt buckle was golden and shiny. His beard and hair were snow white and real. He put down his big red bag full of presents next to his clean shiny black boots. Santa Claus began to distribute out the gifts; books, dolls, board games and there was even a stuffed animal for the baby. We all stood there staring and paralyzed with stupor. He handed me a box of chocolates and gave Todd a bottle of red wine. For a moment, my three older children were actually wondering if Santa really existed. Of course… I always knew Santa was real.
Todd approached me and with a soft voice and a puzzled look, he asked me when I planned this surprise. He then proceeded to say in a very quiet voice, “Wow, honey, you really pulled that one off.” I looked back at him with big wide eyes and said, “I didn’t plan this. I thought you did”.
I approached Santa and I said, “Oh Santa, thank you for visiting our house. Thank you so much”. I hugged and kissed him on the cheek and whispered in his ear…”Who are you?” He whispered back, “I’m Ed, your next door neighbor. Welcome to the neighborhood.”
Ed was 72 years old at the time. Todd and I took care of him and his wife Betty until they both passed away last year at the ages of 91. We made sure they always had a Thanksgiving dinner and a decorated Christmas tree by their family room window. They had two children who lived in Alaska and no grand children. They were married to each other for 64 years and were left to be alone for many Holidays. Ed will always be our Santa Claus; He made “The Night Before Christmas” a reality. It is when you least expect it that wishes come true. We must always believe and never give up.”