That’s my mom… And that’s Santa. *Nudge, nudge* *Wink, wink*
Every year, without fail; we would gather around the frost covered glass of our living room window–and listen.
As the familiar sound of the sleigh bells filled the air, the butterflies in my stomach would grow more alive; and then we'd hear him–crunching his way up our front porch stairs with a cheerful and boisterous hello.
Ho! Ho! Ho!
He always looked the same to me, with his cushy red suit and white beard; and he never stopped being the kind of Santa that everyone grew to love. "Well hello there, little girl! Come on over here and tell Santa what you want for Christmas this year!"
My heart wanted to run straight into his arms and tell him how much I loved him, but my legs wouldn't let me. There I would stand; my hand like a Band-Aid covering my mouth, and watch as my brother would divulge his deepest, most absurd, desires. When they were finished, Santa would look over and smile at me; but I wouldn't budge–I couldn't... I was paralyzed by fear.
I never knew how I got there, perhaps a gentle tug by my mother, or a swift kick in the ass by my brother; but somehow I'd end up right where he wanted me...
Sitting high on his knee, whispering whatever a girl my age might whisper into his very important ear.
Every Christmas for eleven years, I'd wait; watching as he made his way from house to house with a pillowcase stuffed full of toys. Every little boy and girl on our street was probably sitting in his or her window doing the exact same thing that I was...
Then one foggy Christmas Eve, we went to my aunt's house to celebrate. As we stepped into the car, my mother grabbed my arm and pointed to the sky, "Look! LOOK! Do you SEE IT?"
"What? I don't see anything?"
She put her hands on my shoulder and knelt down, "It's Santa's sleigh! Don't you see it?"
I squinted with all my might and then stopped–dead in my tracks... *gasp*
"I see him!"
Later that night, as I was lying upside down on my aunt's living room chair, I overheard a conversation that would forever change the way I felt about my jolly old friend. "I can't believe she hasn't figured it out yet!" my mother laughed, "It'll be a shame when she finally does."
When my grandfather died, I remember staring at him during the funeral–retracing every good memory he had ever etched into my heart. I was sad that we never got to say good-bye and I wondered if he had felt the same way. As I stood there, blankly staring at this man that was loved by so many, I couldn't help but feel a little joy.
Some people touch us in ways that can never leave this world... And just like Santa, my grandfather was one of those folks!
Miss you, Gramps... Ho! Ho! Ho!
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