In some families, Santa Claus comes to call ahead of Christmas Eve every year. Other families take their children to see St. Nicholas at the mall every year.
I only remember one time Santa came to see my brother and me, and one later visit to the mall to see him.
The evening Santa came to our house when I was three made a big impact on me. My brother and I had already had our baths and changed into our footed pajamas. Our mother was reading to us. I don’t recall what the book was, but it might have been “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” Or it could have been any of the Christmas-related books our family owned.
A knock on the door.
One of my parents opened the front door to the house. That door led straight into the living room where we sat on the couch.
Guess who it was?
I was shocked. I didn’t know Santa made house calls in advance of the Big Night. But there he was! Fat and red and bearded, just like the books said.
I wasn’t scared of him, like my daughter was many years later when Santa came to see her.
But I was speechless. For a few minutes.
Then, when Santa asked if I’d been good, I nodded vigorously. Probably more vigorously than my conduct that year had warranted.
And when he asked me what I wanted, I had my wish list ready. Within a few minutes I was bouncing on the couch in my desire to tell him everything. I needed a quiet reminder from my mother that Santa hadn’t left his bounty yet, and he wouldn’t for a few more days.
Being a true believer in the “naughty or nice” theory, I settled down and delivered my requests with more decorum. I even helped my little brother remember what he wanted for Christmas.
Santa did leave me plenty of presents that year. And some for my brother, too.
Maybe next year I’ll write about our visit to the mall. I was a couple years older then, but I remember far less about it. The second time you talk to Santa makes far less of an impression than the first.
What do you remember about seeing Santa from your childhood?