True Christmas Story: A Visit from St. Nicholas


My brother and me with Santa

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?

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  1. My dad started an annual tradition when we were quite young. We drove home from church and dad told mom and us three kids, “I’ll go check to see if Santa came last night.” Wow, we were excited but at the same time, we were concerned that perhaps Santa skipped our house that year; maybe we were too naughty, or maybe the guy in red just got overwhelmed with his delivery tasks. (The Christmas tree was in a room of the house that we didn’t have access to after we went to bed Christmas Eve. Mom and dad loaded up the tree with gifts after we went to bed and we didn’t get to see it until after Mass.)

    What we didn’t realize while we were anxiously awaiting news of Santa was that dad was in the house, turning on the tree lights, making sure “Santa” had eaten the cookies and drank the glass of wine (no milk for the fat guy), and then he came out the front door, walked towards the car, and jumping up and down he said, “Santa came! I’m so excited, Santa came last night!”

    I love that dad became a kid at that very moment and he really set the stage for us youngsters.

  2. Oh, the facial expressions on the both of you are priceless, Theresa! I remember Santa made a house call one year and I asked him if he lived in an igloo. He laughed and said, “Ho Ho Ho, oh no.”

  3. Theresa love your memory. I have a photo of myself in my mothers arms standing next to the big red guy. I was petrified. My children weren’t as bad but still remind me that its crazy to trust some stranger in a red suit. The magic has gone out of christmas now because they refuse to get the dreaded yearly photo.

    • Thanks for the comment.
      I never made a big deal over pictures with Santa when my kids were little, but my sister has made her kids go every year — and the oldest is now in college! My brother’s kids see Santa every year, too, and the picture is always in the Christmas card.
      Each family has its own traditions and tolerance level.

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