My mother helps bundle me up against the cold for our sledding trip to Shadyside Park. After a couple of hours on the hill, my cheeks are chapped, and my mittens are soaked. I am freezing cold, and very happy.
The hot chocolate my grandmother has ready on our return restores the circulation to my numb fingers and toes.
I cannot stop thinking about Santa. I worry that he might come early and see I am not asleep and pass by without leaving me anything.
“Mom, can we leave Santa some milk and cookies?”
“That’s a good idea,” she says, smiling.
In the living room, a cloud of smoke from my grandfather’s cigar floats above him while he laughs at something on the Ed Sullivan Show. He tells me if I have not been good Santa will leave coal in my stocking instead of candy. But he is only teasing . . . I hope.
Once my brother and I are in bed we listen closely for the slightest sound of Santa’s approach. At one point he whispers, “I think I heard footprints on the roof.” We quietly debate this possibility for several minutes until the fatigue from sledding and the warm milk take over.
Ordinarily, on school mornings all I want to do is stay in bed and sleep. However, this morning, like past Christmas mornings is totally different. By the time the first red glow of sunrise paints the bedroom window curtain, I, along with my brother and sister are wide awake and pacing impatiently behind the closed living room door.
One of us taps on mom’s bedroom door. “Mom, wake up. Did Santa come, did he?”
She appears from her bedroom dressed in her bathrobe, yawning and smiling.
“Let’s go see,” she says.
It is tradition for mom to open the living room door. She does this much too slowly. My circuits are nearly overloaded.
The door is open and the lights come on.
“Wow” is all I can say as I race for my section of gifts. My eyes are as bright as headlights. My heart is racing. All three of us are calling out in a chorus of excitement what Santa has brought us.
“I got a Lone Ranger mask with a holster and gun and a new basketball and an eight ball you shake and it really tells the future,” I squeal all in one long breath.
“You have something else over there,” mom says, pointing to a spot beside my basketball.
“Some new underwear,” I exclaim, but with much less enthusiasm. She did that on purpose.
I am still busy with my new toys when the delicious smells of the Christmas dinner my grandmother is preparing drift into the room.
I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year.