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Yes Cricket, there is a Santa Claus

August 16, 2008

Slice of Life Sunday is a meme dedicated to preserving the accounts of events cut out of the lives of average people just like you and me from all over the world. And like having ice cream with your pie, there is more to this meme than meets the eye – it’s a meme a` la mode. I hope you will join me and share a Slice of your Life.

Sometimes doing the most mundane things triggers a memory. This slice of life is the result of such.

 

Why is it that the simplest of chores are the most irritating? You know the kind, the ones you keep putting off until there is no more putting them off. I do not know why, but cleaning out my purse is one of those chores. I allow receipts, stubs, and pocket change to build up to a point where my purse strap leaves a mark on my shoulder and I lose fifteen pounds by just not carrying a purse. Then a day finally arrives when the chore absolutely has to be done. Today was one of those days. I am always amazed to see what is in my purse and how long it has been there. I was surprised to learn I had $32.56 in change, although my all time record was $40.04. I also found receipts for Christmas present purchases I made for my grandchildren. I quick viewing of them made me glad I had $30 left over! As I reminisced about last Christmas and how much joy it brings me to watch the kids open their gifts, I thought back to a Christmas in my youth. The Christmas when I learned there was definitely a Santa Claus.

 

I was eight years old and in the third grade. Several of my classmates took it upon themselves to educate the naïve ones of us that there was no Santa Claus. I remember getting so angry at one boy in particular, Roger Smail, on the last day of school before Christmas break. Since we lived in a very small town, there was only one class for each grade, thus everyone of the same age was in the same classroom every year. I had a schoolgirl crush on Roger because he had always been very nice to me. He would come to my desk and compliment how well I colored within the lines of whatever picture we were given. His opinion meant a lot to me, so when he started talking about Santa Claus being made up and it was our parents who bought the Christmas presents, I was at first confused. Since “he” said it, it must be true. But like most children who first hear about Santa not being real, I was not ready to let go of my beliefs. How could I not believe in Santa? He brought me a nice doll every year and a new outfit of clothes. Sometimes we would get more presents, but I could always count on a doll and a dress, usually ones that I picked out in the Sears & Roebuck catalog. So after careful consideration, I decided Roger was wrong and told him so. He and the other boys laughed at me. I didn’t mind their laughing but when Roger said, “You have to be stupid to believe in Santa Claus,” I got mad. I was not stupid and I wasn’t going to let a dumb boy say I was. I told him to shut up, but he started chanting, “Stupid girls believe in Santa Claus.” He was in the middle of saying it for the fourth time when I found my hand slapping his face. I mean I really slapped him. His face had a red outline of my handprint and we were both so shocked we couldn’t move. All the other kids were shocked and everyone stood still. It seemed like forever before Mrs. Norris came over to see what was going on. After hearing both sides of our tale, she sent both Roger and I to stand in a corner as punishment. After school that day, before I got on the bus, I walked over to Roger and apologized for slapping him. I also said “there is to a Santa.” He gave me a sheepish grin and said, “I don’t know if there is a Santa Claus or not, but I do know you sure can hit for a girl.”

 

I told my mom what had happened in school when I got home. I really had no choice since my older sister was in the same class (she failed kindergarten and we ended up going through school in the same grade) and she witnessed the entire event. I ended my accounting of the event with, “There is too a Santa, isn’t there mommy.” I figured I would get a good whipping since I got in trouble at school and was surprised when I didn’t. Mom just said I was not to hit kids and left the room with tears in her eyes. My older sister, with her hands on her hip, said, “You sure are a stupid kid, just like Roger said. No, there is not a Santa Claus. Mom and dad buys our presents and puts them under the tree after we go to bed. But this year there ain’t gonna be any presents because dad got laid off from his job and they don’t have any money to be spending on Christmas presents. And now you have just made mom feel even worse about it. You really are stupid!” And, with that said, she stomped off. I sat alone in the living room looking at the Christmas tree in the corner. Now, I was confused. Was there or wasn’t there a Santa? After thinking about it for awhile, I decided I sure hoped there was one since we didn’t have any money.

 

The next day was Christmas Eve Day. I always liked Christmas Eve because we would go to grandma’s house for a big supper and then open her gifts. When we were little, grandma would make all three of us girls a ragdoll for Christmas. We also got a doll from Santa, so we would have “sister dolls” or “best friend dolls” to play with. Once we started going to school, grandma made us a knitted scarf and mittens to match instead of a ragdoll. I was surprised, and somewhat disappointed, to open my gift and find a ragdoll this year. My mittens from last year had holes in the fingertips and I really wanted a new pair. I hugged and thanked grandma anyways and secretly hoped Santa would bring me a new pair of mittens. After we opened our presents, Toupey, my older sister, told grandma I had gotten into trouble at school and had to stand in a corner for hitting a boy. Of course that led to a whole discussion about Santa Claus. I still maintained my belief in Santa but noticed mom and dad looked very sad.

 

Grandma listened to what I had said and answered my question, “There is a Santa Claus isn’t there grandma?”, with, “Yes, Cricket, there is a Santa Claus. But Santa isn’t a man in a red suit that comes down chimneys with a sack full of toys. That part about Santa is made up, like Little Red Riding Hood or the Three Little Pigs. Santa Claus is the spirit of giving that lives in everyone’s heart. Sometimes that spirit of giving can only give us presents that we need, not just what we want. It is because Santa lives in my heart that I made you this ragdoll. Your mom and dad have the spirit of Santa in their heart too. But sometimes they don’t have the money to buy all of you kids the presents their heart wants them to give you. So, whatever Santa leaves for you under the tree tonight, just know that it comes from the heart. And you shouldn’t be hitting other kids because they tease you. Did hitting that boy make him believe what you believed?” I shook my head no and grandma finished with, “No, of course it didn’t. Hitting someone is never the answer to a problem. Sometimes we just disagree with what other people believe. And it is OK to disagree. When we disagree with someone, we need to use the spirit of understanding that also lives in our heart. Instead of hitting someone when we disagree with them, we need to understand they have a right to believe what they want to believe and we have the right to believe what we want to believe.”

 

That night, as I tried to fall asleep thinking about everything grandma had said, I became even more confused. If grandma’s spirit of giving made her want to give me what I needed, then why did she make me a ragdoll instead of mittens? I really needed mittens. Mine had holes in them, which I had pointed out at Thanksgiving. Not only did my mittens not keep my fingers warm, it was embarrassing for other kids at school to see they had holes in them. I went to sleep thinking my spirit of understanding did not understand.

 

The next morning my younger sister woke everyone up with, “It’s Christmas! Santa Claus came!” We all ran down the stairs and stood in awe as we looked at all the presents under the Christmas tree. The four of us looked at one another and then attacked the presents, dividing up the gifts by the name written on the wrapped box. We each had a new coat and boots. Each of us girls had two new dresses with socks that matched and a new doll. There was one big box that had all three of our names on it. Once opened, we found a table and four chairs with a set of dishes. My younger brother also had a big box that contained a John Deere tractor. After we opened the gifts that were sitting in front of the tree, my older sister found four presents lying under the tree. There was one for each of us. We quickly opened them and found we each had a set of scarves and mittens like grandma had made the year before. Mom and dad had not said too much during all the mayhem of opening gifts. They kept looking at each other and said, “No, I didn’t” and “I don’t know what’s going on.”

 

It was many, many years later that I learned my Aunt Idie and Uncle Raymond had the spirit of Santa in their hearts too.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. August 17, 2008 1:16 am

    Your last sentence brought tears to my eyes. This is a wonderful, well told story.

  2. August 17, 2008 2:13 pm

    oh I got tears! this is just beautiful!
    btw, are you sure you had your purse? LOL

  3. August 18, 2008 5:58 am

    That is a beautifully written story of a wonderful memory that all children should hear. I know mine will!

  4. August 18, 2008 9:56 am

    Beautiful, heartwarming memory. I can’t get over how much change you had in your purse – it must have been heavy!

  5. August 21, 2008 8:47 am

    can you email me offline please? i got some good/bad news to share 🙂
    thanks
    jenhsmomsp2@gmail.com

  6. August 22, 2008 1:32 am

    I’m teary eyed too. We did that for my brothers and sisters one yr when my parents were having a really tough time of it (I was already married)… we snuck in and put stuff under the tree for my family. It was fun to hear the surprise story from them.

    🙂

  7. adamswife permalink
    August 22, 2008 11:58 am

    What Quilly said. You’ve gone and made me cry. I HATE starting a day with tears! Beautiful story, well-told. Such a good reminder for all of us.

  8. August 22, 2008 9:16 pm

    Well, I had tears in my eyes at the end of your story. So many meaningful words of wisdom, and such an example of true generosity of spirit and heart.

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