Fri 23 Dec, 2011 12:08 pm
Here's mine. You may have seen it before now. I want to read yours.
SANTA CLAUS' MOTHER AND THE NICK OF TIME
I’ve met Santa Claus’ mother twice, once for real. Really. The first Santa Claus’ mother was my own mom. She loved to have a little fun with children who answered the phone by asking, “Who is this?” Children did that back then, in the early sixties, way before ring tones and caller ID.
“This is Santa Claus’s mother.”
There would be a long pause as the kid thought out the implications, trying to get a hold on who they were speaking to, the implications being huge, if they laughed at the idea, if they doubted and turned out to be wrong….
“??Who?!?” they'd ask just to make sure.
“Santa Claus’s mother.” Mom would say evenly, “ I need to speak to your mother.”
They’d put the phone down and run to go call their own mom, all excited even if it was mid-July. The moms would then have a good chuckle over the sweet beliefs of children.
The second time was the second Christmas after my wife left. It was also the second time she had left so I pretty much knew she was gone for good. The boys were little, T was just past three and the baby was sixteen months, both too little to ask many questions which was good because I had few answers. But this was 1973, the end of the sixties, and a single man with two children seemed to fit the revolutionary spirit floating about. We sailed through that first Christmas surrounded by my friends from school.
They threw us a party at our apartment a couple of nights before Christmas. People brought food and toys for the boys. There was a tree given to us by a woman whose work gave out vouchers for Christmas trees instead of bonuses, not much of a bonus for a Jewish girl she said, and there were little gifts from classmates and two of the secretaries in the Dean of Journalism’s office.
I had spent a lot of time in the Dean of Journalism’s office trying to work out additional scholarship money or grant money or loans. My family was twelve hundred miles away in Connecticut and I laughed when my mom suggested that I come home for the holidays. I didn’t want to tell her that I probably couldn’t afford the gas to get there and back. I had no money except my monthly GI Bill check, which covered the rent, bought gas and groceries and not much else. By the time the daycare lady was paid we were on loose change till the next check.
We were a happy bunch though, I have to tell you. I got out of class most days by three and had the boys picked up from daycare and brought home by four. We played on the living room floor while dinner cooked. We built some very serious wooden block towers and zoomed trucks back and forth. The baby, B, went from just barely walking to holy-cow-where’d-he-go? We sang a lot of songs. We sang a lot of the same songs over. The same with books, I could, until a few years ago, recite ‘Hop on Pop’ verbatim.
The days swam by. That next August she tried to hire a lawyer but no one would take her case, a lawyer friend on mine handled the divorce paperwork and, against his advice, I had the words ‘incompetent mother’ removed from the decree. I don’t believe I thought such a thing existed, an example of the sweet beliefs of grownups. Meanwhile, the boys were turning into little people. By the time October arrived, they had become an inseparable pair of madcap comics, laughing and finding joy in the littlest of things. Was that an empty box and a laundry basket? No, two boats on the ocean. No no, two trucks full of dirt. Flapping the sides of a book made it into the back of a giant bird, taking you anywhere you wanted to go and we had graduated to animal books and dinosaur books with even the baby being able to tell daddy he was being silly when he said the brontosaurus was a T-rex.
We had less time together by then. I had taken an internship with a local politician, which meant I had to work until after four most days and I had landed a job with a television station working weekends. B had gotten pneumonia the previous February and I was trying to pay off the four hospital days of care by making $1.75 an hour. I would park the boys in the film room with a reel of Popeye cartoons and a box of toys while I did hourly station IDs and monitored the on-air audio of the Saturday Afternoon Movie or ABC’s Wide World of Sports.
I had no days off. There were no parties. Not being at school meant that I had lost touch with my classmates and teachers, the internship was mostly writing reply letters to constituents and suddenly, it was mid-December. I bought a little tree and strung the lights on it. I went to Sears on my lunch hour and bought three toys and a new shirt and pants for each of the boys on the credit card and volunteered to work Christmas Day to earn the double time pay.
I don’t remember what day it was that T asked when we were going to go see Santa Claus, but it was really close to the 25th, maybe the 22nd. These things sneak up on you, not the days, the changes in your children. Where did all this come from? Here was T, now fully four, very informed about the whole Santa Claus thing. His daycare mates apparently swapped hugely detailed descriptions of their own visits to the jolly old man and it had become very important that he and B go too. B was up for it, oh yeah. We had never gone to see a Santa. I didn’t have a clue where to take them. Was there one at Sears? I hadn’t seen one. How about Target? I was a little panicked. The next day at the Congressman’s office I asked around if anyone knew of where I could take the boys to see Santa. The staff seemed shocked that I hadn’t already done so and I felt the panic grow, that I had really screwed up. One woman said she knew and wrote down the address of The Santa House. “It’s a Designer Society fund-raiser. Every year they find an old house, different designers decorate rooms and they have a Santa talk to the kids, but I don’t know if it’s still open this close to Christmas.”
It wasn’t. Of course, I didn’t know that when I told the boys where we were going. They were ecstatic. We sang “Jingle Bells” in the car on the way over and T was reciting all the things he was going to ask for and B was saying he wanted all the same stuff as T and we were actually laughing all the way, ha ha ha.....until we pulled up to the address and saw the mostly dark house with only one car parked out front. I had a bad feeling. There were some lights on and there was a Santa’s House sign on the porch, but we were the only people walking up the long long sidewalk. T wondered out loud if Santa was home and I said we should see, B held my hand.
It was the perfect Santa House by the way, it was a dark green color and had a peaky, narrow, odd look about it. The porch and stair rails were wrapped in pine garland and the door had a giant wreath with a huge red bow. There were candlelights in every window, even in the little ones way up at the pointy top. Hanging from the porch ceiling were big ornament balls, blue ones, and translucent crystal snowflakes. We knocked on the door. There was no answer.
My boys had learned a few things about waiting in their young lives. They waited for me to come pick them up at daycare. They waited for the potatoes to bake or the rice and beans and ham to cook. They waited until it was time to go home from the station and they waited in the car while I ran into the Git-and-Go to get the bread, bananas and peanut butter. They were experienced at waiting. They waited at the door of the Santa House. I said I think you were right, T, I don’t think he’s home. He said we should wait. We waited.
The door opened a little. The boys said "Hello, is Santa here?" and I said "Sorry, are you closed?" And T gave me a look like I would if I was telling him to hush so I hushed. The door opened more. There was a woman standing there, mid-fifties I would guess now, graying, but not gray, hair fluffed up in the kind of hairdo Jackie Kennedy used to wear. She had on a long blue skirt that had plaid bows tied on it in wavy lines from the hemline to her waist and a red and white blouse with a ruffled front and she was carrying her overcoat. She was just leaving she said. Sorry, the Santa House was closed and today was the last day it was to be open. So sorry she said and she started to put on her overcoat, getting ready to leave.
There are times when your soul speaks instead of your brain, my head was spinning and was of very little use, but from somewhere came the words
“Aren’t you Santa Claus’s mother?”
The woman looked at me a little sharply. I’m sure she had had a long day and just wanted to be on her way home. She looked at the boys. I don’t know if mothers can see when children are motherless children, but this one might have been able to do that. Or I'd like to think that she was like you and me, the kind of person who, in order to keep magic alive, will become Santa Claus' brother or uncle or second cousin on his father's side or even pretend to be his mother. The magic was there, held suspended above us amidst all ornaments and snowflakes.
“Yes,” she said, “He’s all grown up now, but Santa Claus was once a little boy just like you boys are. Just like you.”
The boys were frozen, fixated. Santa Claus was one thing, this, this was something else, something bigger. She buttoned her coat. She would see Santa tonight before he headed for the North Pole to get everything ready, was there anything she could tell him for them? They were silent, thinking out the implications, trying to get a hold on who they were speaking to, the implications being huge, ......if they laughed at the idea, if they doubted … .
“Legos.” said T, “ I was going to ask for Legos and my brother wants a dumper truck.”
“Yes,” said B,” a dumper truck”.
The woman pulled out of her pocket one of those little address books everyone used to carry before Palm Pilots were thought of and carefully wrote in it for a moment.
“I’ll be sure to tell him”, she touched both boys on their faces. “Y’all have a Merry Christmas, boys, a Merry Christmas” and she stepped back inside the door.
“Thank you, I said,” Thank you Mrs. Claus, Merry Christmas! MERRY Christmas! Merry Christmas, Santa Claus’ mother!”
We walked back to the car. No, we didn’t. We danced back to the car. We hopped. We jigged. We jiggled and jingled-belled all the way. We went to the Pizza Hut on Fifteenth Street for a major celebration that night and, sure enough, on Christmas morning Santa Claus was smart enough to have a big box of Legos and a Tyco Dump Truck all wrapped up and waiting in the film room at the station. Wow!
Years later, the boys were long grown up, I was wandering through various neighborhoods looking for a good route for a Tuesday night bicycle club beginner ride when I spotted the odd little green house with it's pointy top and it’s long long sidewalk. All those days came sweeping back to me in a single moment, and I remembered when, just when I needed her most, Santa Claus' mother had arrived in the nick of time.
Copyright 2005 Jonathan Jeffries
I have one little snippet of a story.
One year, we took the kids to a Christmas party, on Christmas Eve night. They all were too worldly by then to believe in Santa. But, we got them to wondering. While they were being distracted by all the cousins, uncles and aunts, and such, mrs edgarblythe and I snuck out and drove home. We set out all their gifts and returned to the party. When our family entered the house, right at midnight, they all were mystified. My son, the oldest, wrestled between his common sense and what his eyes told him for a long time.
Reading your two beautiful stories show us all too clearly that Christmas is not about presents and goodies, it's all about making people happy and bringing some magic to the day, sometimes it takes only little effort to do so.
For us Krauts, Christmas Eve is the most important day and us children didn't see the decorated tree until the evening and no presents were visible either, so it was always quite magical when the living room door finally opened and we could see the festive lit-up tree and the presents underneath who were brought by "Christkindl" in form of an Angel (no Santa for us).
We weren't allowed to open the presents just yet, no, my Mom wanted us to sing some Christmas songs first. In our minds it dragged on forever and our singing became faster and faster until my Mom finally had enough of us ruining the magical moment.
I have an older brother (Harry) who loved to tease me on Christmas Eve . Before we could enter the living room he used to peek through the keyhole and tell me that he just saw "Christkindl" with my presents. Of course I wanted to take a peek too and was glued to the keyhole what seemed like an eternity and saw absolutely nothing, it was just pitch dark (my parents covered the keyhole). The minute I let up, Harry claimed to see it again and I was stuck at the keyhole once more.
Oh, the times I spent at the keyhole until I finally caught on to him.....
When I was going to give Ben his first drum set (age 9), the box was HUGE and, when moved, made distinct cymbal-like sounds, so where was I going to hide such a mammoth thing?
I told him I had to hide this big box of camping cookware
in his closet, that it was for his step-mom and he was not
to allow her anywhere
near it until Christmas.
He was a very good guardian. She never saw the box,,,
,,,, and he was stunned on Christmas when the box turned out to be for him.
Joe(he's been a professional rock drummer for more years than I care to think about now)Nation
Older brothers have the most interesting relationships with younger sisters.
Joe(thanks for sharing)Nation
Santa shot himself . 2 feet from fireplace. With a derringer of all things.
forensics said he had ~2 bottles of rum in him.
Another casualty to the lunacy of consumerism.
Thats one for a short story
maybe by Stephen King
The keyhole effect.
Haha, I doubt that Hjarloprillar, but perhaps our constant bickering and fist fightings could make for an interesting sibling rivalry book.
I have no sibling rivalry
My sister is a homebody breader
I do only what Nietzsche. Hiedeggar, Kant . Freud. Wittgenstein.
[sorry for spelling]
Ask questions. and never back down.
I get the distinct feeling [promoted by your comment]
That my 'way of posting. My nature. is adverse to watery nice nothing nature of this forum. That most here are mental midgets.
That no question is actually meant to be serious..
Prove me wrong
HO HO HO..
the gloves come off.
Time to get at least 4 of the 8 cylinders running
That most here are mental midgets.
Ah yes, this statement tells more about you than the ones you try to insult.
Perhaps you should look elsewhere for like-minded people.
Prill, you misunderstood Calamity Jane's post - she was not talking about you and rivalry, but the one she used to have with her brother and whether or not it would make a good story for a Stephen King book.
I do only what Nietzsche. Hiedegger, Kant . Freud. Wittgenstein.
[sorry for spelling]
Ask questions. and never back down.
Read them but can't spell them. hmmm. Heidegger
I've known people who spend their lives never backing down
and all they get are spent lives.
A wonderful story ----I really enjoyed it.
Joe(got any of your own?)Nation
Yes I could tell stories of my own - but none so touching as yours.
Our Christmasses were always kind of fun and still full of traditions and relatives coming for visits. This created now and then "smoke in the kitchen" which really means a verbal fight. Several ladies telling one another how to handle a goose......
We always had rimes on the gifts and these rimes should somehow fit the gift without telling exactly what it was.
My father was extreemly good at this. One year he succeeded in getting in "smoke in the kitchen" in every verse no matter what was in the gift - it still fitted.
Then it was the year when I was not allowed to sing along in the kindergarten.
Instead of "Jesus comes with blessings" I sung "Jesus comes with bedclothes".
For me it was logical - Jesus comes at Christmas and so did our relatives, which meant making beds and taking down bedclothes from the attic.
Oh yes then there was the lady from the area who came over Second Day of Chtistmas to have a cup of coffee and sat down and read our Christmas mail.
In those days it was Christmas letters and not just a card with the name on.
I better stop as I could go on...
I'd love to see some examples of those rimes.
Growing up we would take great pains to wrap things so you couldn't tell what they were: a book would get padded with three inches of tissue paper, a set of wrenchs would be re-packed in a shoe box, a extra large piece of cardboard would get a little jewelry box folded inside it. Oh, and yes, we would add medicine bottles with some nuts/screws or coins to throw off any "package shakers".
Joe(so much fun)Nation
Mom wrapped most of our Christmas gifts, but Dad used to take great delight in disguising a few easy-to-guess gifts. Every year I asked for at least one book, and I usually knew exactly which present it was and told everyone. My father eventually got tired of me doing this, so he told Mom that from then on, HE would wrap all my books. I never could identify one after that.
His best disguise was the year he took a 1-gallon round plastic jug, cut off the top, put two books inside it, and inserted a shortened empty wrapping paper tube in the center of it. When it was all wrapped with paper, it resembled a giant bottle. Who would ever have guessed that was books?!
My little half siblings used to wrap rocks and cans and put them under the tree. Usually the job would be too crudely done to fool anyone.
tangent but apropo - there I was on my tenth birthday asking my parents if I could open my school bag yet. Criminy, I had peeked and misspoke. It was quite the briefcase, which in retrospect makes me about tear re their hopes for me. But at the time, a clunker for a ten year old. Wish I still had it.