Friday, December 08, 2006

I believe in Santa, do you??

Adventure With Grandma (Just forwarding a good story--not my story!)

I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma. I was just a
kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my
big sister dropped the bomb: "There is no Santa Claus," she jeered.
"Even dummies know that!"

My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that
day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always
told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot
easier when swallowed with one of her world-famous cinnamon buns. I
knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so. It had to be true.

Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told
her everything. "No Santa Claus!" she snorted.
"Ridiculous!
Don't believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it
makes me mad, plain mad. Now, put on your coat, and let's go."

"Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked. I hadn't even finished my second
world-famous, cinnamon bun. "Where" turned out to be Kerby's General
Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about
everything. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten
dollars. That was a bundle in those days. "Take this money," she said,
"and buy something for someone who needs it.
I'll wait for you in the car." Then she turned and walked out of
Kerby's.

I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my mother,
but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big
and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas
shopping. For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching
that ten- dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy
it for.

I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors,
the kids at school, the people who went to my church. I was just about
thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid
with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs.
Pollock's grade-two class. Bobby Decker didn't have a coat. I knew
that because he never went out for recess during the winter. His mother
always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all
we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn't have a cough, and he didn't have
a coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I
would buy Bobby Decker a coat!

I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real
warm, and he would like that. "Is this a Christmas present for
someone?" the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten
dollars down. "Yes," I replied shyly. "It's .... for Bobby." The nice
lady smiled at me. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a
bag and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat in Christmas paper and
ribbons (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in
her Bible) and wrote, "To Bobby, From Santa Claus" on it -- Grandma
said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to
Bobby Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever
officially one of Santa's helpers.

Grandma parked down the street from Bobby's house, and she and I crept
noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave
me a nudge. "All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going."

I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present
down on his step, pounded his doorbell and flew back to the safety of the
bushes and Grandma. Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness
for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.

Fifty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent
shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker's bushes. That night, I realized
that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said
they were: ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.

I still have the Bible, with the tag tucked inside: $19.95.

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