My sister and I love the holidays and when we were little our family did it up big. We had multiple trees ( the huge one in the family room and the smaller one in the living room) and tons of decorations all over the house. This was probably the only time of the year we actually got along and loved sharing a room.
Me and Jude
We would try to get up and see what Santa brought us starting probably around 4am. My poor parents never got any sleep because they spent all the time yelling at us to “go back to bed.” I think they’d finally give up around 5:30 or 6 and just let us go.
Let me back up a bit, we had a fairly small house. It was only 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom and, of course, our bedroom was right next door to Mom and Dad’s room. The living room was kind of diagonal from our room and that’s where the little tree was. The main tree, and where Santa left us gifts, was out in the family room and you had to go through the kitchen to get there.
Okay now you know that, I can tell you about the Christmas I was 9 and my sister was 6. I remember it like it was yesterday and so does Jude. Whether you have us together or apart we will tell you the same story.
At this point we had bunkbeds. I had the top bunk and obviously she had the bottom. OMG, we were so excited Christmas Eve, like always. I’m not sure which one of us decided it was Go Time, but we decided it was time to make our first foray out to the tree to see if Santa had visited us. Now it was dark, so I imagine it wasn’t even 4am yet, but we had a window in our room that let in quite a bit of light from the street lights. We put our house slippers on and eased to the door.
We knew we had to be quiet, like ninjas, so our parents wouldn’t hear us. So we slowly, so slowly turned the door knob and eased the door open. I remember peeking out the door, Jude below me doing the same, so our eyes could adjust to the dark. And that’s when we saw it . . . or should I say HIM!
He was in shadow, since it was dark, leaning over another large dark object, like he was putting something down. And it was HIM, Santa, right there. Even in the darkness, I could see his hat and coat, and how he was “chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf.” But believe me, we didn’t laugh at the sight of him. Oh hell no, my sister and I almost wet ourselves we were so scared.
We probably looked like this
or maybe more like this
Whatever we looked like, I remember easing the door closed and we raced to Jude’s small bed. That’s where we both climbed in, slippers and all, pulled the covers up over and our heads and lay there. Scared to death. I don’t even remember the thoughts rolling through my head, I just know I was scared. I mean you have this whole idea of Santa Claus, you know he some how gets into your house and leaves you gifts, you find the gifts in the morning. But you don’t see him. Ever. But we had.
We stayed in bed that morning until it was light. I bet it had to be 7am or later. I know neither my sister or I wanted to go out there until it was light and we were sure he had gone.
When we told the story later, Mom thought we’d been imagining things. As we got older and told the story, she finally realized we were serious. I remember her saying, “You actually think you saw Santa?” And we answered, “No, we KNOW we saw him.” Mom’s reply, “I have no idea what you saw.”
Other people have suggested that perhaps our dad dressed up and I laugh at this. I loved my dad, but he there was no way he was going to buy a full Santa suit, dress all the way up, make himself look fat and jolly, just in case we happened to get up and saw him putting gifts out. That wasn’t him.
The gift Santa was leaning over was an organ left for us in the living room. Another odd thing since no gifts were ever left in Mom’s good living room. That was a room to be admired from afar, but never entered. That’s where the “good furniture” was and where children weren’t allowed. We also never got gifts in there again.
So there you have it, my favorite holiday memory. You can say all you want that Santa doesn’t exist, but I will tell you I saw him and so did Jude. We stand by our story 100%.
If you’ve ever had a close encounter of the Santa kind leave your story in the comments below. I’d love to hear about them!!
Happy Holidays — Gwen