Several years ago now I decided to write about one of my favorite Christmas memories that also happens to be a favorite birthday memory. I thought it would share it again this evening.
The real Santa once came to my birthday party. About 7 PM he rang the doorbell. I couldn’t imagine who it could be. Lee and Elizabeth, Emily and Abby, Danielle and Jennifer, Lois, Lori, Mark, and even my little sister were all there. In fact, we’d been running around fueled up on pop, pizza, and German chocolate cake, not to mention candy, for the last half hour at least. As the birthday girl, I wanted to answer the door personally. I slowly opened the front door only to see Santa in all of red and white glory, big black belt and all. I couldn’t believe it! Somehow I must have been a very good girl to receive a personal visit from Santa on my birthday, his busiest time of year, the week before Christmas.
As he settled down to hold court in our formal living room, I looked out the window into our back yard. Dozens of beautiful whitetail deer! Deer in my big back yard were not an uncommon sight. My Dad left the deer a big pile of sugar beets just outside the kitchen window. We often found little impressions of their nose prints on the French doors in the living room. But something was different that night. I had never seen so many deer in my back yard! They were beautiful playing in the mid-December starlight, their breath hanging in the air. Magic.
Where were the reindeer? And Rudolph? They had to be there. Why else would all the whitetails come out to play? It didn’t matter. I didn’t need any more convincing. The real Santa somehow knew exactly where Lindsey Jenelle Russell, newly age 7, lived. At the moment he had her little sister Erica, almost 4, seated on his lap in their very living room. It was time to get down to business.
It was finally my turn to sit on Santa’s lap. As Mom and Dad looked on, I whispered in Santa’s ear what I wanted most that Christmas. I couldn’t help myself. That year I wanted another Cabbage Patch Kid doll. I couldn’t get enough of them. They were cute, they were the perfect size for a dolly, and they even came with their own adoption papers, not to mention great names like Marlena, Isabella, and Crispin. How could I resist?
After whispering my Christmas wish to Santa I gave him a big hug, a simple way to thank him for coming to my birthday party. I’m not sure if I remembered my manners and actually said “thank you.” I hope Santa considered a hug good manners. How do you say thank you when someone makes your birthday party so special you remember it decades later? No, “thank you” wasn’t enough.
That Christmas I did get a Cabbage Patch doll. Maybe Santa is real after all. Before Santa held court at my birthday party, I’d had my doubts. Of course, I couldn’t let Erica know. She was still a Little Kid. The same Little Kid, of course, who spotted the Tooth Fairy right outside our bedroom window. My Mom, Dad, and I, much to our amusement, spent a leisurely weekend breakfast listening to Erica describe in detail her beautiful dress, crown, and wand. I was happy to know that my little sister could dream too. Big Kids knew that you could never ever catch a glimpse of the Tooth Fairy. Ever.
Years later I learned Santa’s true identity. He goes by the name Edwards, and believe it or not, his actual birthday is Christmas day. He still “plays” Santa from time to time. As an adult I’ve come to suspect that Mr. Edwards is one of those rare people who truly get the real meaning of Christmas. He knows it isn’t about toys, gadgets, and money. It can’t be purchased at the mall. It is simply creating wonderful memories for children of all ages and spending time with family and friends. Knowing the truth makes my memories that much sweeter.