Christmas at our house was always celebrated on Christmas Eve. Each year my parents would come up with a plan to distract me and my brother while one parent placed all the gifts under the tree from Santa. For several years I had no clue. I happily believed that Santa was magical and could come and go without being spotted.
As I grew a little older and a little wiser, I began to think about it. Why did we never see Santa or even a trace of him? How is that even possible? I remember one year in particular. I was probably six years old and I was determined that Santa was not going to pay us a visit without being seen.
Our tree was placed on an enclosed front porch. On Christmas Eve that year, I planted myself at the kitchen table which had a clear view of the tree on the porch and decided I was not moving until Santa arrived. I was definitely going to see him. I sat and sat. Mom and Dad and my brother kept begging me to come into the living room and watch TV with them. Nothing they could say would convince me to move.
Finally, in desperation, my mother called to me, “Ruth. Come upstairs with me. We forgot to make your bed this morning. It needs to be done.” “But mom, I am waiting for Santa,” I responded as if they didn’t know this. “It will only take a couple of minutes and then you can come right back down and continue waiting,” was her answer. I whined and she finally said, “Well maybe Santa won’t come at all if he knows you are not listening to your Mother.”
I thought about this for a minute then dutifully followed my Mom upstairs to make the bed. I was in quite a hurry to get it done, but Mom kept finding things to drag it out a little bit longer. Finally we were finished and I dashed downstairs to find my chair in the kitchen.
My brother shouted, “Hey Santa was just here! Look at the presents!” I think he was in on the whole thing. He gave me this song and dance story about how he and Dad were just watching TV and never heard a thing.
My six year old self was quickly distracted by the gifts under the tree and we all spent the rest of the evening opening gifts and enjoying our new toys. But I still remember the disappointment of missing Santa again.