I am sitting here and it’s Christmas Eve remembering the wonderful Christmases I had when I was growing up. Christmas always centered around the Christ child. There was church and nativities and carols sung and candles glowing. Packages under the tree. Trips to the department store to see Santa. How I wish I could relive those years again. They were the best of times. I heard that some people don’t even think of Christmas as a Christian holiday anymore. I don’t know what they think it is or what the word Christmas means to them, but for me, it always is about Jesus. Years ago I wrote a story about Christmas and I will share it with you now. It’s as true as I can remember it. Most of it really happened and some may or may not, but that is for you to decide.
Sleds and Santa Claus
A heavy blanket of snow covered Daddy’s Indiana farm. Katie looked out the kitchen door and saw drifts of snow on the sidewalk and back porch. Daddy came in the back door stamping his feet and carrying an armload of wood to put in the big black iron stove that sat in the kitchen. As Katie ate her breakfast of hot sweet tea and cinnamon toast, she felt warm and cozy. Daddy sat at the head of the table and Mommy sat next to him. They were discussing what needed to be done that day on the farm
Katie’s brother’s came down from the cold bedrooms upstairs. The window in Katie’s room had had frost on the inside of it that morning and she had not wanted to leave her warm nest in her bed.
“Hey! Let’s go sledding this afternoon,” cried Andy. That sounded like a great idea to all the children, but first all the chores had to be done before play. On a farm the livestock comes first and all the animals must be fed and watered before anything else. The eggs must be gathered before they froze in their nests. That was Katie’s job. Soon they were all bundled up to go outdoors to do their chores.
The cold wind whipped Katie’s face as she walked to the chicken house. Inside it was warm and the chickens began to cluck. Sometimes Katie would have to reach underneath a setting hen to take her eggs. The hen would not like this, but it had to be done. Eggs were never left to be hatched in the henhouse. Mommy used many of them in her baking each week ad the ones she didn’t use were carefully washed and crated and taken to the grocery store to be sold to the grocer for him to sell. Mommy’s chicken eggs were especially good. They were fresh and the yolks were almost orange. That was because the chickens were allowed to scratch and peck outdoors and to eat a lot of different things like juicy bugs and worms besides the ground corn Daddy fed them. The grocer was always glad to get them.
After a good hot midday meal, Katie and her brothers dressed in several layers of clothes and snow boots and went out to Daddy’s workshop where the sleds were kept. They walked down the road to a hill owned by a neighbor, Mr. Bond. They climbed over the fence and trudged through the deep snow to the top of the hill. The first few times sledding down was not very good because the paths had to be made through the snow. After a few rides down the hill, it became slicker and slicker until you were absolutely flying! At the bottom of the hill was a little grove of tree that you had to steer your sled through. It was dangerous, but fun at the same time. Sometimes the neighbor boys, the Clevengers, would join in the fun. The boys would throw snowballs at one another as they slid down the hill.
All too soon for Katie it was time to go back home. She was chilled to the bone but hadn’t noticed while she was sledding. Back in the warm house Mommy made hot chocolate and Daddy made popcorn balls. After all the exercise, it all tasted so good!
Sometime in the winter, Daddy and Mommy would begin whispering to one another and hiding things from the children. It was Christmas time, one of the best times of the year for a child. Soon after Thanksgiving, the tree would be put up and decorated and Mommy would put up the red plastic wreaths with the red candles in the windows. A plastic Santa riding a white reindeer and that lit up was one of Katie’s favorite Christmas decorations. The nativity that Daddy had built was put in a place of honor where Katie would look at it every day. It had a blue lightbulb that gave the holy family a heavenly glow.
Soon it was Christmas Eve and the children were all excited about Santa’s coming visit. The boys wanted Davy Crockett coonskin hats and Katie wanted a doll. Her older sister, Joanne, wanted new clothes. Katie wanted to stay up and see if Santa really was the one who brought the toys each Christmas. She begged Mommy to allow her to stay up if her sister stayed up with her “You may stay up, but you will be asleep before Santa gets here,” Mommy told her.
That night Katie and Joanne each picked a chair to sleep in. With pillows and blankets, they settled in and prepared to stay up and see old St. Nick bring their presents. Everyone else went to bed and the house settled down into a deep, dark quiet. Not a thing was stirring. Katie was so excited. She waited and waited until her eyelids became heavier and heavier. All at once there was a soft glow in the room. Katie rubbed her eyes because she could not believe what she was seeing. Right in front of her, so close she could have touched him was a short, round little man in a beautiful red woolen suit with the whitest fur trim. He was bent over putting something under the tree. It was Santa! Katie was afraid that she might get in trouble for being there, but suddenly, the little man turned and looked right at her with his kind eyes and said, “Go back to sleep, honey.” The next thing Katie knew she was waking up in her own bed. It was Christmas morning!
The children all had to wait until Mommy and Daddy said it was okay to come down the stairs. When they did there was a mad dash to get to the Christmas tree and see what Santa had brought them. Katie doesn’t remember what she got that year, but she does remember it was the year she saw the real Santa Claus.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night. Bye.