The wooden stairs let out a creak. Four pajama-clad children froze in place. It was still dark out, but it was Christmas morning and we wondered if Santa had come yet.
Father had warned us that if children happened upon Santa as he was making his delivery, the jolly old man would pack every last gift back into his sack and take them right back up the chimney.
Never mind the fact that we didn’t have a fireplace with a chimney. We did have a wood burning stove with a chimney and we figured that if Santa was clever enough to get down it with the presents, he could get back up it with them, too.
Bobby gave me a little shove, “Hurry up.”
|Photo courtesy dyet, rgbstock.com|
We all held our breath. When no further noise was heard, I led the way once again down the stairs.
We reached the landing and peeked around the corner. The room was dark except for the Christmas tree at the far end of the room. Its large multi-colored lights glowed softly behind the angel hair Mother had so carefully swirled around each bulb. Cherished glass ornaments with glitter and intricately cut designs hung sparkling from each branch.
Our eyes were instantly fixed on the pile of gifts at the base of the tree. Santa had come!
I dropped to my hands and knees, all three little brothers following my lead, as we crawled toward the tree, being ever so careful not to wake our parents. Once we reached it, we lay down on tummies, spread out before the gifts like a peacock’s tail. We dared not touch the gifts, but fantasized about what the colorful paper packages might hold.
Then in the stillness we heard it…
“HO-HO-HO,” roared a voice behind us!
We were goners – knowing that every gift was about to be repossessed by the big man, himself. Terror welled up in four little hearts until we heard our Father’s deep laughter coming from the sofa.
Our parents had been sitting there in the darkness the whole time and had witnessed our excruciating decent down the stairs and crawl across the floor.
The four of us tumbled onto their laps laughing and begging to open our presents.
“In just a minute,” said Father, “I need a glass of water.”
He went to the kitchen, drew a glass of water from the tap and took a long drink. Suddenly he pointed out the window above the sink and called, “Come quick, there goes Santa!”
Four pairs of feet ran across the wooden floor to see, but before we could reach the window, Father shook his head and said, “Aw, you just missed him. He dropped behind the trees was gone in a flash.”
We drew deep breaths. Our Father had actually seen Santa and we had just missed having our gifts repossessed. Had we come down the steps five minutes earlier, we surely would have interrupted his delivery and suffered the dire consequences!
Next year we promised ourselves, would sleep in.
(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)