Exlusive Santa Sighting

Like Superman and Clark Kent, my father and Santa Claus were never seen on Christmas Eve at the same time.

Every year the drill was the same. At our annual Christmas Eve family gathering, my dad would announce to all that he ran out of film and needed to go the store.

About 20 minutes later there was a rumbling on the roof and my uncle would loudly declare “Santa’s reindeer is up there.”

Then my mother would herd all the kids to peer out the window to see Santa’s sleigh. A minute or two later, the sound of jingling bells, along with a hearty “HoHoHo,” enveloped the room and the kids excitedly scurried to the man in the red suit.

Everyone sat on his lap as he asked what each wanted for Christmas and offered a candy cane as a deposit, promising he would be back later the same night with their wish.
Then he told us to look out the window and watch for Santa’s reindeer again as he mysteriously slipped out of the room.

Twenty or so minutes later, my dad would come back and my uncle will tell him he just missed Santa. He would loudly exclaim his disappointment, and everyone resumed the festivities.

The clever ruse was complete. It was masterful, but there were clues left behind. After running out of film one year, wouldn’t he be prepared the next? And if he was going out for film, why did he never have a bag or the film when he returned?

We were grateful for the candy cane and the exclusive opportunity to ensure our wish list was fulfilled. But one year as I ventured into middle grades, I wondered why Santa was visiting individual holiday parties prior to his big delivery event and posed that and the other questions to my uncomfortable mother.

So, when Christmas Eve came around again, suddenly it was my uncle who ran out of film, and all the roles were reversed. My doubts were quashed.

But one day, when I was talking to a friend about this on the oracle of all information, the school bus, an eavesdropping Mike C. insisted Santa does not come to individual people’s houses.

“That’s ridiculous. How can Santa come to your house on Christmas Eve when he has to go to all other houses?”

He was right. Shortly after reporting this information to my mother, she confessed, while asking me not to tell the little kids.

The next Christmas I was in on the secret. I smirked satisfied at my grown-up deception, playing a leading part in the charade by participating in the distraction to conceal Santa’s entrance and exit. I watched the hoax unfold, amazed at the obvious clues I previously missed.

But there was still one secret that no one knew the answer to. How was there a rumbling on the roof when everyone was inside the house?

(c) Suzanne Rudd Hamilton 2022

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