By George Erhart
In 1938 our nation was still struggling to come out of the Great Depression. My dad had just landed a full-time job, the family was together again, and we moved into a large wooden house. I was five years old.
It seemed a bit odd to me that, two weeks before Christmas, the living room was closed off. My sister and I, being the youngest, were told that the reason it was locked was because it was too costly to heat that big room. What we didn’t know was that Dad had sneaked a gorgeous silver-tip Christmas tree into that room and that our parents and older sister and brother were secretly decorating it.
Our family tradition was to open presents on Christmas Eve. So around 7 o’clock on December 24th, 1938, my mother said, “All you kids need to go upstairs and wait for Santa to come.”
Encouraged by our older siblings, my sister and I rushed upstairs where we quietly waited for the arrival of Santa Claus. Anticipation and excitement increased by the minute. This was further heightened by comments from my older brother, who kept saying things like ”Santa should be here any minute“ and “I hope he doesn’t forget to stop here,” or asking us questions like ”you have been good all year, haven’t you?”
Finally, we heard something on the roof above us. “What was that?” I asked. “Quiet,“ my sister says, “let’s listen.” Then we heard even more rattling. (My Dad was outside throwing rocks up on the roof!) My brother said, “It’s Santa! We’re hearing the reindeer landing on the roof.”
Then there is silence for a minute or two until we heard a loud “clump-clump” as Santa climbed the front steps. Next there was very hard knock at the front door. We heard my mother open it and say, “Oh hello, Santa, and Merry Christmas.” Then in a very deep voice my father, I mean Santa, responded, “Merry Christmas, and do you have some children here who have been good all year?” “Oh, yes,” my mother replied, “Please come in.” The door closed and then there was more silence!
Waiting upstairs, the suspense was building, and we could hardly contain our excitement! Finally, we heard the door open and, as Santa left, we heard his deep voice say, “Ho, ho, ho, and a Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!”
More waiting. What was going on! Then we heard the reindeer on the roof (Dad was out throwing more rocks!). And then, more waiting (giving Dad time to quietly reenter the house).
Finally, my mother called from downstairs, “You kids can come down now.” As we started down, the youngest one went first.... that was me!
I can still recall the awe I experienced as I entered the living room, seeing the beautiful Christmas tree all lit up surrounded with neatly wrapped presents left by Santa. Certainly, a Christmas I could never forget!
How could a five-year-old not believe in Santa Claus after hearing his reindeer on the roof, hearing him talking to Mother, and then seeing all the gifts he left?
Yes, I still believe in Santa Claus, even if’s only in the minds of the very young!
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