Yesterday's Magazette

5 – The Night I Saw Santa

By Sheron Donahue

Mom clattered dishes in the kitchen sink. Dad stood drying them. It was December, 1941, in Illinois, when I was nearly three. I believe I sat on the living room floor setting up a doll’s tea party. Suddenly, I heard a faint jingling of bells outside.

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I jumped up, dashed to the front window, and pulled back the curtains. A partial moon illuminated the blackness, and white flakes drifted down to the snow-covered, frozen ground.

Standing on tip toes, I pressed my freckled pug nose against the frosted glass. I could barely see above the window sill, so I dragged Dad’s footstool over and stood on it. I blew a warm breath on the glass and rubbed it with my sleeve to see. I was sure I heard bells in the distance.

I peered off into the shivery night, and then to my wondering eyes there appeared a huge red sleigh. I don’t recall it being pulled by reindeer; my eyes fixed on the sleigh. I distinctly heard, “Ho, ho, ho.” As the sleigh grew closer, a plump, jolly man with a fluffy white beard, and wearing a bright red coat sat with what looked like a green and red plaid blanket stretched across his lap and small boxing gloves on his hands; though now, it seems, he must have worn black leathery mittens.

When he waved, I shouted, “Mom, Dad,” all the while bouncing on the soft cushion. “Look, look, it’s Santa Claus.” I pointed, and then flapped my arm back at him.

Before they could reach me, the sleigh was disappearing into the night. And I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight, “Merry Christmas to all and have a good night.” Mom wiped her hands on her faded floral apron, which kept her workday dress free of spills.

She strained out the window, and then told me that I had wonderful luck, that “few children ever get to see him in person.” A fluffy cloud must have surrounded me that night as I drifted off to sleep with visions of toys dancing through my head.

The next day I still bubbled with excitement, so I gulped down oatmeal, bundled up, and ran to tell the neighbor kids about my extraordinary sighting. Of course, they didn’t believe me, even laughed at my story. I crossed my arms over my chest and stood my ground when they argued that it never happened.

“Did so,” I said.

“Did not,” retorted the others. On and on we bickered until the days turned into weeks. After Christmas they seemed to forget about the feud. That was fine with me, because I did see him in his sleigh and didn’t care if the disbelievers argued for centuries. I saw what I saw.

Although I stared out the window on December evenings for many years to come, Santa and his sleigh never jangled down my street again. What I don’t know, was it a fluke or did my parents somehow instigate this event? I remember asking them this very question years later. Mom simply said, “That’s for us to know, and you to find out.” Her favorite saying when she didn’t want to divulge a secret.

So, my folks took the answer with them when they met their Maker. Still, I wouldn’t put it past them to somehow have been involved in what was the most amazing moment in this child’s life–the night I saw Santa.

Vol. 37 No. 4 – Yesterday’s Magazette – Winter- 2010/11

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