When a little girl my parents enjoyed round robins during the holidays. They dressed up in their best clothes and partied at each others' houses, including ours. The celebration from house-to-house lasted until the wee hours.
When they came to our house, my brothers and I were already snug in our beds asleep. Their laughter often woke me up. I’d slip out of bed and hide behind the half wall at the top of the stairs. I tried to discern the topic of conversations, catch any gossip that floated about. Music from the 45’s played in the background. Glasses clinked. Toasts and laughter abounded, my mom’s the most engaging. Everyone laughed when she did.
Once, as I crept from my room to the stairs, my dad hollered, ‘Kathy, go back to bed.’ I frowned. How did he hear me? I had been so quiet, so careful.
Once, after everyone left our house, I sneaked downstairs and ate some of the food, looked at the full ashtrays and half full glasses. Bored and too tired to remain, I went back to bed.
Hours later and all excited, my mom woke us. “Get up, it’s Santa Claus.”
I had been in a solid sleep. My brothers dashed downstairs but being the eldest and the wisest, I took my time. When I walked into the living room, a thinner Santa than expected sat in a chair with his back to the window, the curtains open.
He beckoned to us. “Come here, children,” he slowly said, his body swaying.
|Not the Santa I saw|
We went to him. He seemed younger than what I had envisioned Santa to be. Black hair peeped from beneath the white wig. He wobbled while on the chair. His eyes half closed, drool gathered in his beard. Even as young as I was, I knew the guy was filled to the gills with drink. All those houses he went to and dropped off gifts must have had glasses of brandy or whatever next to the milk and cookies. Santa seemed to have preferred the brandy.
My view of Santa sank and I looked over his shoulder, out the window. It had snowed heavily, which came as a surprise. The street, sidewalks and our yards blanketed white, a full moon brightened winter’s night. The clouds had scudded away and the sky was almost blue, the world brilliant.
The beauty of it took my breath away.
Santa’s words slurred. “Be good, little children. Honor your father and mother.”
Santa faded away as I marveled at the stunning beauty, the sparkling snow under a bright full moon. A thought drifted. Am I dreaming?
Many thanks to Wikicommons, Public domain.