During most of those years our dad had a seven-day-a-week milk route. He picked up milk from farms and delivered it to the dairy to be pasteurized and bottled for home delivery.
He left the house early each morning and was home around 2:30 p.m. My sister, Kathy, and I didn’t see the adult logic in waiting until midafternoon to see what Santa brought us, so we always had an early morning Christmas.
We gathered around the tree in our pajamas to open presents and share our excitement about the wonderful gifts that Santa had left. After we unwrapped the gifts, Dad grabbed a quick breakfast and was on the road to collect milk.
I remember always receiving some gifts that we could enjoy quietly for a few hours on Christmas morning. I’m sure I fell back asleep a few times when playing with some toy cars or reading a book while lying on the floor near the tree.
When my age reached double digits I started hearing rumors from friends and classmates to the effect that there was no Santa Claus. It took me a long time to buy into such a shocking idea. I’m sure that I quizzed my parents as to the possibility that Santa was a myth.
I started making a quick search of cabinets and closets to see if I could discover something that later would be a gift from Santa. The next year I found a beautiful sled hidden in our basement. We had a small hill on the side of our house, and I was sure I was going to have a blast.
That night before Christmas was beautiful because it had snowed quite a bit. We had made our annual Christmas visit to our mom’s parents’ house for Christmas Eve. I was so excited during our ride home from their house and had trouble falling to sleep that night. I kept thinking about my new sled and the fun I was going to have.
The next thing I remember was being awakened to join everyone to open presents. I leaped out of bed and dashed into the living room to search for my sled. I remember scampering past a beautiful bicycle and paying no attention to it. My mind was screaming, “SLED! SLED!”
“Where is my sled?” I shouted, but no one had any knowledge of a sled.
I was asked to get a grip and was guided back to the bicycle that Santa had brought me. I could get a paper route, and my bicycle would be a big help.
That was a special Christmas.
A few years later my dad told me a story. He and Mom had noticed me searching through the house, basement, garage and storage building. They figured I might be looking for hidden Christmas presents. He told me that one of his milk route customers had a son about my age. The sled I saw was for him; my bike has been stored at their house.
I remember having to put some of those same plans into effect when my son, Mark, believed in Santa.
My wife, Lynn, and Stuart, our therapy dog, and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and always share your great memories.