I was four or five-years-old, and determined this would be the year. That jolly old man wasn’t going to get past me; not this year!
I had a perfect view of our Christmas tree as I perched on the 4th step down from the top. In fact, I could peek through the balusters without being spotted from the living room below. Even better was my unobstructed view of the fireplace! Still, I was a bit concerned because a few hot embers still glowed from behind the screen. Should I take the chance and get some water to put them out, or just hope Santa’s boots were heavy enough to withstand a few hot coals?
I surveyed the plate of cookies I’d carefully chosen for his snack, and decided to stay put.
I yawned and stretched; opening my eyes wide in order to keep them that way. No nodding off now! Not when the reward was within reach.
I peeked, again, then cocked my head. Was that a scratching noise on the roof? Hooves, maybe? The bare branches of the walnut trees out front swayed in the cold December wind. Probably just branches scraping against the eves, I determined.
I continued the watch. The clock struck midnight. Surely Santa, his sleigh and the rest of the gang; Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen…what are the others? I wracked my brain to remember the order Dad always used when he recited The Night Before Christmas. C’mon, Mary! I just heard it a few hours ago when he read it after putting me to bed. Ha! So he thought. Let’s see…Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and…Blitzen! Oh, yeah, and Rudolph. Who could forget him?
I squirmed around on the step. It sure was getting uncomfortable and cold! Maybe I’ll slip back into my room and get a blanket. I tiptoed to the top landing then into my room. A small pink and white quilt, hand made by my grandmother, was folded at the bottom of the bed. I put my hand on it and noticed how cold IT was! That’s not going to help. Maybe if I just snuggled down in the covers, I could listen for Santa from there. After all, I was so close to the roof, I could probably hear a tiny squirrel scurrying around, let alone a fat man riding in a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer!
I’ll just close my eyes for a second but keep my ears wide open.
Next thing I heard was the clock striking two. I sat up in bed. How long had I been asleep? Five minutes? Ten at the most?
I threw back the covers, snuck back down to the lookout post and peeked into the living room.
There, under the tree, were a dozen or more brightly-wrapped packages. All that remained on the cookie plate were a few crumbs.
I sighed. How could I have missed him? I thought about checking out the presents; maybe shaking a few in an attempt to reveal their contents, but a shiver and a couple of cold feet sent me back to the warmth of my bed, disappointed but cheered by the fact that my brother and I must’ve been pretty good this year. There was quite a haul under that tree!
I closed my eyes and imagined the hot chocolate and cinnamon toast that would await me in the morning. Oh, yes. Mom insisted we had a little breakfast before we opened presents. It was always worth the wait.