Momma is there really a Santa Claus? Sadly that was the question I last remember asking my mother when I was only 8 years old. After her answer and the events that happened later that month I never ask again.
My family was probably the average family in 1958. Stay at home Mother, father in the Navy and traveling away for 6 – 8 months at a time aboard his ship just your average American family. I clearly remember those letters from my father on the stationary. Well perhaps my memory of them is just clear now because I recently went through all his letters to my mother during that time. I just don’t know for sure now that I bring it to mind. However, I do remember this Christmas as if it were yesterday.
My brother is one year older than I and he was definitely the favorite of my mothers. She kept him close till he was 28 years old. No I am not jealous of him, well maybe a little. Not jealous because she loved him more but because he was the one who they made to feel important and special. Not me no I was the baby of the family and I was left to the cold wind that blew that Christmas Eve.
It snowed in Bend during our visit for Christmas that year in 1958. We made a snowman in the front yard of our grandmother’s house. I thought he was my prince charming and he would come to life at midnight and take me away from this horrible place. Silly childish dreams I am sure now that I am a grown woman.
My grandmother tried very hard to make us children believe that Santa Claus would find us even though we were thousands of miles from our home. My mother however when ask about Santa Claus and his abilities to find us children merely stated, “Don’t you think you are old enough now to face the facts Carole?” Simply put I was confused and looked at her with a quizzical face. She was frustrated I could tell but I pressed the issue, I pressed hard for the information. Mother became more and more angry with me and struck out with, “Damn it Carole there is no such person as Santa Claus! Do you think that if he were real I would be in this position?” Of course my thought was what? What position did she mean? My mind was swirling around and around.
I went to my brother and being a year old I was positive he was smarter than I and would understand. I ask him, Bob, what is momma saying that she doesn’t believe in Santa Claus?” My brother smiled that rueful smile and merely said, “Grow up little sister.”
I was put to bed that evening in a flurry of anger and no supper on top of it. I did not sleep well at all that Christmas Eve. I thought of all those things that little kids think of, well at least what I think little kids must have thought of in that time. “Why did daddy leave me alone with my mommy if she didn’t like me?” I pictured Santa Claus coming down the chimney and putting the gifts I had so wished for under the tree.
Morning came with a blast of cold air, which I found later, came from the window my brother had thrown open. He smiled and said, “Come on Carole it is Christmas morning.” I jumped from bed just knowing that I would be surprised to see the tree this morning.
Running down the stairs we had to cross through the kitchen before we could see the tree. My mother was standing by the stove with the mittens on her hands. She had just put the turkey in the oven. She turned to me with a smile on her face, “Sit at the table there, you cannot see the tree till Bobby comes down he must see it first.” My heart was heavy, as I knew he would have his wish come true and I would once again not have mine.
Bobby came down the stairway after what felt to me like hours but was surely just moments. We both entered the living room and there under the tree was my hearts desire. He wiggled, he yipped, and he licked my face. I felt like I must be the happiest child in the world. Santa Claus had come; he had given me what I desired more than anything in the world, my own puppy to love only me.
My grandmother and grandfather came into the room and smiled, “We thought that you would love this little guy Carole you said so many times how much you needed a friend.” I was for once the happiest kid alive. That was until I found out that Squeaky was to be left behind in a week with my grand parents. I knew however that he would be there upon my return the next time around. I did learn however, that Santa Claus could be many people not just the man in the red suit with a belly like a bowl full of jelly. He is someone who loves you when you are all grown up. Someone who gives you what your heart desires more than anything in the world. He is that special someone that we should all hold onto till the last minute in our childhood memories.
I am sorry that my mother never understood me, or tried to understand my desire for a four-legged friend. I later found out that she was in misery herself for events with our family and financial hardships. However, as an adult and with my own children I vowed never to let that affect how I treated my children or let them see that misery when it was in my life. I think now that they are grown with children of their own that I accomplished that. My children believe to this day in the mystery of Santa Claus.