I was seven years old and at the age when, way back then in simpler and slower times, most children just begin to seriously contemplate the logistics of Santa Claus’ annual visit. I had asked a million questions that Christmas season, but no explanation made sense.
I announced at the dinner table that Christmas Eve that I would be staying awake all night. I intended to prove once and for all that there was no Santa. After all, I was too grown up for this nonsense. With whom did they think they were dealing - a 5-year-old?
My parents agreed to the plan, but insisted that I still go to bed on time, explaining, for yet another year, that Santa only visited sleeping children and thinking, of course, that I wouldn’t last too long anyway once my head hit the pillow.
I reluctantly participated in their charade but I was confident that I would prove how silly this whole concept was. I knew there would be no signs of Santa that night.
I lay in my bed with the drapes open, staring out my window. I watched. I listened. And I waited. And waited. I refused to give in. I would not fall asleep! I was sure hours had gone by.
All of a sudden, I saw a tiny red light moving slowly across the sky. I jumped out of the bed and ran to the window for a closer look. Then I heard the bells. I saw the red light travel to the top of our neighbor’s roof and stop. The jingling stopped too. It was dark and I couldn’t see much, but there was no mistaking that light.
After a bit, the light took off again for the sky and the sound of jingling bells got louder. I couldn’t tell where Rudolph was going next, but I was positive that he was headed for my roof. I ran back under the covers and pretended to be fast asleep. I sure did hope that Santa didn’t see me watching him from my window!
Needless to say, I was a firm believer in Santa Claus for two more years.
My father told me when I was a teenager that he and his best friend who lived next door had done all this from his friend’s deck. We were positioned on a corner lot and the back of our house faced the side of theirs. I had a perfect view of their roof and deck from my room. They had actually lain down on the deck so I couldn’t see them and shone a flashlight with red bulbs across the sky and onto the roof. My mother always insisted on a ridiculous amount of Christmas decorations, so they had no problem finding loud bells to jingle.
Today, I am the same age that my father was in 1970. As a parent, I can appreciate the desire to preserve our children’s innocence. And, as a middle-aged adult, I understand the power of Crown Royal on a winter night and the intense need for something fun, silly, and different to do.