Santa has always been kind to my family. And I don’t mean the “Santas” at the mall, or the business world Santa… I mean the real Santa. Yeah… Yeah… I hear you, but wait.
When I was first married, we were really poor. Oh we ate ok and had a roof over our head, but not much more. We were stationed in Germany. When Christmas came around we had just enough to by a Cuckoo Clock for her family and mine. Then we were broke. We decided we couldn’t get anything for each other. The enlisted club where I was stationed had slot machines.
It was only a few days till the next payday and we had groceries in the cupboard so we took our last few bucks… I mean very few bucks… three or four bucks to entertain ourselves at the slot machines. Quite quickly I hit a jackpot. I didn’t tell Emily. It wasn’t a huge jackpot but enough so that I could buy her a surprise present. After that I was ready to go. But I figured Emily would want to play for a bit longer. But no… she was ready to go home too.
Certainly you’ve figured out that she hit a jackpot too and didn’t tell me. There were two “mysterious” presents under the tree from “Santa” on Christmas morning. So was it just luck… or was it Santa. Stop!!! Don’t answer that question yet.
A few years later, after we had a basketball team worth of kids, I always wanted my Christmas tree and living room to look like a toy store on Christmas morning. About the time my oldest daughter started having doubts about Santa we were stationed in England… way before internet and on-line ordering. So she asked for an impossible present less then a week before Christmas… a pair of stilts. And she stuck to it. A pogo stick nor anything else would do. We traveled to London, Oxford, and all over the country side. There were no stilts in all of England. Well… I won’t give you the details, but on Christmas morning, there was a pair of titanium, magnesium, and chromemolly stilts under the Christmas tree. Hummmm… Santa? Don’t decide just yet.
Through the years the same sort of thing happened from time to time and kid to kid. There was the Cabbage Patch doll crisis… we won one at a raffle. There was an unobtainable electronic guizmo that we got when we found it by some miracle. And so it went. I was a pretty good provider (if I do say so myself) so stuff like this didn’t happen every year… just every once in a while when really needed.
When my kids started having kids on their own the same kinds of things kept happening. We had a lot of family Christmases with the whole family at my house, and no matter how much my kids were struggling financially, “Santa” always made sure my living room looked like a toy store.
The last time “Santa” stepped in was when my oldest daughter’s youngest was having his doubts about Santa and was testing. It was the year of the great X-Box shortage. Her son was insistent that nothing else would do. She couldn’t afford it even if they found one, but I told her that money wouldn’t be a problem… just find one. She tried on-line… ebay and everything you can imagine. Nothing. We went to every electronics, department, and toy type store in the region… again nothing. Then on one last chance we went back to a local Circuit City three days before Christmas. They told us they were getting in a truck the next day and that they might… might have an X-Box on it.
We couldn’t reserve it or anything like that since they weren’t even sure it was going to be on the truck. We were told that someone would have to be there the instant it came in… if it came in. So, my daughter went to the store when it opened up and stayed in the store all day long waiting for the truck. By the afternoon everyone in the store knew her and why she was there.
I got a call from her that the truck had finally arrived. A few minutes after I got to the store the manager gave her the “hi sign”. She said this was the best present Santa had ever brought her. As I wrote the check to pay for it and with tears of joy in her eyes she turned to me and said, “Thank you Daddy”. That’s as good as the best presents Santa has ever brought me.
I’m not going to ask you if it was Santa or not. I’m going to just say that the kid that wanted the X-Box is 17 and he still believes in Santa. All of my kids, and all of their kids still believe in Santa. That’s five kids and (OMG) twelve grandkids from 5 to 21 that believe in Santa.
This year Santa came through for me. I wanted to go on a cruise with a bunch of my cruise friends right after Christmas… over New Years. I was saving my money for a grand adventure next year. Well… Santa couldn’t contain her excitement and spilled the beans early that she is taking me with her family on that cruise. Yipeeeeeeeeeeee!
But that’s not the end…
I’m spending this Christmas with my daughter, Jodi, that lives in San Antonio. Her husband is in the Army and deployed to Afghanistan. So we are having the family Christmas here at her house.
Tonight I asked their 5 year old son, Nathan, what he wanted Santa to bring him for Christmas. He said an X-box… and then for the first time he said he wanted Santa to bring him his daddy. I had to cry… but… they are happy tears. Nathan, his brother and two sisters don’t know it yet, but we just found out today that Major Tony Bradway will be home from Afghanistan Friday morning.
Yes Nathan… there is a Santa Claus