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A Christmas Story (Yeah, it's early...but I feel like sharing)

posted 10/12/2007 1:40:07 PM |
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tagged: life

A number of years ago, My oldest son confronted me with the age old question, that almost all children get around to asking, sooner or later..."Is there REALLY a Santa Claus?".....

As my mind searched frantically to find just the right answer, one that could strike a balance between reality and faith in the unseen, I suddenly remembered a very special Christmas from my childhood.

Growing up in rural Alabama, in the 1950's, I learned early that life offers no guarantees, and nothing lasts forever. My Father was a share-cropper (along with almost everyone else) whose efforts to provide for his family, I am sad to say, was never appreciated by myself until later years.

It had been a bad year...cotton was at rock bottom, and after paying off the grocery store, and the seed bill, there was nothing left....The hens weren't laying too well, and both of the hogs died just before Thanksgiving....Back then, everyone raised two hogs a to slaughter for winter meat, the other to sell, for school clothes and Christmas money...But, none of these things mattered to me at the time...

Christmas was coming!!!...and that meant a visit from Santa!!!....The passion and excitement of a six year old at this time, is unequaled...It was all I could talk about...It was all my friends at school talked we huddled together and whispered the things we hoped Santa would bring, not daring to say them too loud, for fear of jinxing them...My brother, Sister, and myself, spent every evening poring over the Sears catalog...dreaming of all the wonderful things we saw there...

I can only imagine the pain my parents must have felt....Christmas only days away, and having to look at 3 bright, shining, expectant faces everyday...Trying to decide...what to tell us...that Santa wasn't real?...that he had nothing for poor children?....What?...How?...When?....It must have been pure hell for them.

Finally, Christmas Eve arrived....We had our tree up, that was decorated with our hand made ornaments....Supper had been eaten, and we were sitting around the fireplace, waiting quietly for Momma to say "off to bed!!"...My Father began clearing his throat, as he always did when he had something important to say...We looked up at him as he began.."You know, this has been a bad year for us...maybe Santa had a bad year too..."....

That was the first time I ever saw my mother interrupt my father...."Poppa, NO!!!" she said...they looked at each other, tears welling....Without taking her eyes off my father she said "you kids get off to bed!!"

We all scrambled off to our beds and snuggled down under our quilts....trying to get to sleep as quickly as possible...SANTA WAS COMING!!!...The sooner we fell asleep...the sooner he could come....

I had just fallen asleep, when I was awakened by a very familiar was a sound i had heard almost every day of my life...The sound of Ranch Pettaway's old rusted out Dodge pickup truck.....Mr Pettaway was an old black man that farmed the next section over from us...He passed our house everyday in that old truck...engine roaring from lack of a muffler, rusted out fenders banging and flapping in the breeze...but this time...he pulled into our yard and beeping his horn.....

We jumped out of bed and ran to the window as my father walked out to see what was wrong....the headlights were shining at us, so we couldn't really see anything, except the shape of my father and Ranch leaning on the bed of the truck talking in low tones.....

My mother came in the room and put us back to bed, assuring us that everything was ok, and no need to worry...We lay there awake...not daring to speak, until we heard that old truck roar off into the night......then we fell asleep...

I awoke the next morning to the sound of my brother and sister whispering excitedly...Wake up! Wake up!...It's CHRISTMAS!!!....Suddenly my father burst into the room..."Wake up, sleepyheads...I think Santa has been here"....

We rushed into the living room....and there, under the tree was a pile of brightly colored boxes and packages....Santa really did come!!!...

Funny, now...I really don't recall exactly what was in those packages....I just remember feeling that this Christmas was really special....

Years later, I found out that it had been a bad year for everyone in our community...even Mr Pettaway....who had sold BOTH his hogs, and used the money to buy presents for all the children in the area...and spent his Christmas Eve delivering them....

With the memory of Ranch Pettaway in my mind, I looked squarely into my son's eyes, and replied: " Yes, Santa is real...He's an old black man that drives a rusted out old blue Dodge pickup..."

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post a comment!


Oct 12 @ 1:53PM  
your right there really is a Santa and that man was truely blessed!

Oct 12 @ 2:01PM  
An absolutely beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it with us.


Oct 12 @ 2:56PM  
*sniff* *sniff* Thanks for sharing.

Oct 12 @ 3:25PM  
grabs a tissue so I can find the keyboard
My Granddaughter told me last year that she believes there is a real Santa Claus, she just doesn't believe that he's a fat man wearing a red suit. I asked her what she did think he looked like. She told me she wan't sure, Yet.
Santa comes in so many sizes, shapes and colors. The one sure thing is there is a genuine heart.
Thanks for sharing this.....

Oct 12 @ 3:26PM  
sneaks back in and drops off a kudo, and maybe a glass of milk. lol

Oct 12 @ 3:33PM  
Thanks, looking.....I'll put the little thingy up on my shelf for all to i pour a shot of scotch into the milk)

Oct 13 @ 6:49AM  
GREAT BLOG straightup. We all sometime look back at times in our life that helped make us what we are today. A big green Kudo wrapped up for you.

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A Christmas Story (Yeah, it's early...but I feel like sharing)