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1 Santa Claus on Fri Dec 12, 2008 4:49 pm


I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma. I was just a
kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the
day my big sister dropped the bomb: "There is no Santa Claus," she
jeered. "Even dummies know that!"

My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her
that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew
Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always
went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her
"world-famous" cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous,
because Grandma said so. It had to be true.

Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I
told her everything. She was ready for me. "No Santa Claus?" she
snorted.... "Ridiculous! Don't believe it. That rumor has been
going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad!! Now,
put on your coat, and let's go."

"Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked. I hadn't even finished my
Second World-famous cinnamon bun. "Where" turned out to be
Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little
bit of just about everything.

As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars.
That was a bundle in those days. "Take this money," she said,
"and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you
in the car." Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's.

I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my
mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The
store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to
finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood
there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what
to buy, and who on earth to buy it for. I thought of everybody I
knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school,
the people who went to my church. I was just about thought out,
when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad
breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs.
Pollock's grade-two class.

Bobby Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never
went out to recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a
note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids
knew that Bobby Decker didn't have a cough; he didn't have a
good coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing
excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat! I settled on a red
corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he
would like that.

"Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the
counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down. "Yes,
ma'am," I replied shyly. "It's for Bobby." The nice lady smiled
at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good winter
coat. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag,
smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell
out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in
Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, "To Bobby, From Santa
Claus" on it. Grandma said that Santa always insisted on
secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker's house,
explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one
of Santa's helpers.

Grandma parked down the street from Bobby's house, and she and I
crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then
Grandma gave me a nudge. "All right, Santa Claus," she
whispered, "get going." I took a deep breath, dashed for his
front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door
and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. Together
we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to
open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.

Fifty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent
shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker's bushes. That
night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were
just what Grandma said they were, ridiculous. Santa was alive
and well, and we were on his team.

I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95.

May you always have LOVE to share, HEALTH to spare and FRIENDS
that care. And may you always believe in the magic of Santa

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