A whole lot of people were dreaming of a white Christmas early last week, and a whole lot more people wound up with a nightmare when the dream came true. Greenville came in first in the whole state when accumulated snowfall was computed with 24 inches of the cold, white stuff.
Up until then both Bill and I were very happy with our new driveway that runs all the way along the side of our house and around the back to the new garage. After several hours of snow blowing, Bill was no longer as happy. I still think it’s perfectly lovely, but I can just enjoy it from the window.
All of the snow didn’t keep the clan from assembling here Christmas Eve. Barga’s Heating and Air Conditioning business just down the street cleared their parking area, and that plus our snow blown driveway provided sufficient off-street parking.
They began to arrive about 5 p.m., and things were in full swing by 6 with 37 family members here. The people who got a soft seat stayed seated because they knew if they got up their seat would be quickly occupied by someone else.
By 7, the 5-year-old granddaughter was pacing the floor and watching the stairway to the upstairs. At our house Santa Claus usually comes down those steps to the party.
While her teen sisters and female cousins were congregated on the steps, she watched nervously. Better seats opened up and the girls moved on.
Then two of the much larger teen boys took their places on the steps. That was just too much for Katie to bear. She politely asked them to move. They laughed. She explained that Santa couldn’t come while they blocked the steps. They ignored her. She indignantly ordered them off the steps.
Fortunately Santa arrived at that moment at the front door, so Katie didn’t have to remove those boys. With wide-eyed awe she followed her hero to his rocking chair seat by the Christmas tree. She climbed up on his lap, cuddled up, and softly said, “I love you Santa.”
Later she told her Mom that this was the real Santa. “How do you know?” her Mom asked.
Katie replied, “Because he didn’t come down the steps. He came in the front door.”
A 7-year-old grandson had proclaimed himself a nonbeliever earlier this month. He observed this Santa very carefully and willingly sat on Santa’s lap for a chat. Later he confided to his mom, “He’s really Santa.” When Mom asked, “How do you know?” The boy pointed out, “The hair and the beard are really his.”
Billy, the 16-month-old grandson, was not particularly impressed with the red-suited wonder and his real hair and beard. We were pretty sure the little one wouldn’t be afraid of Santa because he visited their home frequently (without the red suit) and Billy and he were friends.
Billy’s mom was busy helping Santa pass out treats to the cousins. Billy had been going full steam ahead all evening, and he was getting tired. He wanted his mommy. He tried to get her attention, but Grandpa picked him up. That was acceptable for a while because Grandpa is one of Billy’s favorite people.
Then he got his mom’s attention. She said, “Santa, here’s Billy, as she passed Billy over to sit on Santa’s lap. Billy smiled very tentatively at Santa with a look that said, “This is good as it gets, old boy, now put me down.”
Santa handed Billy a candy cane. Billy glared at Santa and pitched the candy on the floor. Santa ho-ho-hoed and handed Billy another candy cane. Billy heaved the candy back at Santa. Once again Santa tried to win Billy’s favor by handing him a bag of treats. Billy threw the bag as hard and as far as he could, squirmed down and claimed his mommy’s lap.
Katie watched these proceedings with total disbelief. I’m sure that by next year she will have convinced Billy that Santa’s lap is the place to be Christmas Eve.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate Dec. 29, 2004.