Christmas has always been about “wishing.”
When I was a little girl (and the Dead Sea was still alive, as my kids might say), all I wanted was a certain toy — a Tony doll or maybe, if I’d been really good, a red Schwinn two-wheeler. In my teens, I wished Santa might bring me a gold charm for my bracelet, maybe a circle pin, or perhaps a round-collared McMullen blouse from Peck & Peck.
As a new mom, I prayed my little tots would be healthy and flu-free on Christmas Eve. Old photos of two sweet toddlers in red pajamas, sitting in front of a roaring fire, remind me that the chicken pox and other nuisances occasionally tried to spoil Santa’s visit. And one of them was always missing a tooth!
My wishes are simpler these days. I want “time and love” with family, plus fewer aches and pains for Mr. Wonderful and me. What more do I need? Truthfully, nothing.
Today as I write this, snow is falling heavily and steadily outside my windows, turning my Maine back yard into a winter wonderland. The beautiful scene triggers another special memory of a Christmas long ago.
I was probably seven years old and the only gift I wanted was a doll house. Every week during December, standing in my Brownie “wish circle,” I would squeeze the hand of the girl next to me and make my wish: Dear Santa, please, please bring me a dollhouse. I wrote letters to the North Pole. I pestered mom daily.
On that Christmas Eve in the late 1940s, my brothers, sister and I were tucked in our beds in adjoining rooms, upstairs in the old drafty farmhouse 50 miles north of New York City. Outside, the ground was blanketed with a foot of snow and our window panes were thick with rime.
From an adjoining room my brother Ross yelled, “Do you think Santa will bring us bikes?” “Go to sleep,” sister Robin hollered back. She was the oldest, so we usually listened to her. For the next few moments there was total silence.
Then, suddenly, we heard jingling bells and thumping footsteps on the sloped shed roof above our heads. “Ho ho ho!” a male voice said.
“Is that Santa?” I whispered to my sister. My twin brothers ran into our room. “That’s gotta be him,” they said in unison. We were beside ourselves with excitement.
Suddenly, amidst the clomping footsteps, the “ho ho ho’s” turned to “Oh my god!” and “Jesus Christ!” and a few other choice words as “Santa” slipped on an icy patch and fell off the roof — fortunately into a snow pile just below. Then, groans.
“That sounds like Dad,” my sister said. Indeed it was, but it never affected my faith in Santa Claus and the joy of wishing. Especially because the next morning, there next to our tinseled Douglas fir, stood a two-story, fully-furnished doll house.
I knew then, and I still believe today, that Dad slid off the roof trying to bring Santa’s gift to me into the house. That’s the magic of Christmas — and the belief that wishes can come true.
(Thank you, Ken Janes, for letting me use the prize-winning photo above. The others I snapped with my trusty iPhone but they pale in comparison to Ken's artistry.)