This year, my grandfather would have celebrated his 89th birthday. Here’s a little Christmas story about my grandfather and I.
When I was five years old, my mother and I lived with my grandparents. I was incredibly fascinated by Santa Claus and couldn’t wait to see if I would receive all of the presents on my list. I have no recollection as to whether or not I had been naughty or nice throughout the year but that particular Christmas Eve I was naughty. With my pajamas on and cookies prepared, I decided to wait up for Santa and see if he was real. I camped out on the staircase – which faced the front door to our house – believing that if Santa was real he’d enter through the front door just like everyone else. After all, our chimney was blocked and no one in their right mind would carry gifts through a back alley in Baltimore City in the 1980s.
My mother, aunt and grandmother tried to coerce me to go to bed and threatened that they’d call Santa and let him know I was misbehaving. Their threats had no affect on me. In fact, they made me more determined to sit up as long as I could. Dosing off, I waved good-bye to my grandfather as he left promising to return in a few minutes.
I fell asleep on the staircase and when my grandfather returned, I was startled and jumped up to find him walking through the entryway saying “Look who I found!” It was Santa! He was a Black man and a lot thinner than I imagined. Santa said something to me but I can’t remember what. I only remember feeling panic as I realized that Santa was real, in my home and probably going to find out that I had misbehaved. I ran up the stairs as quickly as my five-year-old legs could carry me, jumped into bed and closed my eyes.
The next morning our living room was filled with toys including my coveted Cabbage Patch dolls.
Years later, my grandfather and I laughed about the events of that Christmas Eve. He told me that he realized it would take him some time to set up all the toys that were hidden in the basement and the longer I stayed up the less sleep he would get. So he decided to teach me a little lesson and see if he could find a Santa. Luckily, there was a man dressed in a Santa suit less than two blocks from our home. My grandfather told him that he had a little girl who wouldn’t go to sleep and he’d pay him to come in the house and pretend he was Santa so that I would go to bed. According to my grandfather, Santa had been drinking that night so he appreciated the extra money for a little “Christmas cheer”.
Happy Birthday, granddad and thanks for a great Christmas!