The story begins one Christmas Eve, when I was 3 or 4 years old.
Not many people have had this happen to them , but a lot of them grew up in the same place as I did.
I have very dim memories of most of this night, but some moments are stamped in brain like a photo. It seems to me that our parents were strangely quiet and allowed us to play around the tree (which was yet to get most of it's presents around it...that happened in the middle of the night). For me, it seemed I was getting to stay up pretty late....
Suddenly there was the sounds of sleigh bells RIGHT OUTSIDE OUR FRONT DOOR and a LOUD VOICE shouting "HO! HO! HO!".
I remember being paralyzed with excitement and yes, fear...could this really be happening?!...my parents and sister ran over to the window and exclaimed "It's SANTA CLAUS!".....
The doorbell rang...my dad walked over, and along with a blast of cold air... in came a HUGE man that could only be SANTA! OMG!. He shook the sleigh bells ...which were now REALLY LOUD..shouted "HO HO HO!" again, unslung the bag of toys off his back and looked at my sister and me saying "MERRY CHRISTMAS".
I freaked out. I ran into my bedroom and hid under the bed.
My sister and mother came into the room and peering under the bed, persuaded me to come back out..mentioning that Santa had presents for my sister and me.
I shyly came back into the living room, and was beckoned onto Santa's lap. I remember Santa's suit still radiated the coldness from outside, especially since I was just wearing my PJs.
He then proceeded to call me by my name, tell me what a good kid I'd been and OTHERWISE TALK ABOUT THINGS that had happened to me during the year. Whoa.....the whole Santa story was ALL TRUE!
Santa said he came by early to drop off a little present on Christmas eve because we'd been extra nice. (REALLY?) ...we'd get the main delivery in the middle of the night.
He pulled out a long big present from his bag and handed it to me...whoooaaaa..I thought. Then he got up and said is finally MERRY CHRISTMAS, shook the bells..and out the door he went. I peered out the window and Santa got into a station wagon and drove away.
The present was COOL..just the kind of thing I liked: a toy submarine that you could put under water and would actually move under it's own power. How did he know I would like that? I played with it in the bathtub until my sister and I were told that unless we went to bed there would be no return visit from Santa. ..that did the trick.
Years later, I did learn why we (and a lot of other kids) got visited by Santa....
I grew up in Bedford Massachusetts...a small town near Boston..and Bedford has something called the "Bedford Community Santa Program"...here's the story from their website:
It was Christmas shortly after the end of World War II. One of Bedford's Selectman noticed the children of a poor family as they watched Santa going into one of the churches for a Christmas party. Though his children were excited, their father held them back as they were not members of the church. The selectman, Clayton Morril, realized the children's disappointment and resolved to do something about it.
The result is the Bedford Community Santa Program. This is a unique community program that has operated for more than 50 years under the principles established by the founder, Clayton Morril.The chief of these principles is that any child in Bedford can be visited by Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, and be presented with a special Christmas gift. The program is a very large community volunteer effort with over 300 dedicated current and former Bedfordites supporting Santa's visits. Expenses are covered by generous donations; no town funds are used by this program. Learn more about making donations through our donations page.
In my older years I recall going out with my Dad and sister and volunteering one Christmas. I can remember going into the high school gym and seeing HUNDREDS of Santas, zillions of people, and thousands of presents.
Here's how it worked covering a route....or what I remember from our stint..
My Dad was the driver ....he had the list of addresses and had to get us to each house. (this was pre GPS and sometimes it could be slowing and cold).
To his right, in the front was Santa..this was a guy that volunteered to get all decked out and puffed up..really the most fun job but a lot of work too.
In the back were the "elves" ..my and my sister in this case ;)...we had clipboards with the addresses too. In the back of the car were all the presents. Each family that had signed up for the program provided one present for each child...us "elves" would collect the presents for the next visit and put them in Santa's bag.
There were also some "emergency gifts" in Santa's bag in case there were some unexpected children in the house..visitors for example, or just some snafu causing the elves to not have a gift for one of the kids in the house. It would be very very bad for Santa to have gives for all but one child in the house!
Then, we would prep Santa on the children in the house. THIS WAS THE PART THAT WAS SO COOL....."The children are John and Susan...John lost his first tooth this year..he got an A in penmanship, Susan had her tonsils out..etc etc....Ok, now repeat it all back to us!"
This was how magically Santa knew all about you (and frankly scared the heck out of a lot of kids, including me ;)
And that's how Santa came to my house... (and a lot of other houses!)
This program is apparently still running to this day...amazing. Thank you, Clayton Morril, what a generous and wonderful idea.