By W. L. Elliott
“I have enough scraps to make dollies for the girls,” I told my husband, after the children had gone to sleep Christmas Eve. “But the boys will just have to understand. They’re old enough.”
“The boys need Christmas, too,” he said quietly. Ten minutes later he came in with scraps of lumber and his knife. While I sewed he started to whittle.
I thought about my children as we sat there in silence. The three boys were quickly becoming young men. Their father, my first husband, died shortly after the youngest boy was born. I’d remarried, learning I was pregnant the day they took my new husband to prison for something he’d done before we met. That made no difference to Bill. As far as he was concerned, the first four were his as much as the two little girls that came after we wed.
I worried how we would feed six children after tomorrow. The Great Depression had left Bill unemployed. He’d desperately looked for work, but everywhere he went there were a hundred others just like him. The only thing left in the pantry were a few cans of beans. When they were gone, I didn’t know what we would do.
At midnight, a loud knock startled us both. Setting my sewing aside, I followed Bill to the door.
“Merry Christmas!” Outside stood a group, led by a man with a white beard, dressed in red.
“I think you have the wrong house,” Bill said.
“Now, Bill,” Santa said with a grin, “We’re right where we’re supposed to be.” They came through the door, each carrying a big box. “Good evening, Luella,” Santa said, “We’ve brought your Christmas feast!”
The boxes were filled to overflowing with groceries, much more than one Christmas dinner. My cupboards were full for the first time in months. Coming out of the kitchen, I found our little tree surrounded with packages, each addressed to one of us.
“Where are the children?” Santa asked.
“They’re asleep,” I answered.
“Well, wake them up!” How could I refuse?
St. Nick shook hands with the boys, calling each by name. Then he turned to the little girls. Shy Charlene clung to my dress and the baby would have nothing to do with him. But five year old Wilma, ever the sensible one, climbed up on his lap.
“Are you really Santa?” she asked.
“Of course, I am!” he answered. “Don’t you believe me? Pull my beard and see for yourself!” She gave it a yank and her dark eyes widened; my little skeptic was convinced.
I noticed a ring on Santa’s finger, intricately carved silver tarnished with age. I studied it, determined that if I ever met this man on the street, I would recognize those who had been so generous.
Sixty years I watched for that ring. I never saw it again, or man that wore it. But the beautiful memory of that fairy tale Christmas never dimmed.
I believe in Santa Claus.
I’ve met him.