Optimist reader Ray Crawford offers this delightful memory of Christmas past.
This is a true Christmas tale so if you read this aloud please be aware of your surroundings as I do not wish for the magic of Christmas to be spoiled for those that still believe.
My son was between the ages of four and five, that magical time of questioning the differences between the realities and the fantasies of his world. This was never more prevalent than at Christmas. In my attempts to keep Christmas well for my young son, I had managed to dodge his enquires with my adult wisdom, cunning and mild exaggeration.
Christmas Eve was upon us and the two of us had spent the evening with family and now we headed back home to slumber as we awaited the arrival of Santa Claus. Once home I expressed to my son that he needed to get to bed and asleep quickly so Santa would not miss our home.
Now in his pajamas, he placed cookies and milk on the table and to my surprise he asked, “Dad, could I please have a pen and paper?” I asked why at this time he was in need of pen and paper. “I wish to leave Santa a note,” he replied. Somewhat perplexed, I tried to explain to my son that now was not the time to make any more requests for toys from Santa. My son then stated, “No, Dad, it’s not for toys, I want to ask Santa to please leave me his autograph.”
I began to shake as a cold sweat came flooding over me. Had my young son finally asked the question I could not answer? I sat in wonderment and query. How would I be able to keep my son’s fantasy alive, if only for one more year?
I was the only other person in our home. I was in such a dilemma, for my son would recognize my hand writing. As I sat pondering, it was as if the Christmas fairy herself was sat upon my shoulder, and she whispered, “Sign the autograph with your non-writing hand.”
Elated, I grabbed the pen and, with my left hand, wrote upon my son’s lettered request, “HO-HO-HO.” I had done it. I had secured my son’s innocent fantasy for yet another year.
Christmas morning I awoke and all was in silence. As I made my way to the living room my son called out, “Merry Christmas, can I get up now?” Requesting that he wait a minute, I hurriedly put on the coffee, turned on the tree lights and took my position, camera in hand, to capture my son’s Christmas Day entrance.
I was so wrapped up in my endeavours I had forgotten the previous night’s request for Santa’s autograph.
I called to my son to come to the front room and as he opened the door, I took the obligatory parental Christmas morning picture. Then, to my sheer amazement, my son walked right across the room, past the Christmas tree, past the toys and presents, and even past me, until he arrived at the table where he had left his request for Santa’s autograph.
He looked at the note. My heart was pounding as my son smiled and said to me, “Look, Santa has a sense of humour, he wrote HO-Ho-HO as his autograph.”
Leaving the paper on the table, my son came over to me and with a hug he wished me, “Merry Christmas, Daddy! Now, let’s see what Mr. Sense of Humour left for me.”