I was an obsessive child.
I hated not knowing.
I had to know the answers and retorts like, “Because I’m your mother that’s why,” or “Because I said so,” were never acceptable answers.
I was an inquisitive sort. Especially at Christmas.
What I wanted to know: How did Santa Claus do the whole presents thing?
The Christmas stories such as “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” covered St. Nick’s schemes saying he came down the chimney with a bound carrying a sack full of presents.
That’s all fine and good except my house never had a chimney.
I was eight years old and still very much a staunch disciple of the whole Magic of Christmas concept despite my misgivings. I should have been content and satisfied with the fact that I woke up every Christmas morning with presents under the Christmas tree.
But I wasn’t.
So on Christmas Eve, I waited.
My siblings were younger and accepted Santa’s bounty with blissful ignorance. They never questioned the antics of the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny either.
They accepted these with blind faith. I did not.
So I lay there in my bed, staring up at the ceiling as my brother snored in the bunk below. He would not be my partner in crime in this endeavor as he was just three and barely knew he was alive yet.
Neither did I enlist the help of my sisters. One was a blabbermouth and the other I called “The Informant.”
If I were doing something steeped in malfeasance, she would inform my parents of said behavior and the spankings would commence. This tradition played out for about 23 years and I never learned not to trust my youngest sister.
But I did well this night. My plans to catch Santa were my secret and my secret alone.
So I waited until the house was quiet and dark. I waited while the smiling full moon tracked across the night sky. He knew, but he wasn’t telling. I waited well into the night and resisted the pull of sleep.
And then I made my move.
I slid out of the top bunk, careful not to disturb my brother. Then I tippy-toed out into the hallway, pausing to detect the steady rhythmic snoring of my two sisters.
My parents’ bedroom door was closed.
I crept into the kitchen and family room and turned to enter the front living room where the family Christmas tree stood sentinel and waited for our arrival on Christmas morning.
I heard the tinkle of a tiny bell from beyond and leaped into the room to turn on the lights and announce with righteous and knowing glee, “AH HA!”
The room was empty.
There was no fat little elf with the twinkling eyes and the dimples so merry, with cheeks like roses and a nose like a cherry, or whose belly shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly.
Nope, just lots and lots of presents.
The presents were all there, neatly arranged under the tree; even a brand new bicycle for me on my side of the tree, a Huffy 26-inch cruiser, just as I’d written at the top of my list.
How did he do it?
Somewhere deep in the recesses of my tiny eight-year old brain, a voice answered my query, “Your brother and sister have a point, kid. There’s plenty of time to sweat the small stuff. Just enjoy what is today, and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.”
Okay, I get it, but come Easter, that bunny, and how he comes in possession of all those eggs...