There was a quiet stillness in the bedroom. My arm was numb and heavy from a toddler’s slumber. The child woke up, unable to return to sleep unless he could sleep with me in the ‘big bed’. His head and arms were strewn across my chest as he had fallen into a deep rest listening to the first heartbeat he had ever drifted asleep to.
A few peace-given minutes are had as soon the daylight will gasp open its breath burgeoning forth another new day. A day which hasn’t come before and won’t come again. The curtains are still, not swaying with the ceiling fan as they normally do. They hung heavy with an illumination from the streetlight glow. The tiny body rolls over and whispers words I cannot understand.
I whisper back, “Are you up?”
“Yes,” the precocious voice answers in the darkness.
“Good morning.” My words plunder through a warm full-size bed where the two of us are snuggled under quilts. I never want to leave this moment.
“Good morning, Mama. I didn’t take nap and I didn’t get popsicle. I saw a train. I heard a train brakes. I heard a train, Mommy.” He rattles off each immediate passing memory and thought.
“You heard a train’s brakes?”
“I heard them. I heard whistles. I hear trains. The garbage men couldn’t get through.” He’s told the tale for over a week about how the garbage truck couldn’t get through the alleyway behind his grandparents’ house.
“I’ve heard.” He is now sitting up and I can vaguely see through the early morning hours an outline of his face and miniature shoulders. “Santa is coming soon, you only have eight more days until Santa will be here.”
“I don’t want Santa to come to my house.” It is a conversation we have almost everyday. He’s scared of Santa. He doesn’t want him coming into his house in the middle of the night. He wants Santa to leave his presents at my work. Then, I am to fetch the gifts and bring them back to him.
“I know, buddy. The elves probably made you an extra special Gordon and Santa just wants to bring it to you. Mommy and Daddy will be here and Santa isn’t allowed to come upstairs.” I’ve tried every rational way I can to calm his fear. All he wants for Christmas is a wooden Thomas and Friends’ Gordon The Big Engine. “Gordon is big. Gordon pulls the Express”, so the story goes.
“He leaves presents at Mommy’s work. I don’t want Santa to come to my house.” The headstrong, determined willed child is my child. Neither of us like being told “no”.
“I will talk to Santa and see what I can do, okay? Do you know what we are going to do on Christmas Eve?” I try to change the subject, divert the attention away from the fact we’re encouraging the idea of a stranger to sneak down our chimney on a cold day near the end of December.
In my mind, I wonder if I could convince my husband to climb onto the roof and shake jingle bells. I create an unrealistic holiday dream sequence. I think forward to when my son is older, he may recall the time he heard Santa Claus land on the roof. I realize my husband would need to climb onto the third level of our home and this would be a dangerous and an absurd feat to accomplish. I know I won’t be able to convince my husband to follow through with this harebrained scheme. I decide to abandon the notion, no matter how great the memory could be.
The little boy answers, “We go to mall?”
“No. No mall on Christmas Eve. You and me are going to bake Santa’s cookies and we’ll eat a big dinner and go see the Christmas lights.”
“Santa drive up there?” I can see his petite toddler arm outreached upwards pointing to the bedroom ceiling.
“Yes. He doesn’t drive, he flies. He has a big sleigh and reindeer that pull his sleigh. He flies all over the world passing out presents to children.”
And with those words swiftly coming out of my excited chest in one brief conversation on an early morning in December, we begin the myth. A little boy becomes intrigued. He begins his journey into the magical lore of his parents telling him: “Yes, there is a Santa Claus.”
He looks at me as if he has held his breath throughout my explanation of Santa and how he travels all over the world visiting children, delivering them their Christmas delights.
He says, “I don’t want Santa to come to my house.”
I smile and say, “We’ll see.”