Every year at about this time, we get out the boxes of Christmas decorations, and every year at about this time I receive a gift from the ghost of Christmas past. For some reason I am always surprised, even though it is the same gift every year. The story begins on Christmas eve, 1945.
The next thing I knew, you were shaking me and whispering, “Mick, Mick, wake up! Santa was here; he came at midnight, but you were sound asleep and I couldn’t wake you up so I had to go out and help him and then we sat in the kitchen for hours having milk and cookies and talking and then he left and I got to watch the sleigh and reindeer fly off into the sky and he waved goodbye and yelled Merry Christmas and I tried to wake you up but you wouldn’t wake up!”
To say I was crushed would be an understatement. Through my tears I said, “No, no, no it’s not true, you’re lying, you never saw Santa, you’re lying!”. You responded, “I can prove he was here. He lost one of his boots going up the chimney, and I found it. See, it proves he was here.” Then you pulled out the most magical object I had ever seen in my tiny little life. Santa’s boot.
Years later I realized that it wasn’t his boot at all, of course. It was a red plastic boot which probably had contained candy or some such goodies. At that moment, though, it had an aura of inestimable magic; and every year, when I open one of the boxes, I am caught off guard by that aura, still lingering after all these years. I’m sure that if you saw me at one of those moments, you’d still see the wide-eyed wonder of a little boy.
Thanks, Bob, for my never-ending Christmas present.