There once was a man of tall and broad stature with the strength of a mighty oak. While this man was indeed a mountain, he possessed the gentlest of hearts, which supplied him the spirit to assume the jolliest of roles on one magical Christmas Eve.
I know there are families all around the globe that have and/or know a man like him. A man who has eyes full of love and a smile that touches your very soul. We were blessed to have such a man amongst our family. For he, dear readers, was our Santa Claus.
And, it is this story I bring you today for Meadowdale’s Morning Porch Report.
You may find it odd we would publish a Porch Report in December.
“Nay, nay,” we say to you, Skeptical Reader!
For it was on that very porch where I first saw Santa Claus up-close, live, and in-person.
He was as good as gold.
I was the ripe old age of 8, and my little cousin Aaron was six months my junior. Also, Aaron was a pain in my little neck. He got me in trouble all the time. And, we played together almost every day. We fought a lot but we did get along occasionally. (Actually, I love that kid!)
And, on Christmas Eve in Meadowdale in 1978 … we were both wound tight.
Aaron and I were bopping and running through the house like wild people. That was our job. Plus, our house is huge, so we had plenty of places to run and act crazy. I think some family members told us to sit down and shut up a couple of times, but I don’t really remember. We didn’t listen.
We did have to sit down and eat our dumb dinner though. We didn’t care about food. Santa Claus was coming!!!!!! Plus, the whole family was here, so we had to hurry up with the meal and quickly get back to acting like idiots. There was no time to lose. It was CHRISTMAS!!!
We were jumping around and being loud in the living room when Grandma told us to “hush and listen!”
We shut up fast because, first of all, you don’t mess with Grandma because she doesn’t fool around. And, second of all, whenever she told us to “hush and listen,” usually there was something extremely incredible to hear.
Just then, we heard it – jingle bells.
Holy crap! Our eyes bugged out, and we drew in a long breath.
Could it be???????????
Was it he???? The Big GUY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And, like magic, just beyond the Christmas tree, on the other side of the window … THERE HE WAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
He was in his red suit and all!! And, he had JINGLE BELLS!!!!!!
(The jingle bells really sealed the deal for us. Any moron could jump in a Santa suit. But, who carries around jingle bells? Seriously…)
Then, he took off.
That put us into motion. The mission control in our brains activated our small feet. We knew from the direction he turned that he must be going around the house. We took off for the stairs. I pushed Aaron out of the way and stepped on him to get ahead. Then, he pulled my hair and made it past me. BUT … we got to the top of the steps just in time to see Santa walk by on the front porch.
He was really REAL.
I knew it!!!
Everybody said he wasn’t, but I knew he was because Mama said so!!
(And, if my Mama said it, it was true.)
Then, somebody said something about how I better get myself into bed and get to sleep or HE would not leave me any presents. I split for my room. I don’t know what happened to Aaron. He had to go to his own house to go to his room. The kid was dead weight. He became his Mom’s problem.
I yanked off my Christmas dress, tossed it aside, and jumped in my nightgown. My dress was still gliding through the air as I pulled my covers up to my chin.
Mama and Daddy came to kiss me goodnight.
And, I laid there, a nervous wreck, with my eyes wide open until 5 a.m.
To this day, I can’t sleep on Christmas Eve.
About the Author
Crysta Stephenson grew up in the Meadowdale and Vanderpool areas of Highland County. She loved it so much that she returned to raise her daughters on the family farm, Glenwood. She received a B.A. in mass communications with a minor in history from Mary Baldwin College. For 13 years, she honed her journalism skills as a staff writer and editor at two small Virginia newspapers. Her second career - also lasting 13 years - focused on managing two small historical museums here in Virginia. These days, she juggles lots of odd jobs including writing and museum assignments that give her time to enjoy life and admire the accomplishments of her daughters, Rebecca and Suzanna, and play with her grandmutts, Alex and Snoopy. She splits her time between her family home in Highland and her apartment in Augusta County.