Friday, November 21, 2008

Earliest Memories of Christmas

Whenever the holidays approach, I get nostalgic about Christmases gone by. One of my very earliest memories (Perhaps my earliest clear memory, in fact) is a Christmas Memory - catching Santa Claus when I was 5.

It's been over 20 years, but I can still remember what I asked Santa for in my letter that year - a big box with all the magic tricks in the world. I don't think I realized just what a tall order that was, but I knew that if anybody could pull it off, it would be Santa Claus.

I loved Santa Claus - I still do, in fact. I wanted, more than anything, to see him and tell him myself what I wanted for Christmas. Letters were nice and Mall Santas could bring him the message, but I really wanted to be a magician, so when Mom suggested that I try to catch him, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to get my Christmas wish.

Santa Claus has to fill all official Christmas stockings, wherever they may be, so we put a stocking with a jingle bell on it under my pillow on Christmas Eve. I awoke to the sound of that jingling bell (and a slight shaking of my bed - I guess Santa was having trouble reaching it or something) and opened my eyes to see the jolly man in red himself right beside my bed with a big smile on his bearded face. For some reason that I was too sleepy to question, Mom was there with the camera. When I said we should go get Dad, she told me he really needed his sleep and Santa couldn't stay long.

So then the moment came. After a big hug, Santa asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I told him that I wanted a big box with all the magic tricks in the world inside it. He laughed (bowl-full-of-jelly jiggle and all) and said that he had brought me something even better - a magical book!

Now, I know what all you kids are thinking right now . . . what a rip-off! You asked for cool magic tricks and you got a stupid book! I'll admit that I was disappointed at the time, but let me tell you something. It's been 20 years, and I still remember that book with a smile. Opt: An Illusionary Tale was a collection of optical illusions set in a fantasy kindgom. I cannot tell you how many times I flipped through that book and wondered how it all worked. It may not have changed my life, but it was still a lot of fun.

Would I have remembered a big box full of magic tricks? Probably. But what I really remember was the love of Santa Claus. Jolly Old St. Nicholas invites Santa to "Choose for me, dear Santa Claus, what you think is right." Santa Claus may not have given me exactly what I asked for, but he chose well anyway. Isn't it funny how life works out that way sometimes?

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