Best Santa Ever

By Diane DeVaughn Stokes

Best Santa Ever

It was a bitter, cold snowstorm that hit New Jersey, one day before Christmas, producing five feet of snow and bringing the whole town to its knees.

It was not quite Norman Rockwell-ish but nevertheless a winter wonderland of white. I was ten years old and hoping for a Magnus Chord organ under the tree. Of course, by this time, I knew that the real Santa Claus existed in the hearts and wallet of my parents, so I was not surprised when my mom told me that the organ, which was on lay-away at Sears five miles away, was not going to make it to the house in time for Christmas, since my dad could not drive in this terrible storm which was slowly mixing with ice.

I wasn’t upset and certainly understood the situation as I eagerly watched my dad cut off the bottom of the beautiful Frasier Fir, standing it up and forcing it into the tree stand. Once it was up and secure, he dressed for work and walked to Union Carbide as he always did since it was only two blocks away. Meanwhile, Mom put on her old blue jeans and red plaid shirt as she prepared to awaken her creativity.

Spread out all over the floor were gorgeous glass colored balls, sparkling lights in the shape of little candles, silver stands of tinsel and angel hair that all gradually made it to the tree. Mom constantly reminded me to place one strand of tinsel at a time to make it look like real icicles. It was tedious, but always worth the effort.

Then out came the manger scene, the same one Mom uses beneath the tree to this day. We always kissed the little baby Jesus as we laid him in His bed of straw. And still do. Mary and Joseph were beside Him, and all the other figurines were facing the Christ Child in complete adoration. Even the sheep and cows were placed strategically among the wise men and three kings. The pageantry of it all was so beautiful.

Then, just like in “Twas the Night before Christmas,” the stockings were hung by the chimney with care, and our two-bedroom apartment was whimsically transformed. Mom and I bundled up in our long under and outerwear and walked to my grandparent’s apartment four blocks away to help prepare desserts for the next day. Dad joined us later when he got home from work, and we all ate my grandmother’s chili, perfect for a snowy Christmas Eve. Then we trudged home amid what had become a treacherous ice storm.

I remember lying in bed Christmas morning hearing icicles break off the nearby rooftops, and the early morning traffic crushing through the icy road. I was in no hurry to get up since the one thing I wanted most would not arrive till the storm was over, and the snow was gone.

Then I heard my mom shout out from the living room, “Get up, Santa Claus came last night!” With a slight giggle I put on my robe and slippers and scurried towards the tree. There, in its entire splendor, was a beautiful Magnus Chord Organ. I was elated and shocked because I knew Dad could never have gotten his car to Sears in this ice storm.

It was then that my mom told me that Dad worked only a half day on Christmas Eve, and walked five miles to Sears and back pulling the organ on my sled. Just so I would have it on Christmas morning.

And now the best part of this story…

My mom had only been married to Dad for a year and a half at this time. I knew he loved her but was never sure he really loved me. I felt that I was just tagging along in this relationship, and that Dad had to accept this package deal, until now. This man, my new dad, really did love me. He braved the storm to make my Christmas magical, even more magical than the Santa of my younger years ever did.

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One Response to “Best Santa Ever”

  1. Dianne,
    What a sweet story, filled with emotion and wrapped up in a beautiful ending like a big Christmas bow.

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