Exclusive Santa Sighting

Like Superman and Clark Kent, my father and Santa Claus were never seen on Christmas Eve at the same time.

Every year the drill was the same. At our annual Christmas Eve extended family gathering, my dad would announce to all that he ran out of film and needed to go the store.

About 20 minutes later there was a rumbling on the roof and my uncle would loudly declare Santa’s reindeer up there. Then my mother would herd all the kids to peer out the window to see Santa’s sleigh. A minute or two later, the sound of jingling bells, along with a hearty “HoHoHo,” enveloped the room and the kids excitedly scurried to the man in the red suit.

Everyone sat on his lap as he asked what each wanted for Christmas and offered a candy cane as a deposit, promising he would be back later the same night with their wish.
Then he told us to look out the window and watch for Santa’s reindeer again as he mysteriously slipped out of the room.

Twenty or so minutes later, my dad would come back and my uncle will tell him he just missed Santa. He would loudly exclaim his disappointment, and everyone resumed the festivities.

The clever ruse was complete. It was masterful, but there were clues left behind. After running out of film one year, wouldn’t he be prepared the next? And if he was going out for film, why did he never have a bag or the film when he returned?

Luckily kids are not Sherlock Holmes. We were grateful for the candy cane and the exclusive opportunity to ensure our wish list was fulfilled. But one year as I ventured into middle grades, I wondered why Santa was visiting individual holiday parties prior to his big delivery event and posed that and the other questions to my uncomfortable mother.

So, when Christmas Eve came around again, to throw me off the scent, suddenly it was my uncle who ran out of film, and all the roles were reversed. My doubts were quashed, until the next year when I learned in the oracle of all information, the school bus, that Santa was not real. Shortly after reporting this information to my mother, she confessed, while asking me not to ruin it for the little kids.

The next Christmas I was in on the secret. I smirked satisfied at my grown-up deception, playing a leading part in the charade by participating in the distraction to conceal Santa’s entrance and exit. I watched the hoax unfold, amazed at the obvious clues I previously missed.

Years later, various people substituted when suspicions arose. And eventually the film had to be changed out to another last-minute purchase.

When my children were small, my father donned the cap once again for his grandchildren, until my very clever five-year-old son immediately recognized his voice and quickly unmasked him. The next generation must be smarter, as he could not be fooled.

Although until this day, I’ll never know how they made the rumbling sound on the roof. Some secrets are best left unsolved.

(c) Suzanne Rudd Hamilton 2022

Published by suzanneruddhamilton

I write anything from novels and children's books to plays to relate and retell everyday life experiences in a fun-filled read with heart, hope and humor. A former journalist and real estate marketing expert, I am a transplant from Chicago, now happily living in southwest Florida to keep warm and sunny all year round. You can find me at www.suzanneruddhamilton.com

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