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“There he goes! Look at those reindeer fly!” His strong right arm balanced the little girl with soot-colored curls on his hip as he stretched out his other arm and pointed upward into the wintry night sky.
Her eyes widened with wonder and searched every nook and cranny of the star-laden blanket of black. She shook her head, her curls bouncing with the movement, the icy cold air biting her nose.
“You don’t see it?” he asked in disbelief.
She shook her head again and tipped her tiny finger to the edge of her mouth, worried that she’d missed something so very important.
Her daddy took her hand and held it between his two fingers. “What did Granny say about puttin’ your fingers in your mouth, Tessy?”
One front tooth already missing, she whistled just a bit when she spoke. “Ladies don’t put their fingers in their mouth.”
“That’s right. That’s my good girl. Now, look up again. I can hear him, can’t you?”
This time, her mouth formed a huge O as she craned her neck and looked toward the sky once more. A nervous flutter swirled in her stomach. She couldn’t hear or see Santa. Maybe only big people could.
Her daddy grinned and jostled her on his hip. “Those reindeer are really fast. Ole Santy’s a streakin’ through the sky so he’s hard to see, but you should be able to hear him. Try doin’ this,” he said, his eyes bright with laughter as he cupped his free hand to his ear.
Tessy placed her hand to her ear, mostly covering it up rather than helping her to hear anything. No, she couldn’t hear Santa. But her daddy heard him, and she didn’t want to disappoint her daddy, now did she? She grinned that one-tooth-missing smile of hers, threw her hands up in the air, and giggled. “I hear him! I hear him!”
“Do you see him, too?” Daddy asked.
“Uh huh.” She nodded, almost certain she did see and hear Santa now.
“You do? Well, what’s he sayin’?
Tessy thought a moment then tucked her chin into her chest and made the Santa face her daddy had been showing off for days. And in her best Santa voice, she said, “Ho Ho Ho, Murry Kissmuss!”
I think my daddy must have told that story a couple of thousand times before he left this world to move on to the next. I take great comfort in knowing that the memory was just as special to him as it still is to me. It was Christmas Eve and for some odd reason, my parents decided that I’d get all my Christmas goodies under the tree that night instead of the next morning. They may have wanted to sleep late for all I know. LOL
So while Mama and Granny were getting the gifts ready and putting them under the tree, Daddy took me for a drive. I was six at the time and my sister only three. So Sis didn’t get to go along. She was too young to know what was going on, and besides, I recall my daddy saying on more than one occasion that he couldn’t handle little kids—they had to get old enough to have some kind of personality before he could deal with them (and I’m told I was basically born with some kind of personality, lol).
When we came back home and got out of the car, he started carrying me across the yard, and then suddenly stopped and pretended that he had seen Santa and his reindeer up in the sky—that he could actually hear them. LOL And what I wrote above was, of course, the way it happened. Even though I was only six, I honestly remember that entire scene just like I was there right now. I remember the scent of Daddy’s Old Spice aftershave, how bitterly cold it was that night—me wearing a fuzzy little red coat and a hat that matched, but I kept putting the hat in my pocket because I hated the way the ribbon felt tied beneath my chin—and I remember that sky. It was so clear that night. So quiet. But in the distance, with Daddy’s careful prodding, I heard the jingle of sleigh bells and Santa’s voice loud and strong.
I sure miss my daddy.
Merry Christmas, Daddy. I love you.
I hope everyone who reads our blog this month will share in the spirit of the holidays with us and tell us about some of their favorite Holiday memories and traditions. That's what this time of year is all about--sharing. We might be online and unable to exchange gifts, but we can certainly give each other that special holiday spirit by exchanging little bits 'n' pieces of our lives from over the years. So, c'mon, share a memory with us or tell us something about the way you celebrate the season. We'd all love to hear from you.