Writers’ Page – December 2014

The group meets every Tuesday at 1pm in room A8 in Cottonwood.

Santa for Real

Joe Schwab

On a cold December day a few years back, my Wife and I bundled up, loaded the car with presents and headed over the river and through the woods to the town of Bend. We were going to spend a few days with our Son’s family and enjoy Christmas Eve with them. The pass was white and clear with all the beauty I remembered from my younger days. We arrived at their home and were greeted by the two young Grandkids full of eagerness for our visit but more for the coming of the Grand old man known as Santa Claus.

Lisa, their mother was tending to the details and striving to keep their focus on the birth of Jesus Christ while still allowing the joy of Santa and Christmas trees to keep them occupied. Tom and I watched Christmas shows with the kids and went to the park on Christmas Eve afternoon to enjoy outdoors and slide on the frozen pond.

Then it was to the restaurant for an afternoon snack, back to the house for more dreaming and trying to guess what each of the presents under the tree contained. They were assured Santa would be bringing more as those were from us and the other Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles I tried to convince them we had gotten them white socks and plain underwear, a long standing joke in the family. One of the kids during a past Christmas tried his best to mask dismay as a gift of plain underwear was opened. He wasn’t sure if that was the extent of the gifts or the makings of a joke. In any case it became the white socks threat.

We sat down to a late dinner, prepared with impeccable skill by Tom How this Son of mine learned to cook is beyond both My Wife and I? We could hardly get him to clean his room and make a peanut butter sandwich for lunch when he was in high school. But the meal was fit for a king! Roast beef, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, shrimp salad, chilled asparagus, hot biscuits, gravy and topped off with Pecan pie for dessert! All presented on the table like a picture from Good Housekeeping. It was enough for us but there was more to come. Tom and Lisa let the children each open one gift of their choosing, listened to some soft music then off to bed with the admonishment that Santa would only come if they were asleep. The food, the music and the gifts worked their magic and both fell asleep. Then came the most interesting part!

Lisa turned down all the lights, put on some soft Christmas music and advised us to stay in the background, remain absolutely still and watch the proceedings. I wasn’t prepared for what I saw next. The doorbell chimed and there stood Santa! He spoke very little as if he was there to see someone other than the four of us. He looked as real as any actor in any good movie! Everyone remained quiet as Lisa went upstairs and woke the two kids. They climbed down the stairs groggily trying to awaken and see to what their wondering eyes did appear. Santa, standing there in the doorway, spoke very softly and asked them if they had been good. I was beginning to become caught up in the moment as I looked at my wife and smiled. It was a magical moment, one that even had me wondering if it was real or imagined. Santa hugged both of the kids, gave a nod and placed his finger aside his nose and was gone. We all stood there wondering in the magic of what had just happened. All of us except for the kids, of course, knew it had been staged, yet it was so very real. They were taken back to bed and immediately fell asleep. We retreated to the living room fireplace and said very little for a while. Then started to discuss how well it went off. My brain was still trying to process the entire event, the calmness, the skill of the man who played Santa. For several minutes he was real! Then it was over.

The next morning the kids were up early and tearing at the packages to see what Santa had given them. Not much was said about the visit until Tom brought it up. “Did you guys remember seeing Santa last night?” Both of them replied they had but could not remember much as if it was in a dream. “He was nice” was about all that was said. They went about playing with their new toys.

I remembered back to when I was a very young boy; a very bad Santa in a rumpled suit and one of those bad fabric masks they had in those days, visited our house. He sounded surprisingly like a neighbor down the street but as sort of a believer I wasn’t sure. By the time the next Christmas rolled around, Santa had ceased to be real. We would play along with the younger kids who still believed as it was a grave offense to dismiss the myth to someone who still believed. That night in Bend, probably 14 or 15 years ago, Santa was real once again! I know because I saw him through the eyes of our Grandchildren.

Magic Moments of Christmas

Yvonne L. White

Each December I would jot down special events of the Christmas season in a journal. These were the magic moments that occurred that were very special. Lately I have just enjoyed the season, but maybe because I feel rushed during this time is because I do not journal.

In September I assemble two Advent strips for our two Minnesota grandchildren, one for Lucy and one for Luke with a piece of Andes mints or M&Ms each day. They are stored for December 1 on top of their mother’s china cabinet.

Right after Thanksgiving my mother, grandmother, and great grandmother would plan on what cookies to bake, and when we could start baking a certain kind. We are German so we had Ein Beis, Springale, and Lepkuchen. We always remembered our neighbors and would take a plate to several people. I don’t make many now, but do enjoy fixing a pretty plastic or paper plate for a friend. I had been in a cookie exchange in Sun Lakes for a few years and in addition to the five dozen for the exchange we made one dozen cookies to be sent to Afghanistan for the troops. Each year my two grandchildren come over in December and we make candy cane cookies.

Christmas cards are fun to get. Some of the news is sad, but most is uplifting and for a few moments we pretend we are with the friends who sent the card.

At Risen Savior Lutheran, we have our picture taken right after Thanksgiving and then the picture has a loop on it and it goes on the tree in the Fellowship Hall.

Christmas Eve has always been magical. Going to church in the early evening, hearing Oh Holy Night sung as a solo, and in the North snowflakes dropping to the ground after the church service. Then we would have shrimp cocktail and other hors d’oeuvres outside on the patio!

When my boys had their first Christmas, they were five and six months old and how they would stare at the lights on the tree. Our godchild was three years and she just squealed when presents were opened. It didn’t matter how much the toy cost – just sheer appreciation.

Christmas parties come and go – some fun, but few memorable.

One Christmas, in the ‘70s, we came to visit my parents in Mesa, Arizona for Christmas and have a picture of Santa by the swimming pool and we are in swimsuits standing by Santa!

Every year brings new magic moments in December. I have become lazy the last few years about journaling them. I will try this year to move slower, reflect more and take the time to write down the special moments that enrich the Christmas season.

Celebrate Christmas Eve

Dick Nelsen

Well it’s that time of year again. Celebrating the Christmas Holiday, when families get together and pretend that the real meaning of Christmas is religious. No I’m just kidding, but when you’re a kid the key thought is what is Santa Clause going to leave under the tree? The excitement of anticipating waiting for the big fat man with the long white beard to determine if you were naughty or nice. During December, if not the previous 11 months, my brother and I were, the best, most helpful children any parent would ever want, matter of fact what choice did we have? In our younger years my brother and I were really good, especially in December. We didn’t get a lot of things fir Christmas, but it was still a lot of fun.

I think, however, it was our dad who had the most fun. His idea of celebrating Christmas was the same every year. He would come home from the drug store about 10:30 in the evening. He’d prepare a crème de mint on the rocks for my grandmother, and in a short time she would well ask for another one, after all if was Christmas, and it was her favorite.

That’s when dad would go through his usual routine. When my brother was about five years old and I was 10 years old he started his favorite holiday tradition. With great bravado he’d announce, “OK Dickie take Billy upstairs and get into your pajamas.” We were then supposed to hustle upstairs to our bedroom. We lived in a Cape Cod house. It had two dormers with windows and extended the entire width of the house. Of course the roof slanted and as the years progressed you had to be careful not to bang your head. Between our twin beds was a black bear rug. Nothing significant about that except I think it was the rug that caused me to sneeze all the time.

Anyway we were upstairs getting into our pajamas. Trust me in Iowa in December they were the flannel kind. The upstairs or as some people called it, the attic, was cold. It was then my dad would say, “Oh! Santa the boys are upstairs.” “Boys, boys Santa is here, hurry down.” We would scramble down the stairs to see my father looking into the fireplace saying, “Bye Santa.” He’d then turn to my brother and I and say, “Oh boys you just missed him again.” At times I wondered how Santa Claus made it up and down the chimney with the fire burning, so hot.

This was all right when we were young, but it kept up every year since. However, when you come home from college, age 20, and your little brother has his learner’s permit to drive, our father’s Christmas celebration antics seemed a bit childish. To tell you the truth I have never forgotten the fun we had, the terrific acting job Billy and I went through to help make our holiday celebration memorable by faking disappointment in missing St. Nick each year. To this day every Christmas Eve I remember that corny ritual. Best of all I remember the look of joy on my parents’ face when there under the tree was our big Christmas present delivered by Santa Claus while we were upstairs going through the get into your pajamas routine. We always just seemed to miss him every year, strange thing. But what I really miss was our family together to celebrate Christmas. It was not opulent, but it was our special celebration. We knew then and now how to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. But our celebration of Christmas today. Well it’s pretty special too. Too bad we don’t have an upstairs.