20: Santa Fell Off the Roof

20: Santa Fell Off the Roof

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: It's Christmas!

Santa Fell Off the Roof

It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.

~Charles Dickens

The room, toasty from the fire and glittering with Christmas lights, smelled of pine from our freshly cut tree. Footsteps on the roof disrupted our peaceful Christmas Eve.

Vincent, my oldest, gave me a grin and sprang to his feet. “Santa!”

Joseph, my youngest, leapt from the couch. “Santa?” He looked at the ceiling. “Really?”

“Shhh. You two should get to bed before he finds out you’re awake.”

The footfalls came closer and evolved into stomping. “Ho, ho, ho!” a deep voice boomed from above.

Putting his hands together like a prayer, Joseph stuck his bottom lip out so far it reached his chin. “No, Mommy! Please let me stay up and see him.”

I put my finger to my lips. “You don’t want to startle...”

“Agh!”

From outside, we heard a loud thud.

Vincent raced to the window. “Oh no! Santa fell off the roof!”

The rest of us hurried to look. Seeing the backside of a man in a red suit sprawled in the snow, I rushed outside and fell to my knees. “Santa! Are you okay?”

The big-bellied man rolled over and moaned, then sat up and adjusted his cap. “I think so.” Chuckling, he said, “Good thing for the soft snow.” He wrapped his arms around his protruding belly. “And all this extra padding I have.”

Taking his hand, Vincent helped him up.

“Goodness.” The big man let out a belly laugh. “That’s never happened before.” Bells jingled as he brushed off the snow.

Spellbound, Joseph stood with his hands on his cheeks, mouth agape, eyes huge with disbelief.

Vincent picked up the bulky bag and handed it to Santa. “Hey, my mom’s a nurse. You should come in so she can make sure you’re okay.”

“Well…” Santa put his gloved hand to his cherry-red nose. “That sounds like a great idea.” He limped inside and plopped into a chair.

I turned back and saw my son in the snow, standing as motionless as an ice sculpture. “Joseph?”

Startled, he turned his head and looked at me.

Holding out my hand, I said, “Come inside, Sweet Pea.”

He drifted toward the door and then tugged on my sleeve. “Is... is that really Santa?”

Smiling, I cupped his face in my hands. “Yes, and we need to get inside so I can examine him.” Before he could protest, I pulled him into the room. He sat far away and stared at the magical man from across the room with unblinking eyes.

A thorough examination found no injuries. “Nothing cookies and cocoa can’t fix,” I said.

When my husband entered the room, I sent him for the goodies. A few moments later, he handed them to the jolly man, who thanked him and took a bite of a cookie.

Santa’s put his face over the mug and breathed in, steam wetting his white beard and coating his glasses. “Mmm. I love hot cocoa even more than milk. And these sugar cookies are my favorite.”

I smiled and pointed at my petrified son in the corner. “Joseph helped me make them.”

Santa waved the cookie at him. “Great job, son! Best cookie I’ve ever had.”

Huddled in a corner, my child didn’t move or speak.

Santa’s white eyebrows furrowed. “What’s the matter, little one?”

Everyone looked at Joseph and waited for an answer.

After a moment of silence, Santa put down the cocoa and cookies. “Are you afraid of me?”

No answer.

“Well...” Santa picked up his toy bag. “I might as well give you boys your presents while I’m here.” Stuffing his head and hands in the bag, he searched. “Let’s see... ah yes, here we go.” When he looked up, he had three Xbox games. “I believe Vincent asked me for these.”

In the blink of an eye, Vincent was at Santa’s knee. “Awesome!” Excitement all over his face, he hugged the games. “Thank you. They’re just what I wanted.”

Santa fumbled in his bag again, then looked up at Joseph. “Come over here so I can give you your presents.”

Joseph headed toward Santa at the speed of a turtle, stopping before he got too close.

Out came a tool kit. “I believe you wanted some big boy tools. Is that right?”

Joseph slowly nodded. “Yes,” he whispered.

Santa unzipped the kit, pulled out two screwdrivers, a hammer, pliers, and a wrench. “These are real tools for doing real jobs. Are you going to do real jobs?”

Joseph’s head bobbed up and down.

He reached into his bag again. “Well, if you’re going to do real jobs, you need safety equipment too.” Smiling, he held up a bright yellow Bob the Builder hardhat, safety glasses, and a tool belt.

The corners of Joseph’s mouth curled up enough to fill a momma with joy. Moving closer, he gingerly took the treasures.

Santa opened the bag again. “Let’s see what else I have.”

A tilt of the head, a step closer, and a timid voice. “Did you get what I wanted most?”

“Hmmm.” Santa again dug in his bag. “I’m sure it’s in here...”

Up on his tippy-toes, Joseph leaned forward.

“Ah, here it is.”

Tiny hands clasped together. “What is it?”

Santa pulled out the box, pushed his glasses in place, and read. “A sword and gun in one... lights up... makes real sword sounds...” He looked up. “Is this what you wanted?”

Unable to contain himself any longer, my sweet son jumped up and down. “That’s it! That’s it! Thank you!”

“Well, come and get it, boy.”

All traces of fear gone, Joseph skipped the last few feet to Santa and took the box. “Thank you, thank you!” His face beamed with joy. “Look, Mommy!”

Warm elation flooded my heart. “Yes, baby. Very cool.”

“Well,” Santa said, “I have one more thing.”

Curiosity on his face, Joseph looked at him. “What is it?”

With magician-like movements, he displayed a leather belt. “A holster.”

“Wow!” He took the belt and admired it, his smile reaching his eyes. He hugged the sword and looked at Santa. “Thank you.”

Santa grinned. “You bet.” He stood and pointed at my boys. “You two be sure to stay on the nice list, okay?”

“Okay,” they responded.

Santa threw his bag over his shoulder. “I best be going.” As he left, he turned and said, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”

And then he was gone.

Joseph ran to my side and wrapped his arms around me. “I can’t believe I met Santa!”

Taking him in my arms, I stroked his head. “You’re a very lucky boy.”

Joseph turned his sword on and swung it around, lights dancing in rhythm with the movements. He gathered his presents together and took a protective stance, slicing the air with his weapon as if guarding his spoils. “Can I play with my new stuff?”

“Just until Uncle Garry gets here. He should be...”

“Hey, everyone.” Garry stood in the doorway, stomping snow off his boots. He crinkled his white eyebrows as he asked, “Did I miss anything?”

~Leigh Ann Bryant

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