41: A Little Help for Santa

41: A Little Help for Santa

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

A Little Help for Santa

When I approach a child, he inspires in me two sentiments; tenderness for what he is, and respect for what he may become.

~Louis Pasteur

It was Christmas Eve, and we’d just returned from the late church service with a couple of very tired little boys. My husband Tim and I tucked ten-year-old Sean and four-year-old Drew into their beds and smiled at their excited chatter about what might be under the tree in the morning.

“It won’t be long now!” Sean assured his brother.

“I just know Santa will bring lots of fun stuff!” Drew beamed.

Soon, though, their sleepiness triumphed, and yawns gave way to peaceful deep breathing as they drifted off to sleep.

As Tim began to put together a bike, I surveyed the house. The tree was beautiful, twinkling with a thousand white lights and filled with the colorful ornaments our sons had made through the years. I was so sentimental I couldn’t bear to part with a single one. Every room held decorations — some new, most handed down from both sides of the family, each one with its own story and memory. The carols played on the stereo, the scent of the sugar cookies the boys and I had made earlier in the day still lingered, and the moonlight shining through the windows showed me that snow was beginning to fall. I thought about how blessed we were. The whole scene was picture perfect — truly like a Norman Rockwell painting.

It was time to make sure the stockings were ready. On Christmas morning the boys always woke so early, popping out of bed like toast from a toaster. They were allowed to rush downstairs and look in their stockings right away. As they read books, sorted through the treats and played with the small toys Santa always left there, Tim and I would get up and make our way downstairs after we heard the commotion. It allowed for a more leisurely start to Christmas morning for us and some brotherly bonding time for the boys. And it made it easier for the boys to wait to open the gifts under the tree until after we had breakfast.

As I laid my stocking aside so I could fix its hook on the mantel, I heard Tim call for my help. I rushed to lend him a hand in the living room.

“Lots of assembly required,” he groaned. “Will you hold this for me, Deb, while I tighten this thing and try to figure out that thing?”

“Gladly,” I smiled.

Together we figured out the directions, and he put the finishing touches on the bike. Exhausted, we headed off to bed.

The sounds of happy kids woke us at six, and we joined the boys in the family room. They had emptied their stockings, and the floor was already covered with the surprises.

“Mommy, look what Santa brought me!” Drew was thrilled with the latest book in the series he enjoyed so much.

“I love this game, Mom and Dad,” Sean smiled.

“Let’s see what you got, Dad,” Sean said as he handed Tim his stocking.

I sat there taking it all in, thoroughly enjoying the laughter and excitement.

“Okay, Mommy, it’s your turn!” Drew said.

Suddenly, it hit me. I had left my stocking on the bookcase beside the fireplace when Tim had called me to help with the bike. I had meant to return, but was so tired I had forgotten. My stocking would be empty, since it had not been hung. Sean was older and would understand what happened, but Drew would be so disappointed that Santa had missed my stocking.

“Oh, that’s okay,” I said hurriedly. “I’ll just wait and open my stocking after breakfast.”

“No, Mommy, now,” Drew insisted.

I looked at Tim in dismay. He was just perplexed at my expression.

Drew plopped the stocking into my hands, and I was surprised to feel that it was heavy. Oh, good, I thought, my stocking hadn’t been missed. I glanced at Tim with a look of relief on my face. But he just shook his head, still not understanding my reaction.

I reached into the stocking and pulled out the contents. It was a box of candy, Drew’s favorite kind, the box from Santa to Drew that had been in his stocking. My little boy had discovered and peeked into my stocking that morning, and, finding it empty, didn’t want me to be disappointed. He had given up his favorite treat, slipping it instead into my stocking.

“Wow, Mommy, you got a great gift!” Drew exclaimed.

Tears filled my eyes as I pulled both of my sweet sons to me for a big hug. “I sure did,” I said. “I got the best gift there is.”

~Deborah Agler

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