“I have great childhood memories of Christmas with my Norwegian family. The baking, the decorating of the tree, my grandma’s, and our family’s. My aunt and I would decorate my grandma’s tree and everything had to be perfect, the tinsel hung just so, not too many red lights and balls clustered in one place, that sort of thing. It would take us hours before my aunt would stop fussing with it.
But my real favorite childhood Christmas memory isn’t from my childhood, but from my daughter’s. Every year since I was eight years old, my uncle would dress as Santa and make the rounds of children’s homes in the area. The year my daughter turned eight, she was aware there were a lot of Santas out and about and I told her that a lot of nice people liked to dress up as Santa and bring happiness to children. On Christmas Eve, I had to work and I asked my uncle if he and my aunt could babysit her until I got off work at three o’clock. Since she would be at their house all day, it was likely she would guess who he was when he came to see us in the evening, and the plan was I would have dinner warm in the oven for them so after she guessed who Santa was, they could come in and get something to eat since they didn’t really have the time to stop for anything. My uncle’s rounds on Christmas Eve at that point took about seven to eight hours.
My daughter kept asking who was coming to the house dressed as Santa that evening, but I wouldn’t budge; she had to figure it out herself. I picked her up from the uncle after work, we went home and I cooked the whole turkey dinner thing and after dinner, she got to open one present before cleaning up the kitchen. We celebrate on Christmas Eve traditionally. Pretty soon we heard the sound of the sleigh bells and I sent her to answer the door. She came back into the living room with Santa, who sat on the floor and started bringing stuff out of his bag for her. She was in total awe from the moment she heard the bells. He kept talking to her, hoping she would figure out who he was, but to no avail. Finally, he pointed to our big picture window in the living room and told her to stand there and watch and she would see his sleigh fly off into the night. She did as told and I walked him into the kitchen to the door, apologizing that he hadn’t gotten the chance to eat, then said goodbye and went into the living room and sat on the couch. My eight-year-old daughter was still standing in the window, looking for the sleigh to fly by as I sat quietly watching her. Finally, after several minutes had gone by and no sleigh had appeared, I could actually see the spell lifting from her and she turned around, demanding to know who that Santa was. I, of course, told her she would have to wait until next year to figure it out.”