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Christmas Memories
by Kaila Chan

It was the Christmas season of 1978, and my 6-year old son and I were living in a small town located in Southern California. After an afternoon of playing with some neighborhood children, my son, Daryl, came home in tears. One of the older neighborhood boys had told him there was no Santa Claus. Daryl was devastated.

"How can there be no Santa Claus?" Daryl asked me. "We have pictures of me and Santa together...remember? We saw Santa at the mall."

I knew I had to do something to restore the joy and magic my son felt at Christmas, so I came up with a plan that I hoped would be the perfect way to bring back the excitement of Christmas to my little boy.

On Christmas Eve, after Daryl had gone to bed, I took a ladder from the garage and climbed up onto the flat roof of our little one-story house. I hung a huge row of sleigh bells around my neck so that my hands would be free to hold the ladder as I climbed up onto the roof. I moved upward slowly and carefully, in an effort to make no noise that might give me away. Once I got on the roof, I stomped all over the rooftop, jangling those bells and "Ho Ho Ho-ing" in my deepest, most manly voice until I was out of breath and quite giddy from trying to keep from giggling. I kept wondering what my son must be thinking as he heard the commotion up on our roof. Suddenly, I noticed a light go on in my son's bedroom. I gingerly laid the bells on the roof top, then quickly and quietly climbed down the ladder and ran into the kitchen. A bit out of breath, I attempted to put the appropriate look on my face and tried to look as composed and nonchalant as I could and waited for Daryl to come looking for me.

As Daryl appeared in the kitchen doorway, looking wide-eyed with wonder, the doorbell rang. We went together to answer the door. I'm sure Daryl must have thought it was Santa at the door, having discovered that we didn't have a chimney or fireplace. But, to my chagrin and great surprise, there stood two policemen! One of my neighbors, coming home from a party, had seen me on the roof but didn't know it was me. She called the police to report seeing an intruder! I was mortified. Obviously, with my son standing next to me, I couldn't tell the policemen that I was the one making all the racket on the roof, and in the confusion of the moment, it never occurred to me to send Daryl to his room.

I stammered as I tried to lamely explain "who" might have been on the roof, and at the same time, nodding my head toward Daryl and winking furiously, hoping the policemen would take the hint that I couldn't really go into details in front of my son. They must have thought I was a wacky 28-year old woman with a terrible tic in one eye, a horrendous speech impediment and serious neck spasm, as I tried to tell them that it was probably just Santa Claus on the roof.

We laugh about it now, but at the time I worried that my good intentions might backfire. However, all's well that ends well. The two police officers finally caught on to my prank and left laughing, and my son returned to his bed that night to dream of sugar plums, visits from Santa and the beauty of Christmas renewed.

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