Christmas is acoming

I remember one very special Christmas. My daughter was in the first grade and when Christmas rolled around she told me in her very grown up BIG school voice that one of the kids in her class told her"Santa is not real, just made up and really it was mommy and daddy that brought the presents."

We were going away over Christmas, visiting relatives and so would not be home for the normal Christmas morning rituals. We still made the trips to the stores, she bought presents for her aunts and uncles and friends and cousins and for mommy but it was a secret and I had to promise not to tell. Then we had weeks of secret gatherings in the bedroom when daddy had to stay out or mommy had to stay out and the bright packages were carried in and placed beneath the tree and the lights reflected off the paper and danced across the ribbons.

As we got ready for the trip I had her gather the presents from under the tree and load them into the car. I made her go back and check to make sure we got everything, to make sure all the lights were out except for the hall light, check the other doors to make sure they were locked and gave her the keys to lock the front door. Off we drove to visit family in the mountains and maybe even see snow.

Christmas morning came and she rushed to see her presents, the "My Size Barbie" She had wanted ALL HER LIFE from Mom and Dad, some dress up clothes from her aunts, a glitter makeup kit Mommy would never let her have but that Daddy got for her and Cinderella's Glass slippers that Daddy said she was too young to wear but Mommy said made her look tall.

Finally there was nothing left under the tree but one envelope, addressed to her. In it was a letter from Santa Claus. He wrote that he did not know she was going to be away and had already left her present at her house under the tree. It would be there for her when she got home.

The next few days were amazing. A million questions about the letter and Santa and what it might be and how could Santa get in and ... where all I could say was "I don't know how, but I'm sure if he said it he will do it." The trip home seemed to take forever and when we pulled into the driveway, she rushed to peek in the window. There, around the tree, were three grownup bikes, a Blue one for Daddy, a Green one for Mommy and a bright red bike with no training wheels and hand brakes and a shifter and new helmets and knee pads and it was all there and "Where is the key Daddy? Hurry, hurry."

Kids grow a bunch between first and second grade and as the next Christmas rolled around, my much older now daughter plopped in my lap and asked "How did you do that last year?"

I explained how I had the neighbors put the bikes in after we left and that one of her aunts wrote the letter and asked her if she remembered how good it felt?

She did. And she hugged me.

Then she asked, "Am I old enough yet to be a Santa for some little kids?"

She was. And she did. And like every Santa before her she finally understood that it is not getting presents that is the real gift, but giving them.