On a dark night almost sixteen years ago, I saw Santa Claus.
No, I don't mean the man at the mall. I mean the real deal. The man who enters houses through the chimneys. The man who spreads the Christmas joy by bringing presents to children all around the world. That Santa.The magic of that moment still hasn't left me. I remember it like yesterday. It's a vivid picture in my mind that replays itself every Christmas season. I remember the rush of excitement- and the following fear.
I was six years old, and it was Christmas Eve (well, technically "Christmas Morning", but it was early and wasn't light outside- so I wasn't allowed to go downstairs to see what Santa had brought yet). I was so excited about what Santa would be bringing that night, and I was having a bit of trouble sleeping. As I woke up for the umpteenth time that night, I heard a sound that can only be described as magical and wonderful. If I listened really close, I could hear the ringing of jingle bells. If I listened really close, it almost sounded as if someone was walking on the roof!
Needless to say, I got a little excited, so I quietly got out of bed and tiptoed towards my bedroom door. I remembered my parents saying something along the lines of "If Santa sees you peeking, he'll take all your presents away", so I knew that I needed to be careful. I carefully peeked my head outside my door and took a peek into the living room. And then- I saw him.
I saw him in all of his splendid, magical glory. As I peeked out my door, I saw a man standing in the hallway admiring his arrangement on the fireplace (and I was really excited when I saw the Doodle Bear that I had been wanting). The man in the red coat captured my complete attention for just a moment- and then it looked like he was moving to leave. So, remembering my parents' warning, I hurried quietly back to my bed. I squeezed my eyes shut as I heard the footsteps and the bells once again. I held my breath as I listened for the quiet "Ho ho ho." But, it was hard to fall back asleep. I was too scared. What if Santa had seen me? What if he took away all my presents? My stomach seemed to be all tied up in knots.
The next thing I remember is someone coming into my room to wake me up. My first thought was full of fear. But, with much excitement, she told me that Santa had visited our home the night before, and had left some presents by the fireplace for ME! I rushed down the stairs to see if she was right- and she was! There was my Doodle Bear (the one that I was so excited about), and lots of treats in my stocking. The cookies that had been left out for Santa were all gone. It was real. Santa had been here. It wasn't a dream- it wasn't a figment of my imagination (I mean, he ate my cookies!). That Christmas morning was full of so much joy, mostly because I was thankful that Santa hadn't taken my toys away.
Now that I'm older, I've been told "things". I've heard the rumors. But, I still believe. I still believe in the magic. I still believe in the joy. On Christmas Eve, I still find myself lying awake at night, straining to hear the beautiful sound of the jingle bells and footsteps. When I have children someday, I can't wait to tell them the story. I can't wait to introduce them to the magic and wonder and awe of Santa. No, I haven't seen him since that night sixteen years ago. But, I won't forget that night. The night that I saw Santa.