Santa Claus came to town, and this time we didn’t frighten the children.

Riverside Mission Inn
Some time after Christmas I’ll share the story behind this photo. We enjoyed a family celebration–a pre-birthday gathering for Aimee, at the Mission Inn in Riverside and the annual Festival of Lights. This old hotel has several historical connections I’ll be eager to talk about.
Tonight, my mind is busy.
Forty years ago, in the wee hours of the 24th, I walked into the hospital ready to deliver my first child. Someone at an admitting desk took one look at me and said, “The manger’s at the end of the hall.” A couple of days later Aimee came home tucked into a Christmas stocking, the best Christmas gift I ever received.
Tomorrow we’ll celebrate her birthday, but tonight we enjoyed our annual visit from Santa. 
It’s a delightful annual tradition.
But there was one year…

Our fire department has hosted this annual tradition since I was a child. We typically have advance notice of the night he will be traveling in our sector of the city, but on those nights all we know is to be ready somewhere between 6:30 and 9:30 pm.

On clear nights the sounds of amplified ho-ho-ho accompanied by intermittent wailing from one or more of the accompanying emergency vehicles let’s you know Santa is on his appointed rounds, but the trick is figuring out when he is coming down OUR street.

Many false runs into the cold night air typically indicate that the adults in the household are really just big kids themselves when it comes to Santa!

 One year, while eating our dinner, we almost missed the whole thing. Santa was a little earlier and all of a sudden we realized the sounds were mighty close! We abruptly grabbed the girls from the dinner table and ran outside.  Gratefully, the sights and sounds of an exuberant candy-throwing Santa seemed to offset the trauma of being whisked from the table with little or no warning.

But nothing compares with one year–the year we acted more like children than the children!

Sophia, barely two, was in the bath. Judging by the neighborhood sounds we thought we had plenty of time. But I went to the door and suddenly discovered that Santa was making a fast approach.  I took off running toward the bathroom quite literally screeching “Santa, Santa is coming!” 

Grab that poor wet baby and let’s get moving! With ludicrous antics mirroring TV’s Modern Family our behaviors took on a frantic display that should be reserved only for emergencies—or the Apocalypse!

Sophia was quickly bundled and rushed outdoors, someone else grabbed Karina, and somehow we clumsily  made it to the curb just in time to greet Santa.

It wasn’t until we came back inside that we looked at one another in disbelief! What had come over us? Had we lost our minds?

Well, yes, I think we sort of did just that.  Since that time we make yearly plans to greet Santa as he comes down our street, but we try to hold our enthusiasm in check so as not to scare the children.

Tonight’s Santa appearance was a success. The children were prepared and no one was traumatized. Only Zena  was a bit confused. The noise from the accompanying Christmas light bejeweled police cars and fire engines was a bit confusing–she howled her enthusiasm.

As I now say goodnight I also send my warmest wishes for Christmas and the remaining holiday season. Whether you celebrate in grand style or quietly withdraw into the stillness, it is my hope that however you observe this time of year you will be well and at peace.

And please know that I count you as friends, thanking you for all that you have shared with me this year. I value each encounter.

“Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home! “- Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers, 1836


63 thoughts on “Santa Claus came to town, and this time we didn’t frighten the children.

  1. So enchanting looking! Makes me wish we didn’t stay home to clean the nest today. Thanks for sparking the idea to do something seasonally different and fun! Happy Nesting.

    • It feels good to have Christmas now a happy memory…I am ready to move on to the challenges and blessings of a new year. But while we wait for the 1st, I’m just going to enjoy being home for a few days. 🙂 I hope you had a good Christmas, too Cristina. Having little ones to share with creates a very special Christmas atmosphere, doesn’t it! ox

    • I hope you had a lovely Christmas, Cathy. The last of our house guests left for home this afternoon, and now my evening’s plan is to sit back and enjoy reading. I hope to find out how you and my other blogging friends have spent the last few days–before we move on to a whole new calendar year. LOL! Everything moves so quickly this time of year. I hope you have been enjoying festivities of your own! oxo

  2. I love that story, Debra, and the Modern Family reference has me laughing out loud- I can see the chaos perfectly 🙂
    Have a great time with all your celebrations- we’re all looking forward to reading about them.
    Merry Christmas Debra, Jay and family x

    • We did have a lovely Christmas, Fiona. The last of our houseguests headed home this afternoon and now we’re in the process of recalibrating. I hope that you and your family have also been enjoying the company of grandparents! 🙂 We grandparents sure do enjoy our children and grandchildren. oxo

    • I hope you had a truly lovely and meaningful Christmas, Perpetua. The “last” of our guests left this afternoon and I guess that means we close out our Christmas season. I can use a little quite before we launch into 2014! LOL!

    • I hope you had a lovely and meaningful Christmas, and that now as the new year approaches you’re ready to take on 2014! I have been off-line for a few days, Frank, but I am going to go back and see what I’ve been missing. I had a house full of guests for a few days and couldn’t seem to do much more than conduct traffic. LOL! But now the house has cleared and I have a full week at home before returning to work. Beginning tonight I’m planning to start making some visits. I’ll be stopping by your place soon! 🙂

      • On Christmas Eve the handbell choir played at two services, which also means home-to-home took about 5 hours. Christmas Day was low key as we had my FIL over for chat, playing cards, and a simple dinner.

        At my end, you probably missed my Christmas Eve post of video gifts … and I’ve just started a series of short posts around Exploring … and I imagine you will enjoy these.

        See you when you get around to it.

        • Five hours! That is quite the commitment, Frank, but I think it must be soul-nourishing, too, to contribute so beautifully to a Christmas Eve service. I can also imagine it being a very low key Christmas this year. I really feel for you all…and hope the new year begins with some peace and refreshment after such a long ordeal. I really like the sound of your new post series! You are so creative! 🙂

  3. Merriest of Chistmast to you dear friend. Do you remember? Today is the one, the only Ruth Weber’s birthday! Happy birthday Mom! 🙂 She loved you so. Lisa and I will go out for a beautiful dinner tonight to celebrate her big light. Love you! Hugs to you and John!

    • Hi my dear Pattie. I was so glad to hear from you and thought I’d be able to respond before now…I hope that you and Lisa had a wonderful Christmas Day, and I’m expecting you to have a fantastic 2014. Hope there is a very special reason to celebrate with you. 🙂 Yes, I do remember that dear Ruth’s birthday was the 24th. What a special person she was, and I know you miss her every day. Love you! oxox

    • I hope you had a really lovely Christmas, too, my friend. We did, but it’s time to move forward. Now I am happy to wish the best in the new year…it’s hard for me to believe we’re already heading into 2014! 🙂

  4. What a great tradition! The firemen Santas, not grabbing a child from it’s bath and running headlong into the streets. Too funny, Debra! What we won’t do for the kids at Christmas.
    I hope you and your beautiful family are sharing a wonderful Christmas, Debra.

    • We had a lovely Christmas, John. I certainly hope that you did, too. I’ve been eager to tell you that your name was mentioned during our Christmas gift opening. My family gave me the pasta attachment for my Kitchen Aid and I got so excited. In the process I told them all about your wonderful blog presence and how encouraging you are…and inspiring. Now family expectations are high that I will produce. LOL! I’ll let you know. 🙂

  5. So was Aimee born on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? What a time to be born! I’ve always felt sorry to babies born so close to Christmas as it’s hard to give their special day the attention it would get if not for Christmas! I love your Christmas story – it’s great to act like a child sometimes xx

    • The last of our house guests left a couple of hours ago, Charlie, so now I can get caught up on how you and others have spent your Christmas. Yes Aimee was a Christmas Eve baby. We have always celebrated it fairly “large” to compensate for what would otherwise probably be a day much overlooked due to the busy pre-Christmas day activities. On the other hand, I think she gets more phone calls and remembrances than many of her friends probably do now that they’re older. No one really forgets the date. 🙂 We’ve made it through the Christmas “rush” and now I can wish you a happy new year, my friend. ox

    • I am glad you liked the photo of the lights, Rommel. They were taken in Riverside, CA. I’ll post about the great historic inn that’s central to the city just as soon as I more or less recover from all of the recent Christmas activity! I hope you had a good Christmas, too.! Now I can wish you a happy new year! 🙂

  6. Hahaha! Poor naked wet baby being dragged out of the tub to race outside. 😀

    Hope your Christmas was Merry and Bright! And Happy Birthday to your Christmas Present!

    • I hope you are doing well, too, Nancy! We had a lovely Christmas, but I am able to admit it is fine with me that it is over. LOL! It turns into an event even when we aim at simplicity! 🙂 Now on to the new year!

  7. Finally catching up on blogs, Debra, and smiling with delight at your Christmas adventures, both new and not so new, with the momentous arrival of your Aimee forty years ago. December birthdays are always a challenge, none more so that on Christmas Eve or Day. I would love to hear more about this year’s birthday celebration.

    I hope your Christmas was joyous, filled, I’m sure with family and goodness. We’re a bit slower here this year, enjoying the holiday in special ways and moments.

  8. What delightful stories, Deb. How fantastic to have given birth at such a special time! Aren’t our children just the greatest gift of all? I, too, would be screaming and running out to see Santa, I am impressed that you’ve managed to restrain yourself.. after all.. it is Santa!! 😀 xx

  9. Oh Debra, I did enjoy this. I was once mad about all things Christmasy, these days I find contentment in peaceful stillness. Every year I would read, Twas The Night Before Christmas to Ken, and even at age 26 he sat with his arm around my shoulders and lovingly indulged his, Christmas mad, mother. This year I needed comfort so I retrieved the book from its special place, sat Big Ted on my lap and read the story aloud. I was was sad for a moment and then my heart filled with years of wonderful memories.
    Thank you for all the sharing of stories my dear friend, and thank you for never giving up on me when I sometimes absent myself.
    Hugs from Down-under
    Tricia xx

    • Tricia, what a picture you’ve provided of reading Twas The Night Before Christmas to Big Ted! I so admire how you are willing to embrace the memories even when they are so often deeply painful. How special it is that you had read that poem to Ken for so many years! A very special bond you two had, and you really are quite remarkable, Tricia, in finding the best of the memories and holding onto them when it would be so easy to simply be beaten down. That’s another reason why your most recent criticism from your mother-in-law saddened me so much. I hope that you are finding your way back from that. I am sure you needed as much stillness as you could find this Christmas and I really do thank you for being willing to enter into my joyful Christmas stories. I am glad you can find some humor in them with me! Please don’t ever be at all concerned about the “absenting”–I always hope to hear from you and know that you are well, but I never worry about keeping up! I hope the new year brings you as much peace as possible, and certainly some stronger health and vitality. I’m hopeful this will be a good year for you, my dear friend from Down-under. 🙂 ox

  10. Better late than never Loved your story! I remember as a kid when my Dad went to the store to get soda while he was gone Santa came I just loved it. But when my Dad returned with no soda I finally figured it out! It was quite a wake up call hey you guys are not being honest to me! What was all that about! They said well we just though you enjoyed it so. Well yes but where is my real horse I have been asking for years Santa did not bring so why can’t you! since he isn’t real anyway! Well here I am 60 years old and still waiting for my horse! Ha Merry Christmas and now Happy new Year dear wonderful long time Friend! Much Love and Hugs!

    Deb Wilden

    • That is the funniest of ruses, Deb! Telling you kids he was going out for soda. You were so much younger than your siblings it’s a wonder one of them didn’t “spill the beans” earlier. It’s a very sweet story. Now that you live in CO maybe some day you can still have that horse! LOL! Happiest of new years to you, too! I miss you! ox

  11. Pingback: Ho! Ho! Ho! | breathelighter

  12. Pingback: What a backyard visitor says to me about the new year – breathelighter

I always enjoy hearing from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.