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. gingerfightback December 23, 2013 / 11:20 pm

    The simple solution is never to,have a bath again. I like your fire department – . Merry Christmas. Debra!

    • Three Well Beings December 26, 2013 / 6:07 pm

      I hope you had a lovely Christmas, Jim. The last of our house guests left for home this afternoon, and now I’m ready to sit and enjoy some reading tonight. I missed my blogging friends! 🙂

      • gingerfightback December 26, 2013 / 11:57 pm

        We did thanks Debra – Ma Fightback bought me a new mobile phone so I can now figure out how it works! Now old friends replace the family as visitors and thenScotland for the New Year!

  2. thefolia December 23, 2013 / 11:47 pm

    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.

    • Three Well Beings December 26, 2013 / 6:06 pm

      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

  3. Cathy December 24, 2013 / 12:21 am

    Have a wonderful Christmas Debra, and enjoy the holidays with precious family! xx

    • Three Well Beings December 26, 2013 / 6:04 pm

      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

  4. Andrea December 24, 2013 / 1:17 am


    • Three Well Beings December 26, 2013 / 6:01 pm

      Thank you, Andrea! I hope your Christmas was lovely. And now let me wish you a very Happy New Year! ox

  5. bulldog December 24, 2013 / 1:20 am

    A very Merry Christmas to you and yours Debra and may the New Year see you fighting fit to continue with your wonderful posts…

    • Three Well Beings December 26, 2013 / 6:00 pm

      Thank you for the lovely New Years wishes as we transition into 2014! I hope the new year brings you wonderful health and renewed energy for all that is to come–and I’m expecting good things. 🙂

  6. Chatter Master December 24, 2013 / 2:28 am

    A very Merry Christmas Debra, to you and all you love and hold dear.

    • Three Well Beings December 26, 2013 / 5:59 pm

      I hope you’ve had a wonderful Christmas, Colleen. Now as we head into 2014 we can change our focus towards the future. I am looking forward to that, I think, but I’d like it to transition slowly…I’m a little tired. LOL!

      • Chatter Master December 26, 2013 / 7:35 pm

        🙂 I’m glad it was so wonderful! I shall enjoy the future gazing with you. 🙂

  7. speccy December 24, 2013 / 3:08 am

    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

    • Three Well Beings December 26, 2013 / 5:58 pm

      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

  8. Perpetua December 24, 2013 / 4:46 am

    Oh,I did enjoy this Debra. 🙂 Birthday greetings to your Christmas Eve baby and warmest Christmas wishes to you and Jay, my friend.

    • Three Well Beings December 26, 2013 / 5:56 pm

      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!

    • Three Well Beings December 26, 2013 / 5:55 pm

      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! 🙂

      • aFrankAngle December 26, 2013 / 6:05 pm

        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.

        • Three Well Beings December 26, 2013 / 6:24 pm

          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! 🙂

          • aFrankAngle December 26, 2013 / 6:28 pm

            Thanks for the warm thoughts. Our Christmas spirit was definitely dampened, but not killed.

  9. katecrimmins December 24, 2013 / 7:19 am

    Our fire department just did that over the weekend. We don’t have children here but somehow my husband got a candy cane. Hope you have a great holiday with your family.

  10. Kristy December 24, 2013 / 7:47 am

    Merry Christmas!!! Here’s to making new and wonderful lasting memories. 🙂

    • Three Well Beings December 26, 2013 / 5:44 pm

      I am all for new memories, Kristy. I hope your Christmas was wonderful and that for the children, absolutely magical! A new year is almost upon us! Wishing you a wonderful 2014. 🙂

  11. Andra Watkins December 24, 2013 / 7:56 am

    This is such a fun tradition. I love it. Happy Birthday to your daughter, and Merry, Merry Christmas to you and Jay.

    • Three Well Beings December 26, 2013 / 5:43 pm

      You are always so thoughtful, Andra. Thank you! I hope your Christmas has been magical in the cold, but beautiful North. 🙂

  12. megtraveling December 24, 2013 / 7:59 am

    Christmas has some wonderful and fun memories for you! The Dickens quote is very sweet… Merry Christmas Debra!

    • Three Well Beings December 26, 2013 / 5:43 pm

      I hope your Christmas was memorable in all the right ways, Meg. Now we can look forward to the travels and excitement of 2014. 🙂

  13. Anonymous December 24, 2013 / 8:05 am

    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!

    • Three Well Beings December 26, 2013 / 5:42 pm

      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

  14. Grannymar December 24, 2013 / 9:09 am

    Great story, enjoy the festivities and see you on the other side!

    • Three Well Beings December 26, 2013 / 5:37 pm

      We made it to the other side, Marie. 🙂 I hope you’ve done well! Now we’re headed into the new year, and let me wish you the very best as we change to new calendars. 🙂 oxo

      • Grannymar December 27, 2013 / 2:23 am

        Me too. High winds up to 80 mph returned last night and are still going strong this morning. I am well battened down, safe and warm right now.

        Roll on 2014!

  15. dandyknife December 24, 2013 / 10:41 am

    Merry, happy, joyeux, feliz everything, Debra! See you after all the commotion settles down.

    • Three Well Beings December 26, 2013 / 5:35 pm

      Thank you for al the “merries,” Dandy. The commotion has definitely settled down, and now I’m in a little puddle trying to get going again. 🙂

  16. terri December 24, 2013 / 1:29 pm

    Happy Birthday to your “Live Stocking Stuffer’,
    and Merry Christmas to you All, and Zena and Darwin!

    • Three Well Beings December 26, 2013 / 5:34 pm

      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! 🙂

  17. ChgoJohn December 25, 2013 / 4:57 am

    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.

    • Three Well Beings December 26, 2013 / 5:23 pm

      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. 🙂

  18. Tom McCubbin December 25, 2013 / 8:19 am

    Merry Christmas, Debra!

  19. kateshrewsday December 25, 2013 / 10:51 am

    That must have been quite a Christmas, Debra, spending it in hospital having a child. Hope you had a wonderful day with your family, Debra. Merry Christmas to you.

    • Three Well Beings December 26, 2013 / 5:20 pm

      We had a lovely Christmas, Kate, and I certainly hope that you did also. Now let me wish you a happy new year…it’s almost time to turn that calendar page, isn’t it! ox

  20. hotlyspiced December 25, 2013 / 2:43 pm

    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

    • Three Well Beings December 26, 2013 / 5:18 pm

      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

  21. rommel December 25, 2013 / 5:50 pm

    Merry Christmas,Debra. Those lights are aplenty. Really cool!

    • Three Well Beings December 26, 2013 / 5:15 pm

      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! 🙂

  22. nrhatch December 26, 2013 / 8:26 am

    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!

    • Three Well Beings December 26, 2013 / 5:14 pm

      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!

  23. Tammy December 26, 2013 / 5:38 pm

    Great stories but the hospital and the bath one. Hope you had a terrific Christmas.

    • Three Well Beings December 26, 2013 / 6:25 pm

      We did enjoy our Christmas, Tammy! I hope you did, too! Now we’re on to a new year…hard to believe how quickly a new one rolls around. 🙂

  24. lifeonthecutoff December 26, 2013 / 6:29 pm

    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.

  25. Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen December 29, 2013 / 8:14 pm

    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

  26. Amy December 31, 2013 / 7:38 am

    Love this post! Btw, the like is working currently on my computer…

  27. triciabertram January 3, 2014 / 4:30 pm

    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

    • Three Well Beings January 5, 2014 / 8:00 pm

      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

  28. Deb Wilden January 9, 2014 / 5:39 pm

    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

    • Three Well Beings January 10, 2014 / 7:33 pm

      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

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