Wednesday, December 7, 2011



One of the fun things about vacations when I was a kid...
was waiting for the mailman.

During Christmas break,
I'd peek out of the living room window
until I could pop the door open as the man started up the walk.
If the cards were to "the family"
I could rip them open on the spot as long as I didn't ruin the return address.
Sometimes they even had checks inside!
Whaaa Hoo!

And on Christmas Eve,
I got to give the mail man his gift of cookies!
I also waited for the garbage men at 6:00 AM to give them theirs.
What a great season!

One special envelope arrived with MY actual name on it.
I didn't even wait to go inside to the warm to open it.
There on the porch... my breath steaming...
I looked at the card that read
"You are invited!"
I knew those words...
thanks to children's birthday parties and baby showers.

When I opened the card there were words I didn't know.
But one biggie that I did know....
had to mean something special and wonderful...
because it was signed
It was one of many, many cards printed in a mass mailing.
That part I did not understand at all.
What I saw was that Santa, himself, had invited me to a party!

I was chattering so much that mother took the card
that I was waving frantically in her face as I begged to go.
She looked at me and smiled.
Moments later... Gregory was pounding on our door.
An invitation like my own clutched in his grubby hand.
The only thing possibly better than going to a party with Santa...
was going to it with my very best ever in the whole world friend, Gregory!

Gregory's mother, Jimmy was standing behind him.
(Yes, you read that right, HER name was Jimmy.  She was not a member of a new age family.)
Jimmy and my mother were friends, as well as next door neighbors.
They were not as thrilled as we were,
but given our excitement,
how could they say no?

What we were actually invited to,
mother later explained,
was "Breakfast With Santa".
To my kid head, that was the ultimate invitation.
To mother and Jimmy,
it was a clever advertising scheme for a local mall...
that they would have to pay for attending.

I had absolutely no clue about that.
My head was instantly filled with ideas
of what that would be like...
to sit next to Santa himself.
"Please pass the pancakes Santa!"
Maybe Mrs. Clause would cut them up for me.
Would he make the little German pancakes that GG made?
Those were extra good!

The closer the day came the bigger my dreams in my head.
Maybe I could pet a reindeer or ride in the sleigh!
How many elf would be there?
I was so wound up that I did not sleep a wink the night before.
It was almost too good to be true.
When I'd told Cindy A about it,
she'd said her mother said it wasn't real.
She was just  jealous!

I put on my best Sunday dress and shoes... and matching socks.
I let my mother put dippy-do on the stubborn cow lick I had in the back of my pixie cut.
It was time to go and meet the jolly old elf!

We walked down into a part of the mall...
an open mall, not the closed in ones that we have now...
that I had never seen,
in the basement of the largest department store.
Much to my surprise, there were tons of children and mothers.
I was expecting something a bit more cozy and small.
Jimmy sat on the outside of Gregory and mother sat on the outside of me.
Boy oh boy this was gonna be good!

Waitresses dressed like elves brought us trays that looked suspiciously like school lunch trays.
"Elves!" chirped Gregory.
"Those aren't elves... they're too tall." I explained.
"The elves are busy making toys..." said Jimmy.
Gregory and I liked that explanation.
Mother handed the elf a twenty dollar bill.

I looked at my tray...
a lump of scrambled eggs, one sausage, a half a piece of toast and a carton of milk.
No German pancakes.
Where was Santa?
Where was Mrs. Claus?
"Isn't this fun?" asked Mother.
"Eat kids... you don't want to miss Santa!" said Jimmy.

We could miss Santa?
Gregory and I raced to see who could finish first.
It seemed a bit rude to eat without Santa seated, but...
A kid down the table laughed milk out of his nose.
That set a bunch of us giggling.
Oh boy oh boy.

We fidgeted for a time after the trays were taken away.
Then Jimmy stood up and demanded that we "Come on!"
A line had begun to form up the side of the big room.
This had to be it!
Santa would be at the other end of the line.
We ran ahead...
To wait what seemed like ages.

Another woman dressed as an elf brought a clip board by.
One by one, she spoke to adults with children.
Some of the kids looked happy,
others looked less than happy with what she had to say.
Some mothers drug children away protesting.

Now that was odd.
My fast eating began to make my stomach feel funny.
When the "elf" arrived, she asked if we would be ordering photos with Santa.
Our moms looked at each other.
"I'd like to pay for them Jimmy... Our Christmas gift." my mother said quietly.
"You can get one pack and have both children pose together."
"That would be fine." Mother answered and passed more money over.

Jimmy's husband had recently run off with her sister to points unknown...
money was tight in her big household of mom and 6 kids.

Gregory and I were thrilled.
Now we would have documentation of our good fortune to be invited to Santa's party.
Let's see Cindy A poo-poo that!
Eventually the line wound down and we found ourselves at the end.
Another elf leaned toward Santa and said "Two".
Santa sighed and made room for both of us.

His leg was bony and his belly was soft.
Well, takes all types.
Gregory launched into telling him everything he wanted for Christmas.
As soon as he finished I had only one thing to say...
"I want a Chatty Baby!"
Santa nodded.
"Please." I added as an after thought.
"Look at the camera and smile!"  said Santa cheerfully.

The flash went off and Santa gave us each a gentle shove and a candy cane.
The next thing we knew...
our mothers had our hands in a clamp and we were out of there.
Off for an agonizing tour of stores while mothers shopped slowly.
We did our best to endure that...
by dodging in and out of the racks of clothes
or sliding down the shoe guy's stools.

On the trip home Jimmy asked
"Did you guys have fun meeting Santa?"
Gregory immediately piped up his happy response.
"Rebecca?  Jimmy asked you a question."
"I thought we were going to eat with Santa."
I said after a moment of thought.
"But yeah, it was fun."
The mothers thought that was funny.

A week or so later Mother came home from shopping with the photo package.
There we were... Gregory and I, sitting on Santa's opposite knees.
Gregory with his crooked smile, cleaner than I was used to seeing him.
Me with my cow lick sticking up in back...
somethings don't change.
We looked very happy.

Gregory and Jimmy came right over to get their half of the package.
Gregory looked at it and grinned.
"You know what I like best?"
I shook my head "no".
"We got to see Santa together."

Gregory was the best ever in the whole wide world friend.
And he was right.


  1. What a great memory. Do you keep up with Gregory now?

  2. secret agent woman- Unfortunately the last time I saw Gregory was in the mid 1970s, just before I moved out of state. But I've been thinking of looking for him on FB.

  3. Another lovely tale. But, after the last, I was thinking this was going in another direction after the eggs began to make your stomach feel funny.

    I'm kind of glad that wasn't the story after all.

  4. Cricket- Ha! Nope. I often get a nervous stomach when I am excited or dreading something. It generally leads to unwelcome farts if anything and has made for some interesting doctor's visits.

  5. Oh, I so needed that laugh (reading your last comment!). What a nice story, and what a nice mom.