First chapter of My Twelfth Christmas

My Sons

It was a cold day in early December. I hugged my sweater closer to myself and glanced out the window. Snow flurries drifted by, hinting of heavier snow to come. I walked to the entrance of the living room. A fire burning in the fireplace warmed the room and my three boys were sitting in front of it. The two older ones were having an earnest conversation with the youngest. Something they said caught my attention.
            “Of course he’s real! Do you think Mom and Dad give us all those presents?” It was Brad, the oldest.
            “Yeah, just think how stingy they are with our allowance, and how hard it is to get them to buy us anything.” That was Tony, the middle child. “Then you’ll realize that it has to be Santa. Mom and Dad would never go and get us a big pile of toys and candy and stuff.”
            I knew at once what was going on. The two older boys were trying to convince my youngest son that Santa Claus was real. The realization warmed me from the inside. We all want our children to hold onto that magical belief for as long as possible. But the inevitable happens and somehow they find out. In my family, my oldest sons were trying to keep that spark alive in my youngest. I was extremely proud.
            “But my friend Jason at school said that he saw his parents putting things around the tree and in the stockings and stuff,” my youngest, Taylor.
            “Well sometimes when Santa is running late he asks the parents if they’ll help out. He brings the stuff, downs the cookies and the milk, and then says, ‘Could you help me out and spread these presents out nice and put all this candy and stuff in the stockings,’ and then takes off to the next house,”  Tony again.
            I wanted to stand there and listen unnoticed but I was given away by the dog, who at that moment came crashing through the dog door and nearly knocked me over in his drive to get the fireplace.
            Taylor saw me and called out, “Mom, I know that you and Dad are really Santa Claus. Tell Brad and Tony!”
            Three faces stared deer-like at me. There was something about their look. It was in their eyes. Fear. Fear that I would actually say it; that the next words from my mouth would bluntly validate what they knew had to be true.
            “Did I ever tell you about my twelfth Christmas?” I asked.
            “What?” they said in unison.
            “Did I ever tell you about my twelfth Christmas?”
            Mom, tell them about Santa!” Taylor whined, which surprised me because he still looked scared that I actually would.
            “To understand what I know about Santa, I have to tell you about my twelfth Christmas.” I sat down on the couch and they scrambled up off of the floor to join me. “Something very special happened on Christmas when I was eleven years old.”
Taylor looked at me. “But I thought you said it was your twelfth Christmas.”
Tony stuck his elbow in Taylor’s ribs. “Duh, you have to count the Christmas before you’re one.”
“Oh,” Taylor said, rubbing his ribs.
I ran my fingers through Taylor’s thick hair, which was dark, like my own. “Like I said, something very special happened on Christmas when I was eleven years old.”
            “What?” they asked, and that was my opening.
            “Well, sit back and make yourselves comfortable, because it’s a long story, and I’ll tell you.”