The Year I saw Santa
Written By: Amanda Luciano
I still remember the first Christmas that it happened. I had thought, this is amazing! I knew he was real! I was 5 years old and I had a habit of having trouble staying asleep on Christmas Eve. I shared a room with my little sister, she got the top bunk because she was smaller, despite the fit i threw about being older and deserving the choice.
The bottom bunk had its perks though, easier to sneak out of bed being at the top of the list.
It was a particularly chilly evening when i decided to sneak out to peak at the Christmas tree, so i wrapped my favorite blue blanket around me and tip toed out of the room. Thankfully our room was on the ground floor as was the living room. The second floor consisted solely of our parents room and the stairs creaked horribly so i would know if i needed to bolt or not.
I slipped down the hallway and peeked my head around the corner, there was that glorious Christmas tree. In my adolescence i understood why there were songs written about it, it was a beautiful sight to see. The only light in the room came from the glittering colored lights on the tree and i was able to make out the gifts around the base, new ones that weren't there when i had gone to bed that night. My mother was always very creative in her display of gifts around the tree and she made sure to keep at least half of them hidden until we went to sleep on Christmas Eve. It did wonders for the wow factor on Christmas morning.
This year there was a note in the branches of the tree with my name on it. I could only imagine what secrets it held. My mind was reeling. I excitedly dropped my blanket at the edge of the hallway and skipped closer to the tree to continue examining. Mountains of gifts were before me and I thought in that moment that I wouldn't be able to contain myself. I certainly wasn't sleeping tonight, i would spend the next several hours staring at the bars above my bunk bed guessing to myself about the different toys I might have in the morning.
It was in that moment of pure joy that i caught something in the corner of my eye. I spun around to look but there was nothing there. I noticed then that my blanket was not where i had dropped it and I started to worry that I might have set it down somewhere that would give my late night rendezvous away.
I frantically started to survey the area, where was it? It wasn't anywhere among the gifts and I was careful not to touch anything. I started to walk towards the hallway and as I rounded the corner I almost screamed.
In front of me, in a Red velvet suit, was a man. "Santa?" I whispered.
The man was holding my blanket but I wasn't sure what he was doing in my hallway. 5 year old me did the only logical thing i could think of. "Santa, the tree is this way!" I pointed excitedly.
He didn't move. He stared at me for a long moment and I began to think about the horror stories I had heard about making the naughty list. I immediately began to cower. Santa knelt down to my level and as I looked at him i noticed that his eyes seemed very dark and his cheeks were anything but rosy. He was pale and looked sick. His beard was dark and patchy, nothing like the photos i had seen of him before this moment.
He reached his arms out and wrapped my blanket tightly around me. He pulled me in closer then and inhaled deeply.
"Good girls are asleep when Santa comes, are you a good girl?" He whispered in my ear.
I sat there with my mouth open, tears welling in my eyes. I wanted to be a good girl.
Santa ran his fingers through my hair and tugged at it just hard enough to elicit a wince from me. "Stay quiet." He grunted.
Tears started to roll down my cheeks and i was suddenly over come with fear. Santa picked me up then and held me closer. "Do you want to come with me to visit other good boys and girls?" His breath was hot and i struggled to find my voice.
My hesitance to answer had visibly angered him. I started to panic then and realized i needed a way out. My little sister wouldn't be much help here and I was more worried about her being safe right now. I needed my Dad. If i screamed everyone would hear me. I just needed to work up the courage.
Santa started to move his hands inside my blanket and i started to shake. This was it. I mustered the loudest scream I could and almost immediately regretted it.
Santa threw me on the ground, stripping me of my blanket. My Frosty the snowman PJ's disheveled. "I'll come back for you." He said sternly.
My parents came flying around the corner of the hallway and grabbed me up. My mother scanned my face with her hands, checking to make sure everything was as she left it. My father ran down the hallway flipping on lights and yelling bad words.
"He took my blanket." I managed to cry out.
My mother held me while my father called the police.
That was the first time I saw Santa.
Nearly every Christmas after I haven't been able to sleep, just a pile of nerves. Up until a couple years ago when I married my husband. He made me feel safe and some of the joy I had once felt about Christmas was returning to me. I was very excited to put on a big Christmas for our daughter this year, much like my mother had done when I was a child.
I spent hours wrapping carefully and placing gifts nicely under and around the tree. This was almost an art form and I was so pleased with myself for putting out such a great display on my first try. I don't usually toot my own horn but I earned it. It took me a long time to be excited about Christmas again and this was going to be a great day.
I fell asleep on Christmas Eve with a smile on my face.
I woke up to a scream.
I barely caught up to my husband rushing out of the bedroom door to find my daughter just outside our door in the hallway. A crumpled mess of tears, I couldn't make out anything she was saying, I just surveyed her frantically to make sure she was okay.
And then i caught a glimpse of blue in the corner of my eye.
Just down the hallway was my favorite blue blanket.
He came back.