When I was a little girl, I was afraid of men. It just seemed like they were all big, rowdy and loud whereas I was small, painfully shy and quiet. One Christmas when I was about ten or eleven, my parents announced that they were going to take me to see Santa Claus. Naturally, I was apprehensive because he's a big guy and has a very loud booming voice, not to mention the fact that this man was the sole determiner of whether there'd be presents under the tree for me.
I spent all week worrying and trying to find a way out of going to see him; but it seemed so important to my parents that I didn't have the heart to try out any of the plans I had conceived. My classmates at St. Bartholomew School had been preparing to make their first confession so I began running through a list of what I felt had been my sins and trying to rate them according to how bad I thought they were. I came to the conclusion that I didn't know enough about sin to judge for myself, and was probably too lenient in any event, due to the toy fever that racked my brain. When that faithful Saturday morning came, I decided to affect my best appearance. I wore a white lace dress with a yellow satin lining and a wide yellow ribbon belt that I tied into a big bow on my right hip. My long straight hair was brushed until it shone. I even used mouthwash just in case.
At the store, the line was rather lengthy. I had hopes that Santa would have to go to the bathroom or on a lunch break so that I could escape the interview, even an elf emergency at the toy shop would help. I had no such luck and soon reached the front of the line. The fact that many children were crying did nothing to allay my fears. God was more forgiving than this old man from the North Pole. I thought a prayer might help but was stunned out of it as the kid presently seated on Santa’s knee burst into tears. Then it dawned on me that Santa was one of God's helpers that explained how he was able to know everything about us.
The only thing that made sense was that he was Saint Peter, the guardian of the gates of Heaven. That was why we only saw him once a year! I didn't want to know if I was damned to Hell this early in life, waiting until death was better, or know whether I was doomed to a legion of toyless Christmases yet to come, better to find a barren tree skirt year after year. At least, I could always hope to improve enough to receive a small gift. About that time my turn came and Santa belted out a loud, "HO! HO! HO!" That was enough; I broke under the strain and took off in the opposite direction.
Then I heard Santa say to my retreating back, "Come here Kelly, where you goin'?"
I stopped dead in my tracks rounded on my parents and gave them the dirtiest look a little girl could muster, "That's not Santa Claus, that's grandpa!"
Copyright 2000 Kelly Steed All Rights Reserved.