At the end of the long hallway just outside our parents’ bedroom was the physical reminder to all of us kids that we needed to be good and not bad. With a red and green faceplate, it was the most important light switch in our entire house. And as such, it was used only once each year. It was the Santa Switch.
On Christmas Eve to light the way to our house on Flamingo Street, Dad — and only Dad — turned on the Santa Switch. But it wasn’t always that way.
When we moved into our new house, it was just a regular switch — one I turned on in the middle of the night that first Christmas Eve. So how did that regular switch magically turn into the Santa Switch? Keep reading, Dear Reader, you’ll soon see the light.
Christmas Eve was the one night of the year our parents didn’t have any problems making us go to bed. But making us actually go to sleep? Now that was a whole different problem.
Just before 8:00 p.m., us five kids, full of energy from our hot cocoa with extra marshmallows, were still lying wide awake in bed waiting for Santa to come down our chimney.
By 10:00 p.m., Dad had already brokered a cease-fire of two pillow fights, foiled a water balloon sneak attack, and caught us in the middle of our epic underwear raid. With threats that Santa wasn’t going to come if we didn’t go to sleep, we were sent back to our beds.
An hour later, hearing something outside, I rolled out of bed and slowly crept over to the sliding glass door. Looking out the frosted glass, I heard nothing. I slid open the door a little.
Suddenly, an artic blast blew the drapes up into the air as snow drifted in. During our inside pillow fights, water balloon attack, and underwear raid, it had been snowing outside. Our entire yard was now a fluffy white blanket of snow.
But it wasn’t what I saw that got me excited; it was what I heard. The sound of Santa’s sleigh landing on our roof! I quickly ran over and jumped on Twin Brother Mark. “Wake up! Wake up! It’s Santa!
Sliding the door open, we stepped from the warmth of our bedroom into what seemed like the North Pole. Quickly retreating, we threw on bathrobes and slipped on fuzzy slippers before braving the polar cold once more. Outside we were freezing, but actually spotting Santa and Rudolf would be worth it.
Standing on the porch, me in my bunny slippers, and Mark in his cat slippers … we held our breath and listened. Another blast of frigid air brought with it a hearty “Ho, ho, ho,” drifting down from our rooftop. It was Santa!
The light from the porch tried feebly to overcome the darkness but failed just feet out from our porch. More light was needed if we were gonna actually “see” Santa and not just hear him.
Running back inside, I dashed down the hallway and turned on the switch next to our parent’s bedroom door. Four huge spotlights, one on each corner of the house, chased away the darkness from our front and back yards. Instantly, a brilliant light bounced off the white snow. For a moment, the light blinded Mark and me.
Guess Santa was also blinded ‘cause that’s when we heard him yelling as he fell off our roof – landing with and agonizing heavy thud into thorny bushes. We exchanged horrifying looks, ran back inside and dove under our covers to hide. We had done the unthinkable. We had just killed Santa!
In the morning, we both wondered the same thing. Had Santa delivered our presents before he took that dive off our roof? We scurried down the hallway to the living room to see if there were any presents under our tree.
A quick look revealed that tons of presents were there! Mom was also there using a poker to stir logs in the fire. Dad sat next to it, slowly rocking in his chair, sipping a cup of hot cocoa … with his right arm in a sling and Band-Aids on his face.
When asked what had happened, he simply smiled and then warned us that it is easy to lose your footing in the snow and we should be extra careful when we went out after breakfast.
The next day, he painted the faceplate outside their bedroom door red and green calling it the Santa Switch. From that day forward, it was only switched on by our dad and only used on Christmas Eve to light Santa’s way to our house.
From The Wife and me, here’s wishing you and your family a very merry Christmas. And on Christmas Eve remember to keep those outside lights on for Santa.
[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog: storiesbyrick.wordpress.com.]