Staying up on Christmas Eve to catch Santa coming down the chimney and putting gifts under the tree is something kids have tried ever since there’s been a Santa. Growing up back on Flamingo Street, we were no different. My brothers, The Sister and I tried many times, but while they always fell asleep and missed the big man, I saw Santa not once but twice … well, almost.
The first time I almost saw Santa was at midnight on Christmas Eve the year Twin Brother Mark and I turned 6. Christmas Eve morning Mom helped us bake two dozen chocolate chip cookies for Santa. (Dad said they were Santa’s favorite)
Unfortunately, by that night, a dozen of them had somehow disappeared. At bedtime as she left the cookies out for Santa on the fireplace hearth, Mom assured us it would be enough. Everyone went to bed and fell sleep except me.
After goodnight kisses, I hid under my covers, switched on my flashlight, and started reading a Superman comic book. The only sound breaking the silence of our dark bedroom was the gong of the grandfather clock down at the end of the hall as it signaled every half hour and hour.
At midnight, as the clock chimed twelve times, I got out of bed and slowly opened the bedroom door. The creak of rusty hinges echoed down the hallway, and then I heard a crashing sound coming from the living room.
Creeping down the hallway, I reached the steps and slid down on my bottom only to find … nothing. An empty living room. No Santa. No presents under the tree. No cookies. The only evidence Santa had been there was the broken cookie plate on the wooden floor. Guess I must’ve startled him with our creaking door.
I went back to bed. On Christmas morning no one believed I almost saw Santa. Undeterred by their doubts, I vowed that next Christmas there would be no convincing necessary. I had an entire year to think of and then create the perfect Santa Trap.
When you’re 7, a year seems like forever, but Christmas Eve day finally came again, and I was ready to set my Santa trap.
First, I had to convince Mom to let us kids help her bake some chocolate chip cookies to leave out for Santa again. Second, I had to keep my brothers from eating all the cookies once they were baked. Freshly baked cookies meant bait for my trap.
It was hard to keep everyone away, but luckily by bedtime, there were still eight left. Mom again assured us that would be enough for Santa as she set the plate of cookies on the fireplace hearth. Then everyone went to bed and fell asleep — everyone except me.
Under my covers with my flashlight and Superman comic book, I waited. When the grandfather clock struck eleven, I quickly retrieved the small bag hidden under my bed and hurried to our bedroom door. Thanks to my oiling of the hinges, this time there was only silence as the door opened.
I crept down the hallway, slid on my bottom down the steps, and crawled over to the still uneaten plate of cookies. Reaching into my bag, I grabbed a spool of fishing line. After wrapping one end around the largest cookie, I placed it on the bottom of the pile and slowly backed away. The line fed off the spool and followed me back up the steps, under our door, and to my bed where I held onto the end with both hands. One big tug, and it would mean Santa was on the other end.
The tug came just after the grandfather clock signaled it was two o’clock. I leapt out of bed, ran down the hallway, down the steps and over to the almost empty cookie plate. I say “almost” because all the cookies had been replaced by a red and green envelope tied to the fishing line. The envelope was addressed to me.
Inside was a note in red ink on white paper that read: “Nice try. Thanks for the cookies. Santa”
Even after waking up my brothers and showing them the note, they still didn’t believe what had happened. But if you ask me, even to this day I will tell you, “Yes, I believe in Santa. And his favorite cookie is chocolate chip.”
[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001.]