Last Monday when we arrived for our weekly yoga class, the parking lot of the community center was full. When we went inside, we learned that one of the local merchants had rented the center for the evening for their annual Christmas party.
The business owner saw me come in. He stepped over and asked if I was there to tell Santa what I wanted for Christmas. Smiling, I told him I was there for yoga. He said, you need to see Santa; he’s the real deal.
When I stepped into the main room, Santa walked over, shook my hand, and asked if I’d been a good boy. Assuring him that I had been good, he said, “You answered too quickly. That’s usually a sign that you’ve been naughty.” We had a good laugh together. As I walked out, he called after me, “Be sure and let me know what you want for Christmas.”
I’ve thought about that question since then.
I spent a great deal of time thinking about the Christmas question when I was a kid. Our Sears Wish Book was dog-eared by September with all the possible presents for my list. I knew that Santa had to provide for all the kids, and I didn’t want to take advantage of his generosity. I weighed every choice. If I were to ask Santa for a bicycle, should I also ask for a horn and handlebar streamers or was that asking too much? Being greedy was a one-way express ticket to the naughty list. I wrestled with finalizing “The List” for months.
These days, most of our Christmas presents go to our nieces, nephews, and their children. Jilda is masterful at picking out the right gift for each of them. She knows their sizes and favorite colors. She knows what kind of books they read, and for the little ones, what toys they might enjoy. Her record of pleasing young’uns is impressive.
We buy each other a few gifts to unwrap on Christmas Eve, but not that many. Having no children of our own, we pretty much buy the things we want throughout the year. Our Christmas shopping is almost complete. We’ll pick up a few last-minute items before “the wrapping” begins.
An appointment had me heading to West Alabama. Rain moved in overnight so I left early enough that I could take my time on the road. Stopping at the office, I picked up some supplies before making one more stop at Jacks to pick up breakfast. Instead of dropping food on the front of my shirt, I decided to park for a few minutes and eat. The cemetery where my folks are buried is peaceful and it was just ahead. Clicking on my turn signal, I pulled in.
Their graves are close to the road that winds through the grounds, so I crunched up to the edge on the gravel and switched off the ignition.
The rain had stopped, but a shroud of fog hung over the graves in the low-lying areas. Jilda and I put flowers on my parent’s plots a few weeks ago, and they still looked good.
Leaning against the hood of the truck, I asked my folks what they wanted for Christmas. I knew what both of them would have said had they been here with me today. My dad would have opted for a nip of nog spiked with the good stuff. And, of course, my mom would have asked that we all be healthy and spend Christmas together.
When I was younger, most of the things on my Christmas list were material things. But today, as I stood near the graves of my mom and dad, I can’t think of a better gift than for us all to be healthy. And to be together for Christmas. Of course, a nip of nog with the good stuff would be nice, but that might put me on Santa’s naughty list.
Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book Life Goes On is available on Amazon.com. You can contact him via email at email@example.com.