The year was so long ago. The memory of that one cookie is still printed in my mind. I can picture my mother dressed in her olive green chenille robe. My father wasn’t in the kitchen when it happened.
Christmas was magical for me as a child. From the time I can remember my mother would bake cookies. Her signature cookie was the Sand Tart. Paper thin. Baked perfectly every single year. My part was to assist in decorating the buttery Sand Tarts, sugar cookies and Gingerbread reindeer. You read that correctly – reindeer. During this week long cookie bake off with my mother and her best friend I would make sure to have two special cookies made just for Santa. Those cookies were made with two special cookie cutters. Santa and the North Star. On Christmas Eve the Santa plate came out of the dining room hutch. Four cookies were placed on the plate with a Christmas napkin and a glass of milk. A Christmas card written out to Mr. & Mrs. Claus. The real Mr. & Mrs Claus! Midnight Mass straight to bed! I knew the chime of Santa’s sleighbells would come in the cold night air. So I would be very still….waiting….listening….falling asleep.
Christmas morning came with opening gifts. My parents taking their places on the couch or floor with us. My siblings were older than me so I was the lucky one who received the toys. Dolls that grew hair. Books – a lot of story books. Puzzles and games. A puppy. More dolls. More family dogs. More dolls. And then that year when Christmas morning would never be the same.
As my mother sipped her coffee with pink rollers around the top of her head she opened a tin of cookies. She never permitted us to eat cookies for breakfast, especially on Christmas day of all days! Those cookies were not only served Christmas Eve during my parents gathering of family and friends, those cookies were served on Christmas day to those same family members who came back for dinner or desert. Friends who would stop by to make merry and take tons of Polaroid pictures. As she open the second tin I spotted them. Under regular North Stars only dusted with cinnamon, not glittery blue sugar. My Santa and North Star cookies for Santa! What? How? Did Santa not have time to eat them? My mother was frozen and I could feel her stare. Knowing my mother she wanted to wait for the inquisition. Because my mother would give me the best reason of why those special Santa cookies were back in the tin. The tin decorated with rather large gaudy poinsettia flowers. You must understand these cookie tins were huge! Just minutes before the unveiling of cookies I checked the Santa plate and it was clear to me he enJOYed his cookies! He enJOYed the milk!
This was the Christmas before I turned ten. This was the Christmas when my sister was married and my brother was in the Army. This was the Christmas when our family Schnauzer, Greta, was about to have a litter of puppies. This was the Christmas finding those cookies. My parents were not being deceiving. My parents were only continuing the tradition for so many years. My father never giving any thought as to how he concealed those special cookies underneath the “regular” cookies with cinnamon. My father was probably busy Christmas Eve trying to find something in the garage or attic because my mother was an expert in hiding. So his only option was to quickly slide the special cookies into the large cookie tin with large gaudy poinsettias.
I cried. And then cried some more. Years later my mother and I would talk about how I [found out] discovered the secret. I could never say [found out] Santa wasn’t real. She would correct me because Santa, St. Nicholas, Bobbo Natale, and yes even Befana were truly real. And they still are very real in our home. My children have outgrown the secret. Our youngest recently discovered and even in his last attempt, our secret Santa, a friend who would send packages and letters to College Daughter when she was younger continued his Santa mission for Apple. Last year was one last attempt from secret Santa. I love him for this Christmas sparkle he would send each and every year.
Santa, St. Nicholas, Bobbo Natale and Befana are still very much alive in my heart and home. I have my own special plate for Santa. A mug of hot chocolate has replaced a tall glass of milk. Carrots for his reindeer. And if we’re lucky the dogs will not sneak a bite of the carrots this year. After service we open one gift before watching our favorite Christmas Eve movie – It’s A Wonderful Life. After the girls go to bed Football Superstar and I will sit down with a glass of eggnog and talk about Christmases past and those to come.
When innocense becomes lost, it’s only to be picked up by the true spirit of Christmas. Remembering those Christmases of my childhood make my heart happy. That warm feeling is my mother. Her smile and even her stare lives in me. Christmas was her favorite holiday season. As is mine.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from my family to yours. And to my dear friend Santa……I still believe. ❤