Dave Nalle’s article about still believing in Santa at 46 years old got me thinking about the time I saw Santa when I was five years old. He are my comments in response to his post:
“I saw Santa once too, Dave. It was late on Christmas Eve and everyone was upstairs, and I only ran down because I forgot my Bugs Bunny (at 5 he was preferred over a Teddy Bear). I swear to this day I saw him, swinging his legs out our window (we didn’t have a fireplace). He wasn’t so much a specter; he seemed real. I stood in shock as he slipped out and shut the window behind him.
“I wanted to say something but he was gone so quickly. The reason I think he was real was because the room was freezing cold (from the window being opened). I ran to the window and saw nothing and heard nothing (no bells, no reindeer’s hoves, nothing). He was just gone. I still believe I saw him even if no one else ever believed me.
“Ho, ho, ho!”
I kept thinking about this “sighting” and needed to actually talk about it during this year’s holiday festivities. On Christmas Eve I started talking about seeing Santa Claus when I was five (these were difficult circumstances because my four year old and other kids were present). Later on my cousins (when we were in another room) chided me about my memory, and even my mother said (as she has always maintained) that I was sleepwalking and dreaming.
Now, I never had any instance of sleepwalking before or after that night (as far as I know), so I think it’s pretty certain that was not the case. My sister thinks I was dreaming, and it is still obvious that no one believes me. My father sat listening to all this and said nothing. I was hoping he would jump in and defend me, but he also never believed me and said it was just a dream or, and this is a good one, a hallucination based on “intense wish fulfillment.”
That night after everyone left I sat in the living room in the quiet house, my daughter sleeping blissfully uspstairs with more than visions of sugar plums dancing in her head (more likely she was dreaming of the whole American Girl Doll collection). I stared at the tree and tried to rethink and relive the moment I saw Santa Claus. No matter how hard I tried, the incident still came back to me the same way. The very vivid nature of the memory, the clarity of that chubby man swinging his stubby legs out the window, still managed to shake me with its veracity.
On Christmas Day I stopped at my parents’ house to drop off presents from the night before. My father was sitting in the kitchen reading the newspaper as I came in with the packages. He looked up at me and said, “You couldn’t have seen Santa go out that window because every winter I nail it shut to keep out the draft.” This was true because that one window faced north and was the recipient of the most frigid winds, no doubt ones that helped carry Santa and his sleigh down from the North Pole.
This was the stymulus I needed to enhance the memory. I remembered running to the window and looking at the two nails (one on each side) to see if they were there, because in my young mind I was no doubt thinking about how Dad had nailed that drafty thing shut. The nails were there as always. I checked them and then looked outside and saw nothing of Santa. I hadn’t remembered checking for the nails previously.
I didn’t discuss it anymore with Dad for his mind and everyone else’s is still not open to what happened. I believe that Santa could do most anything. I mean, if he could go up and down a chimney, why couldn’t he put his finger alongside his nose and just pop those nails out of the wood? The truth is the room was extremely cold and that couldn’t have happened if the window had been nailed shut. If I were sleepwalking or dreaming, would I have focused on such a detail as the nails in the wood? Would my bare feet have felt the chill in the floor? I don’t believe so.
Anyway, I glanced out that window before going on my way. No one was watching as I inspected the nails that are once again in place in order to keep out the draft. I wistfully remembered that night so long ago, and as I went off to my car to return home, I glanced at the rooftop of the house and imagined Santa scaling the wall in seconds to get back to his sleigh that night. Perhaps he didn’t even need to climb and just floated up into the sleigh.
I drove home confident of my memory and no longer wanting to convince anyone about it being real. I believe it happened the way I remember it, and that’s enough to keep the spirit of the jolly old elf alive in my mind, for this Christmas and all the Christmases yet to come.