For one of my childhood friends, Santa would leave a big red sack full of presents for the kids. For one friend of mine, Santa would call late Christmas morning to make sure she liked what she got.
But in my humble opinion, Santa would do the coolest thing for me and my brothers.
Each Christmas eve, after the candlelight service and our annual Family Christmas Program in which we’d sit by the piano and sing and play and perform carols. I’d prepare Santa a small glass full of eggnog and some cookies to thank him for coming to visit.
And by bedtime, I, in my itchy footie pajamas, was so anxiously waiting for Santa to arrive, and yet so incredibly tired.
So I’d fall asleep — usually in my middle-brother’s room, because he had twin beds and my grandparents had taken my room for the night.
Somehow, as I laid down, with visions of sugarplums dancing in my head, Santa would creep in, drop off the presents, eat the cookies, drink the eggnog, and fill the stockings and candy jars.
But not before stopping by all the kids’ beds.
I’d wake up — usually at around 5:30 a.m., when it was still dark outside, and I’d immediately know Santa had been there because of the hard surface under my pillow. I’d reach under it and find…
A book. Usually a Little Golden Book, and usually a Little Golden Book about celebrating Christmas.
It was the coolest thing to reach under my pillow and immediately feel that book and know automatically it had a shiny golden spine and was left there just for me. And then my brother would reach under his pillow and find a book.
See, Santa knew I wanted the Barbie and my brothers wanted their Star Wars toys, but he also knew above everything that reading was important. So he’d always make sure me and my brothers had something to read.
25 years later, I’m a writer and my brothers have Masters degrees. I think Santa had our best interests at heart.
A few years ago I asked my mom, who was a close personal friend of Santa, how he managed to get those books under my pillow. She said she made sure we were really, really exhausted by the time we went to bed so that Santa could easily slide the book underneath without disturbing us.
Amazing. I think if I have kids, I’m gonna make sure Santa puts a book under their pillow.