Santa, I’ve Been Good

black_santa_ap_mediumI have. I really have.

All I want for Christmas is to be put back on Santa’s list.
            Even though I haven’t lived with the threat of being scratched off of Santa’s list in a rather long, long time, I’ve still tried my best to be nice. I’ve brushed my teeth, washed my face, and combed my hair every morning like I was taught to do. I’ve respected my elders and stayed out of the way of our young (to avoid the fate of that grandmother who got ran over by a reindeer). And I’ve dreamed of a white Christmas, wished everyone a Merry Christmas, and waited for the Christmas when Santa would deem me fit to be put back on his list.
            Christmas is and has always been my favorite time of the year. As a child, it was even more special because, although Christmas Day came only once a year, Santa always came twice.
            Santa’s “big” visit was on Christmas Day.
            My brothers and I would wake up before dawn to a living room that looked like the toy sections of TG&Y, Western Auto, and Southern Auto combined. Even though my grandmother and mother had threatened to have our names scratched off of Santa’s list, it seemed the jolly old elf had dumped his entire sleigh at our house. A few years, when my cousins also lived at our grandparents’ house, Santa needed three sleighs to haul the toy list for the twelve of us. We were so excited about the toys Santa had left on display that it was usually noon before we got around to unwrapping the presents under the tree.  Santa’s other visit, a sort of prequel to Christmas, usually occurred the week before Christmas.
            My brothers and I never knew how we got on Santa’s other list – the one he put the local Rotary Club in charge of, but we were glad to be on it. The Rotarians didn’t keep as watchful eye on us as Santa, so we didn’t have to worry about being scratched off of their prequel-to-Christmas-Day list. And, because our grandmother and mother appreciated the club’s acts of kindness, we didn’t have to worry about them threatening to have us taken off the Rotarians’ list.
             The invitation to the Rotary Club Christmas Luncheon arrived a few days before the event, which was held at various locations around town. The days leading up to the luncheon were just like the days leading up to Christmas. We couldn’t sleep. We couldn’t sit still. And we couldn’t stop talking about the gifts we hoped Santa would leave for us at the luncheon.
“Just be thankful for whatever ‘he’ leaves you,” my grandmother would remind us. And we were thankful.
              The luncheon that stands out the most in my mind was held at the Boys and Girls Club facility on Washington Street. It looked like the Rotarians’ Santa had unloaded two sleighs of gift-wrapped toys for all the “good” children on their list. My brothers and I needed a dufflebag to carry all the gifts we received.
              Several years later, I was disappointed to find out my brothers’ names made the Rotary Club’s Santa List but mine didn’t. Apparently, I had reached the age limit for their list.
              A few years ago, when my name stopped appearing on the gifts under the tree, I surmised that I had reached the age limit for Santa’s list too.
             But, I haven’t given up trying to get back on it.
             This year, I’ve tried not to cry. I’ve tried not to pout. And I’ve tried to be good and it wasn’t just for goodness sakes.
             So, if I wake up Christmas morning and find that my name didn’t make it back on Santa’s list, there’s only one thing left for me to do – spend the next twelve months searching for the elusive Fountain of Youth.
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