One year Mom decided to take my little sister and me to see Santa! I must have been around 6. We headed downtown to the local Sears and Roebuck store and down the stairs to the basement. I don't remember much of the detail , but what I remember is quite clear. The queue/line was quite long for St. Johnsbury, Vermont -- there must have been a dozen mothers with their children in tow.
As I stood in line something rather interesting occurred to me, but I couldn't quite believe it -- but as I stood there I became more and more convinced that it was true. Standing on my tiptoes I whispered into my mother's ear and she bent down, said 'yes, but don't tell Mary -- it's a secret.'
My first conspiracy began ...
In the meantime, the little girl at the front of the queue got her chance to tell Santa what was on her Christmas list. Now I realize that I was only about six years old, and things get exaggerated over time in our memory banks. However, this little girl had an amazingly long list and Santa was amazingly patient waiting to hear it all. Each time it would seem she had finished as was about to go she would remember something else! When she finally did leave she came back again because she had forgotten something -- but finally I think Santa had to remind her that other children had been waiting and he had to get their names and wishes on his list as well as hers.
At long last she left and one by one the girls and boys in front of us had their time with Santa's ear and possibly his lap. Finally, Mary and I stood in front of him. First he asked Mary and she told him what she wanted. I stared at him intently and he turned his gaze upon me, asked me my name and if I had been a good girl -- which made me giggle for some reason and then what I wanted for Christmas. I told him I'd been pretty good most of the time and then all I could think of to ask for was 'books'.
"Oh, you like to read," said Santa -- I think maybe he was impressed!
"Oh, yes," I replied. Honestly, my mind went blank -- it was really on something else altogether, you see...
And so the interview with Santa Claus came to an end.
Mom, Mary and I left Sears and carried on home. She was happy to have met Santa and I had a secret to keep. You see while I was standing in line, I heard a very familiar voice. And I listened and listened and when I was quite sure, I asked my mother and she confirmed my suspicions.
My father really was Santa Claus!