Carlo, Gino and Julio got gifts from Santa until they were in their early teens. They believed, with all their hearts, that he would come every year.
They wrote letters. I would proof-read them, and check that their wishes were this side of sane 🙂 I always asked them to put in other wishes, in case the workshop at the North Pole couldn’t craft their top choice.
Then I would mail their letters for them.
In later years, Santa got an email address. Before the kids got their own computer, they would use my PC to fire off their wish lists to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The magic of the internet sent the letters got to the right person.
There were several tantalizing near-misses, when they nearly caught up with Santa. They knew they had to be asleep, else Santa would give the house a pass. But they were often too hyped up from the noche buena, or too eager to see what the sleigh would bring. They would stay awake.
Santa got very sleepy, flying holding patterns above the house, until they dropped off to sleep.
Once, the kids woke up to find ice shavings on top of the gift-wrapped presents! Snow from the North Pole!! Wow, that was neat. They figured the jolly Old Coot had unloaded the sleigh just before they woke up. The snow had not melted yet.
Santa sometimes stamped his gifts with a real North Pole postmark.
One year, there was a big hubbub in Grandma’s garage, when three large presents were found on top of the parked cars. There was a red hat, too. Obviously, Santa was in such a rush that year. Probably never stopped the sleigh, just did a touch and go over the house.
They got what they asked for, mostly. X-Wing fighters, Star Trek communicators, Pod Racers, Lego sets, model airplanes.
One year, the kids scrounged around my apartment for an arrival snack for Santa. They insisted. All I had was Spanish sardines in olive oil, and tomato juice. Fine. We set that the snack on the table. The kids woke up to find the Spanish sardines consumed, and the glass half empty.
I love Spanish sardines, myself. Goes back to illicit midnight snacks with my own Dad. But olive oil and tomato juice?? I was so sure that Santa got a bit sick that Christmas Eve. Ask me how I know this.
During the early Microsoft Windows years, a Santa tracking program appeared on the internet. ETAs all plotted for thousands of cities all over the world.
There is a map view, and a satellite view, and a time-to-go countdown for a Manila arrival. The kids watched, fascinated, as the sleigh inched closer, and the counter for millions of homes visited ticked away.
We ran the software all through the night before Christmas, year after year. Since the early 1990s. We crashed hard disks, lost laptops, drowned home computers in floods. But we always had a backup for Tracking Santa. The software even got a Windows Vista upgrade this year.
Then came the day when they were too old to get any more gifts from Santa. They were ABSOLUTELY heartbroken when they learned that. I had to explain, and it wasn’t easy. And I was stunned at their reactions. Gino, especially, was very, very disappointed when he learned.
Their own children will enjoy many years of Santa’s Christmas gifts, for sure! Just like my own Dad’s kids did, for many, many years.
I look forward to the magic of Santa’s visits on Christmas Eve, always.
Posted from Manila, December 24, 2009.