I was just a little kid and we'd taken the longest drive on earth to go spend Christmas with the rest of the family who lived in a place called 'up North'. Well really, they lived in Northwestern Wisconsin and we lived in the suburbs of Chicago.
We ended up at my cousins' farm on Christmas Eve if my memory serves me correctly.
My cousins had the absolute coolest ever place. It was an old farm house and at the time I don't think they had a bathroom in the house.
Of course as kids we didn't really mind as they weren't my only cousins without an indoor bathroom.
I am pretty sure that I preferred their place and envied them even though we rented a nice place in the Chicago suburbs.
After all, they had woods to play in. The had dairy cows, and they had everything in my eyes, everything a kid could want.
Anyway we were upstairs doing something and we heard some stomping and the jingle of bells.
We stared at each other then tried to beat each other down the wooden stairs.
And there he was. Santa Claus.
Now kids at my school had been telling me there was no such thing. NO such thing. And yet. Here he was in the flesh with a huge red bag sitting on the floor next to him. Snow was melting off from his boots and he clapped his hands together and gave out a huge belly laugh.
Yessir, that was Santa. He was a living breathing person. And he was so real.
We took turns shyly talking to him and he handed us each a gift.
I don't recall what I got that year, maybe it was the gunbelt and six shooter, or maybe it was the cowboy hat and shirt, perhaps it was all three. It doesn't matter because I knew that the jolly red fellow was absolutely real and those kids back in school were dead wrong.
Pretty soon Santa had his snack of cookies and milk then proclaimed that he had a long night ahead of him and would we please continue to be good children.
He mentioned something that each of us had done over the past year and we knew he knew what was going on.
He left and we heard bells and him calling to us as he left.
"Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night!"
About a half hour after he left my uncle Freddy came in from the barn where he'd been taking care of his dairy cattle. He seemed perplexed and wanted to know why there were reindeer tracks leading up to the house?
We ran outside and sure enough there were tracks of the little reindeer feet.
Yep, those kids were so wrong.
When I got back to school after break I got into a discussion with some other kids on the playground. I proclaimed my knowledge that Santa was real.
Let's just say my 4th grade teacher had to break up a playground fight.
I knew deep in my heart for I'd met the man, seen the reindeer tracks. He truly was real.