All the little cousins had gathered around, sitting on the carpeted floor, anxiously waiting for Santa's arrival. My mom and my two aunts, Katherine and Rosie, were standing behind us, giggling. I took it to mean, that they were excited, too!
Suddenly, there was a noise, coming from the ...kitchen? The "Ho, Ho, Ho!" was definitely recognizable, but how did Santa get into the kitchen?! Wasn't his M.O. to come down the chimney?! No one questioned his entrance; all eyes were now fixed upon the chubby man in the red velvet suit. His hair was snow white and his cheeks were rosy; as was his nose. He wore granny glasses, and was happy to sit, when my uncle George offered him a chair.
We had been prepped and knew what to do..when our name was called, we were to go near him, and only if he lifted us, was it ok to sit on his lap. Our moms would quickly take a snapshot with their Brownie Instamatic and then, we could take our gift and go back to our spot on the floor. We all had promised to adhere to the directions we had been given, after all, tonight's visitation WAS an exception to the rule. (Rule #1 Santa only visits your house when you are sleeping.)
We anxiously awaited for our name to be called. Santa was not big on talking. He only called the name, and then gifted each cousin. But when he called my name, something magical happened. He lifted me up on his knee, and ever so softly, whispered near my ear, in Greek (Come on now, everyone KNOWS Santa can speak every language on Earth!! He's not American!) "My darling Krissy. I love you, so much." ("Agape tee mou Krissoula. S'agapo polle.") It was not the words he spoke that were magical, it was the tone in which he said them.
I smiled so brightly and took my gift and sat back on the floor. I was so darn happy! I must have glowed. I fell in love with Santa, that night, at the age of 7. He WAS the gentlest person, I had ever met; with the kindest voice.
I received a doll, that Christmas. If you laied her down, she would cry. If you held her upright, she would stop. Her eyes opened and shut, with eyelashes! I loved playing with that doll. And when I was too old to play with dolls, she sat upright on my bed. One day, when I was in junior high (Go! Ditmas!) my friend Shelley Rothstein asked me who had gotten me the doll. I smiled and said, "My dad." The magic was not gone; just redirected to its correct source. Merry Christmas Everyone!!!!