Christmas 1952, a short story by StevenHunley. Date added: 2010-12-25. Times viewed: 800.
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- Intro: A small boy finds out about Santa
In fifty-two I was five and believe it or not things were different then. I was in kindergarden and just at that age to start doubting Santa’s identity. But I didn’t. Not yet. My father ran a service station for Shell Oil. I say service station because that’s what they gave you then, service. For the price of the gas they’d wipe your wind shields, check your battery. water, and oil, even your tires.
My Dad had always been good with his hands. I remember them well. They were rough and calloused, and deep in his fingerprints was the black of the many miles of roads America had even then. No matter how much he scrubbed them with soap the black never came out, like America itself, it was too ingrained in him.
My father worked hard, and because of that, so did my mother. She was from Missouri (Misery she called it,) and he was from Dorothy’s Kansas. Working on cars was the work that dirtied him. The combination of road dirt and oil was tough to remove from the snow-white uniforms Shell wore at the time. White pants, white shirt, white captain’s hat with a gold shell on a red field in the front.
“What do they think he is, a sailor or a mechanic?”
Mom would say that when doing the laundry.
She’d wake up every morning Monday through Saturday at four, to wake him up and feed him by five so he could open the station by six. They’d both come to California in the early forties to work in aircraft factories. That’s how they met. Hard working, with jobs, that’s how America used to be. Back before out-sourcing, back when we did all our own work and were damned proud of it. “American made” meant something back then.
He worked hard and was on his feet all day long. So about two weeks before Christmas she got him some new shoes to relax in. Appropriately enough they were called loafers. I suppose she expected him to loaf around in them. I noticed right off they were so new they squeaked when he walked.
So Christmas Eve came and while on the way to bed I asked could I go get a drink of water.
We had a water cooler on the back porch.
“Don’t drink too much Steven, you’ll pee the bed.”
I didn’t like that my Mom said that. Mainly because I never did pee the bed yet she told me anyway. My Mom had been a Master Sargent in the WACs. Always good at giving orders. If you knew what was good for you you followed them to the letter.
As I was putting the cup down I noticed a large unmarked box in the corner. I thought nothing of it and went back to my room and crawled into bed. She came in to tuck me in. My mom was good at tucking me in by now she’d had five years practice. My dad was in the living room reading the paper. He had plenty of practice at that too. I’d make him read me the funnies, like Alley Oop, the Katzenjammer Kids, the Little King, on Sundays. Like Blondie and Dagwood and Little Abner. You get my drift. It’s an old drift isn’t it?
“Now tomorrow is Christmas Steven, so you get some sleep.”
As if I didn’t know.
Then she’d plant a soft kiss on my cheek and close the door.
I’ll mention right here that I was excited, so excited I thought I couldn’t sleep at all. But I wrong. I was asleep in mere seconds. I didn’t stay that way for long.
Around midnight I woke up. First I thought I heard sounds for the roof. Nope, that wasn’t it. Then I noticed they were coming from the other side of my door. I turned and looked. The crack under the door showed the light was still on. And it wasn’t reindeer hoofs I was hearing. It was,
“Squeak squeak, squeak squeak.”
My Dad’s loafers, that’s what it was. Feeling secure I went right back to sleep.
The next morning I came out and was still wiping the sleep from my eyes when I noticed a brand-spanking new tricycle next to the tree. All glittery and sparkling and chrome.
The unmarked box on the back porch was gone.
Even a kindergardener knows one and one equals two.
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