The very first time I visited our family in California was during Christmas in 1997. I was six years old and I still hold on to the memory and beauty of being able to visit Disneyland in Anaheim on Christmas Eve. The picture below is of my Aunt Sandy, my sister, and I at my grandma’s house making Rice Krispie treats when we got back from Disney.
Being six years old, I still held on to the magic of Santa Claus and had worried very much about whether or not he would be able to find us all the way in California. My Aunt Sandy went all out for nearly every holiday, but Christmas and Halloween were by far her biggest hits. Even now at 23, I can still picture her many Disney themed Christmas decorations scattered throughout her house. Wanting to show us a good time, she had found a poster of a fireplace and hung that on the back of the front door at my Grandma’s house (she didn’t have a real fireplace) and secured our stockings that she had sewn herself above it.
After the Disneyland adventures had ceased and the cookies for Santa had been made, my sister and I were quickly ushered off to bed. Not too much later but after I had dozed off for a bit, Aunt Sandy came into the bedroom whispering that Santa was there. My six year old self was elated and bounded out of bed. Tiptoeing down the hallway, I peeked around the corner into the living room and sure enough, I saw Santa Claus, with his back to me, putting some goodies in our stockings. Not sure what to do with myself, I ran back into the bedroom and jumped on the bed, giddy with excitement.
Fast forward about four years later, I still was under the magical spell of Santa and in school that year, I wrote a story about how I had met Santa. My teacher unfortunately chose to tell me the truth (something my Mom is still none too happy about) about the jolly old man and I went home that day very sad and confused. My mom then pulled out an envelope with pictures from our 1997 trip and explained to me that Aunt Sandy had convinced my Dad (along with half of a beer) to put on one of her Santa suits that she had in storage from her costume company. At the time I was not pleased at all but now I can laugh at the comical photos of my Grandma and my Aunt stuffing pillows into the Santa suit.
This is one of my favorite Christmas memories and to me, it shows my Aunt’s love for the holidays and the spirit of giving that she possessed not just in December, but every day of her life.