Elwood, Indiana; 1971
“Here’s your letter to Santa as I copied it down in cursive. Now, you can copy this using your own cursive. When you’re finished, fold up your letter, and place it in the envelope and Mommy will mail it for you.”
Since I was the eldest, and for many years, only child, Mother spent a great deal of time preparing me for school, and staying a little bit ahead of new things.
In first grade at Washington elementary school, cursive was still a year away. However, I wanted to write my letter to Santa, a.k.a. Jim King, at that time, Elwood’s best assistant next to police officer, Harley Shinkle.
if parents requested a visit from Santa’s assistant on Christmas Eve night, they were to set a package on the front porch to be personally delivered by Santa.
Christmas eve night, 1971, we were celebrating Christmas with my grandparents and uncles. There was a knock at the door. Mother encouraged me to answer the door.
There stood Santa Claus/Jim King.
Santa took me through the all-too-familiar list of questions, and determined I had been a good enough boy to receive the package he brought me.
As we were to quickly discover, Santa had a Nother surprise for me.
He reached his gloved hand inside his red velvet suit, and retrieved a folded piece of writing paper. He opened the letter, adjusted his spectacles, and sang my praises for having such a beautiful penmanship at six years old.
Mother’s favorite comment, when recounting this off told Christmas memory, is how my eyes rolled over to where she was standing, and I began biting my lip.
Before leaving the house, Santa, laid the letter on the electric organ, and ventured into the dining room to greet my grandparents whom he had known for many years.
After Santa left, the family celebration continued. I was happily playing with my new electric train set, and my new G.I. Joe Egyptian explorer action figure that came with a dune buggy and hey mommy and sarcophagus, when the fear of God rush through every inch of my six-year-old body.
“This is my letter!”
I slowly turned my head to see my mother holding the latter she had written as a template for my letter to Santa Claus.
Mothers facial gestures spoke volumes, as many parents facial gestures do; however, I guess I knew my mother’s facial gestures so much better than anyone else’s. Her lips were pushed forward so she could chew on the inside of her cheek; eventually, her tongue begin pushing against the inside of her cheek prompting the tumorous mobile object on her outercheek.
Yes, I had been caught in the act. I had inserted my Mother’s template letter into the envelope that was sent to Santa Claus.
This photo was taken just as Santa retrieved the letter. Somewhere, we have a photograph of Santa standing next to me, showing off my latter, but my eyes turn toward Mother who is taking the photograph.