By Bob Flynn
We were a farm family in West Texas. We made our Santa Claus list from catalogs—Sears Roebuck, Montgomery Ward, Bella Hess. There was no TV or Santas in stores. Santa came to our two-room school house once. He scared us so that he was never invited back.
My brother, sister and I stood our boots before the radiant gas heater that kept the house toasty for up to five feet. When Mother opened the oven door to baste the turkey, we ran to warm our hands. Then we emptied oranges, nuts and candy from our boots to put our cold feet in them.
I had asked Santa for a teddy bear. There was no bear of no kind under the tree. Mother, seeing my tears, said, “Maybe Santa dropped it.” What kind of Santa was that? Spilling presents and breaking hearts?
Mother opened the door and snow covered the porch. There were boot prints in the snow. And my teddy bear. I picked it up but it was cold and wet. Santa had ruined it. Mother said, “I’ll put it in the oven to dry.”
I was still in my dropseat longhandles and my boots were cold but I followed the tracks until I saw they went to the barn. Dad must have left the barn open so the deer could warm and the toys wouldn’t get wet.
I went inside to stand by the stove and watch my bear dry. Anybody could drop a bear in the snow. Probably one of the deer had knocked it out of Santa’s bag. Reindeer were like that.
Mother handed me the bear. It had a bald spot but I held it tight. Santa almost ruined my bear. He would disappoint me again. But there were boot prints in the snow.