Just Hear Those Sleigh Bells Jingling, Ring-ting-tingaling, Too!


Now that we are celebrating Christmas season, I absolutely must share with you one of our greatest holiday memories. Before I tell it, though, keep in mind my dad owns an honest-to-goodness antique set of sleigh bells. The real deal ... that actually sound like the real deal.

Our two, Seth and Katie, were perhaps 8 and 4 years old and in love with the magic and wonder of Santa Claus. We always celebrated the holiday at my parents' house, and had just come home from Christmas Eve church service. As most children are on that special night, they were beyond excited. Christmas at Grandma and Grandpa's was highly anticipated and always so much fun. Fragrances of bayberry candles and holiday baking greeted us when we arrived, favorite Christmas music played softly from the stereo, the tree stood tall and regal in the middle of the sunroom bedecked with twinkling lights and ornaments, mouthwatering cookies begged to be eaten, a crackling wood fire kept us all toasty, empty stockings waiting to be filled hung over the fireplace, and the kids were enveloped in their grandparents' arms for hugs and kisses. It was warm, it was welcoming, it was home! The memory of it puts me in the Christmas spirit still today. Is it any wonder our children were not sleepy at all? They knew Santa had not been there yet: although there were some presents displayed under the tree, not all of them were there. After trying everything to get Seth and Katie to go downstairs to bed, we reminded them that if they weren't asleep when Santa came he might not leave any presents. They both knew all too well the story of Santa, his reindeer pulling a sleigh with bells a-jingling, and how they land on the rooftop before Santa comes down the chimney. Yep. Knew all that. Had the book. Read it. Every year. Yet they begged to stay up just a little bit longer with the grownups.

And then ... Grandpa Guy's brilliant idea! While we distracted the kids, he slipped out into the garage, quietly picked up the sleigh bells, went outside and walked all around the house in the pitch dark stillness of the night.

"Hey, everyone! Listen. What's that noise? Kids! Do you hear that? Ohhhh, we think Santa's verrrrry close by!

Sleigh bells! Softly at first, then very LOUD sleigh bells! Then quietly again as he rounded the corner of the house. You never saw such saucer-eyed expressions in your life! You never saw two children bound down the basement stairs and into bed so quickly, either! And lo and behold, you wouldn't believe how fast they fell asleep. It. Was. Priceless! And thanks to my dad for making it all happen. He WAS Santa that year! In fact, he continued in this role for a couple more years until the youngest children in the family were older, creating what my kids tell me are some of their fondest childhood memories. As Katie recalls, "In that brief moment every year, the whole world was created just for us. And it truly was just pure magic."

What are some of YOUR favorite grandparent holiday memories? I invite you, dear readers, to share them with us! Have a very merry and memorable holiday.

And above all, as Grampy says, HAVE FUN!