Adventure with Grandma (1/12/12)

I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma. I was
just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to
visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: "There
is no Santa Claus," she jeered. "Even dummies know that!"
My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled
to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me.
I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the
truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed
with one of her world-famous cinnamon buns. I knew they
were world-famous, because Grandma said so. It had to be
true.

Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between
bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. "No
Santa Claus!" she snorted. "Ridiculous! Don't believe it.
That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes
me mad, plain mad. Now, put on your coat, and let's go."

"Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked. I hadn't even finished
my second world-famous, cinnamon bun.
"Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one
store in town that had a little bit of just about every-
thing. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me
ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days. 'Take this
money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs
it. I'll wait for you in the car." Then she turned and
walked out of Kerby's.

I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with
my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by
myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people
scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few
moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-
dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to
buy it for.

I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my
neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my
church. I was just about thought out, when I suddenly
thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and
messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's
grade-two class. Bobby Decker didn't have a coat. I knew
that because he never went out or recess during the winter.
His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he
had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn't
have a cough, and he didn't have a coat. I fingered the
ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby
Decker a coat!

I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It
looked real warm, and he would like that. "Is this a
Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter
asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down. "Yes," I re-
lied shyly. "It's .... for Bobby." The nice lady smiled at
me. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag
and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat in Christmas
paper and ribbons (a little tag fell out of the coat, and
Grandma tucked it in her Bible) and write, "To Bobby, From
Santa Claus" on it -- Grandma said that Santa always
insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker's
house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever
officially one of Santa's helpers.

Grandma parked down the street from Bobby's house, and
she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his
front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. "All right, Santa
Claus," she whispered, "get going."

I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the
present down on his step, pounded his doorbell and flew back
to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. Together we waited
breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open.
Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.

Fifty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent
shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker's bushes.
That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa
Claus were just what Grandma said they were: ridiculous.
Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.

I still have the Bible, with the tag tucked inside: $19.95.