One Christmas Eve long ago right here in Angels Camp, dad said “How would you kids like to know something most people don’t know about Christmas?” He looked over his shoulder, glanced around the room then whispered, “Want to know a secret?” as though someone might hear who wasn’t supposed to right there in our parlor.
We all looked around too as if we expected to see someone’s toes sticking out from beneath the drapes or something.
“Sure, what?” brother answered. The three of us kids crowded close around him and waited for him to tell us this secret.
“What is it?” I asked. I was 9 and the practical one, I had argued with some of his “factual stories” in the past saying I didn’t believe it at all. “Oh you’d be surprised young lady,” he’d say. “There’s a lot that you don’t know.” I’d frown but I’d go along just the same.
Nancy the youngest at 5 guessed that Santa wasn’t coming at all and began to whine and snuffle. My brother Dan was 7 and always believed everything dad said no matter how far-fetched it sounded. He grabbed dad’s arm and begged him to tell us.
“Can’t you see he’s only teasing you?” I said with a sour look on my face. I wished that what dad was saying wasn’t teasing but I had to admit it always gave me something to think about for a long while afterwards.
We always had to wait for dad to find just the right moment. He’d give us the bait and then make us wait and wait and wait. We tried to walk off when he did that and pretend we didn’t care what it was because he took so long but we couldn’t ever do it, not one single time. Oh, we’d wander away sometimes pouting but we never got too far out of earshot.
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