A/N: A short holiday tale from little Grace's point of view.


MOMMY AND SANTA CLAUS

Why does the night before Christmas have to be so long? Grace thought to herself as she tried her best to fall asleep. Actually she was hoping for the usual Christmas surprise, Santa Claus' "secret" arrival.

Though Grace had recently discovered Santa Claus wasn't exactly real (and loyally shared that discovery with her twin), that didn't mean the magic of this night was any less. For as long as the eight-year-old could remember, "Santa" had arrived as her house, under cover of darkness, when he thought she and her brothers were fast asleep. Without fail, the jolly man would make enough noise to wake her. Each year, she'd creep quietly from her bed, wake Jake, and together the twins would peek into the family room from the upstairs banister. She remembered the first year she saw him. He was awfully skinny compared to the chubby Santas she always saw at the stores. And her Santa was tall too, with lots of white whiskers and the usual red suit.

Every year before her fateful discovery, Grace and her brother would watch from the second floor while Santa unloaded all sort of brightly wrapped packages and placed them under the Christmas tree. It was so exciting! She had all she could do to stop herself going downstairs to say hello. Last year, she and Jake had gotten little Jon out of bed. Warning him to be very quiet, they'd led the then two-year-old to the traditional vantage point for the viewing. As expected, her little brother had been very impressed.

Now Grace was worried her new found skepticism might keep Santa from appearing at all. Maybe it's not good to get older, she thought, wondering if her mom could find a way to reverse the process. Maybe she could convince Santa she really believed in him after all …

All of a sudden, there it was -- the usual commotion from the family room, a sure sign that Santa had arrived. If there wasn't really a Santa, who keeps coming to our house every year? Grace wondered as she ran to the boys' room.

"Jake, wake up, he's here," she said, shaking her twin by the shoulders.

Jake, trying to play it cool in light of his new insights into the world of Christmas, bounded out of bed with all the grace of a freight train, making enough noise to rouse the usually sound-sleeping Jon.

"Is he here?" Jon whispered, in an awestruck voice Grace seemed to recall using in years past.

"Yep, he's here," Grace answered, winking at her twin. Between them, they decided to allow their baby brother a few more years of happy delusion about Santa. "But remember," Grace whispered, "we have to be very quiet or he'll know we're awake."

"Yeah, then he'll leave and take all the presents with him," Jake added helpfully.

"Okay," little Jon mouthed more than said aloud, silently followed his older siblings out the bedroom door.

As the stealthy trio reached their customary observation point, just above the family room, they heard some familiar sounds.

"Ow!"

Looking over the banister, the only lights the children could see were from the Christmas tree. Momentarily, a small table lamp flicked on revealing a better view of the family room, including Santa Claus himself. From what Grace could tell, the poor man had just walked into something in the dark and was holding his knee in pain.

Grace wondered whether she should go down to help Santa. But before she could take action, Mom was there, holding what looked like one of Dad's ice packs, the kind he used when his knees were hurting. Mom walked over to Santa, handed him the ice pack and giggled. Grace was horrified. Doesn't she know you can't giggle at Santa, she thought.

Just as she'd decided all gifts were going back to the North Pole for sure, Santa dropped the ice pack to the floor and pulled Mom into a big hug. Before Grace knew what was happening, Mom and Santa were kissing. Kissing! Yuk! You don't kiss Santa Claus, she thought. Besides, what will Daddy say? Daddy, where is Daddy, anyway …?

He can't be, can he? She thought, as the light bulb went off. Blessed with her mother's natural deductive reasoning skills, Grace had finally figured out why this tall, trim Santa always came to her house. While Jon stood frozen, his face pushed up against the railing, taking everything in with wonder, Grace stole a knowing look at her twin.

She'd never forget the night she saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus.


A/N: Merry Christmas, everyone.

This little story just had to be written after listening to one too many carols on my latest and last shopping trip. Now, I'm just hoping to sit back and enjoy the season. I wish the same for you.