It was my favorite Christmas growing up.
It was in 1971, and I was six years old. Our parents let us stay up late to watch the weather on KFDX because they had the Santa Claus tracker on radar. The radar in those days looked like a record album with a straight-line laser circling it and it blinked red when it detected Rudolph, who we all knew was leading the team of Christmas joy.
This particular Christmas at around 10:15 p.m., the local authority on such things was the meteorologist, known to me at the time as the weatherman. He told us that Rudolph was taking off from Chicago, which meant he was in the country and on his way to the greater Wichita Falls area.
I knew enough to know that Santa wouldn’t stop at my house if I was awake, so I willed myself to be tired. Like super tired, only I wasn’t.
I shared a room with my three older sisters, and I had the top bunk so I crawled up the ladder and got in bed with my stuffed gingerbread man, Clyde. Normal six-year-olds slept with teddy bears. I slept with a large gingerbread man … named Clyde.
The fabulous television program about the lovable and caring doctor, Marcus Welby, M.D., was on the TV and the last thing I remember was him talking to a patient with a concerned, yet caring look on his face.
The next thing I remember was I woke up and it was daylight. My only hope was that Santa didn’t show up before the unfortunate diagnosis the night before.
A glorious blue quilted-side baby carriage under the Christmas tree told me I had maintained a six-year streak of falling asleep before Santa made it to Texas. I also received a blue and green plaid poncho that year, the perfect accessory for the new six-year-old mother of a plastic baby.
A lot of Chistmases have passed since then, but the local TV stations are still the go-to place to locate the exact whereabouts of the jolly one, only with more advanced radars.
It’s a tradition that I’m happy to see has stuck around, and also I hear that ponchos are making a comeback.
I no longer have a poncho or a baby carriage, but I still check on Santa’s whereabouts every year.
I love traditions, and even with people I love in different locations, I try to observe as many as I can.
Every year, I bake Christmas cookies, which I consider to be my spiritual Xanax. I bake them, I ice them and I take pictures of them to text to my daughter. Twenty years ago, I would have had to send her a letter after the film was processed.
We used to bake together every year, now we bake in different states. Same tradition, modified execution.
And there are some traditions I’m just bad at, like sending Christmas cards (or if I’m being honest, cards in general). Exhibit A: this is your Christmas card and it has been for close to 20 years. I suppose this in itself is a tradition, which means I don’t totally suck at it.
But while we are on the subject, Merry Christmas. I truly wish for you a beautiful Christmas filled with traditions, old and new.
So turn off the TV and get some sleep. I hear Santa Claus is coming to town