(Read it here or read the illustrated version of Santa Closet by Jane Cooper.)
The following is a paper I recently wrote for my fifth grade English class. Mrs. Hilburn gave me an ‘A,’ undoubtedly for my excellent use of the language. Three long years ago, when I was seven, I had a lot on my mind. My family had moved into a new house right before Christmas. A house with no chimney.
And, like any discerning youngster, I immediately saw the handwriting on the wall.
No chimney, no Santa Claus. Period. The end.
I queried my parents concerning the dilemma.
“Don’t worry, Johnny,” they said, “Santa will find a way to deliver your presents.”
I was appalled by their laissez-faire attitude. This was a critical issue. I demanded a definitive answer.
They giggled, and told me I was cute.
But I didn’t want to be cute. I wanted my presents.
I found myself in a constant state of panic. My five-year-old brother, Billy, lived in his own little world. He was too young and immature to understand the ramifications of the situation.
Surrendering to the inevitable doom, I began to count down the dreary days.
On the first day of Christmas, Dear Santa gave to me: a woodpecker in a dead tree.
On the second day of Christmas, Dear Santa gave to me: two rotten eggs, and a woodpecker in a dead tree.
On the third day of Christmas, Dear Santa gave to me: three baby skunks, two rotten eggs, and a woodpecker in a dead tree.
It was going to be the worst Christmas imaginable. And I was powerless to do anything about it.
On Christmas Eve our house was filled with merriment. My dad read “The Night Before Christmas” in dramatic fashion. Mom led us in the singing of familiar, peppy Christmas carols.
I played along—just to make my parents happy.
Billy laughed and sang his heart out—completely oblivious to the impending disaster.
When it was time for bed, my parents gave their usual spiel: “You boys try to fall asleep fast, because Santa won’t come until you’re asleep.”
I wondered how they could be so naive. Did they really think Santa could somehow get into a house without a chimney? What was he supposed to do—come in through the plumbing? Pop his head out of the toilet, and exclaim, ‘Merry Christmas?’ It was ludicrous.
So, for once in my life, I had very little trouble going to sleep on Christmas Eve. I had to tell Billy to shut up a couple of times. But after that, we were both out cold.
There would be no gifts in the morning—except the shirts I watched my mom buy for me at the mall. She had wrapped them up beautifully. And I would try to look thrilled when I opened the packages. But, come on—shirts are not even in the same league as bicycles and game consoles.
At 2:13 a.m., Billy punched me in the back. I rolled over, and was about to land a fist in his stomach when he whispered, “Listen.”
I don’t hear anything,” I said. “Go back to sleep and leave me alone.”
I rolled back over. Then I felt Billy get out of the bed. The nightlight projected a ten-foot shadow of my little brother on the wall as he approached the door.
“Come back here and get in bed,” I said. It was my responsibility to keep the little guy in our room. My parents did not appreciate night visitors to their bedroom. So, you’d better have a very good reason for waking them up in the middle of the night.
He ignored me, turning the doorknob very slowly. He opened the door just a crack and peeked out. Then he looked back at me and began to wave wildly for me to join him.
I jumped out of bed and rushed over to Billy. I was sure he was getting excited about nothing. The boy has little understanding of the things of this world. But I couldn’t let him wander into my parent’s room.
As soon as I stuck my head out the door, my heart began to race. There he was. All dressed up in red and white, just as you’d expect. He had a long, white beard and wore a red cap. I never dreamed I would ever see him in person.
He was standing in the closet at the end of the hallway, loading his arms with bright-colored packages. Then I saw the bicycle. The one I had asked Santa to bring me.
My parents were right! Santa had found a way.
I decided there must be a hidden door at the back of the closet. A door that only Santa could open. That’s how he got into the house.
I felt a chill down my spine. Billy and I were on the precipice. We had already seen too much. I carefully closed the door, and we held our breath as we slipped back into bed. I prayed we hadn’t ruined everything. I pictured our Christmas hopes plummeting into some black hole reserved for the lost dreams of the naughty, nosey children of the world.
But my fears were for naught. Christmas morning turned out to be the best ever. It was then that I realized my parents were perhaps somewhat wiser than I had always imagined.
Billy and I loved all our presents—especially the ones from Santa. But it wasn’t just about the gifts. It was about the magic.
And now I know the truth. You don’t need a chimney. Santa will find a way.
As you might imagine, I’ve searched for that hidden door at the back of the closet. But I’ve never found it. I figure it’s just part of the magic of Christmas. That closet is like any other closet—until Christmas, when it becomes…
The Santa Closet.