I sat on the floor of the gymnasium with the other kindergarten children. Our Christmas program was in progress. The air was buzzing with excitement. When the program was over, we would be dismissed for our Christmas vacation. For most of the kids, that meant Christmas parties and lots of presents under a tree.
We had a tree. It was about eight inches tall and made of clear plastic. I wasn’t too excited about it. It was supposed to have a gum drop on the end of each of the branches. We didn’t have any gum drops. I would attend no parties. There might be one gift for me for Christmas.
Final remarks were being made when the speaker was interrupted with a hearty “ho-ho-ho”. Santa had arrived…with a bag slung over his shoulder. Who knew what was in there?
He started with the youngest children. That was my group. As he reached into the bag, he withdrew a brown paper sack and handed it to a child. Repeatedly, his hand disappeared into the bag and re-appeared with another sack. All around me, the shrieks of the others added to the excitement. They ripped their sacks open and discovered they were full of candy.
It was my turn. I politely reached for my sack and said, “Thank you”. And then I sat back down and just waited to be dismissed. I knew I was not allowed to open the sack until I got home. Candy was a rare experience in our family and I needed permission before I ate any.
Soon we were dismissed. Children were shouting and running everywhere. I quietly pulled on my boots and winter coat. I had several blocks to walk. And the snow was deep out there. Tucking my paper sack under my armpit, I headed west into the wind that contained spits of new snow.
As I trudged through the snow, I thought about the candy in my possession. Would mother let me eat any? What kind was in there? Would I like it? Maybe I should save it for Christmas Day. That way, if I didn’t get anything for Christmas, I would still have candy.
I slowly made my way home. My arms were full of my books and papers, making the going tough. Finally, I reached West Street and turned north. Just a short distance left to go.
I climbed the steps to our front door. Laying my books and papers down so I could reach for the doorknob, I felt under my arm for my paper sack.
Something was wrong. It felt weird. As I pulled it out where I could see it, I discovered an empty sack. Apparently, the movement of my arm back and forth as I worked my way through the snow had rubbed a hole in the sack.
Like Hansel and Gretel, I had left a trail behind me…not of crumbs, but pieces of candy.
I felt no sense of loss. It was still unclear to me if I would have been allowed to eat it. And I was still unsure if I would have liked it. I had no real experience with candy.
I threw the empty sack in the trash and began to take off my boots.
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