Tammy couldn’t sleep. It was Christmas Eve, after all. The grandfather clock at the bottom of the stairs chimed eleven times. She counted each one on her fingers.
Soon, another sound caught her ears; she looked across the room to the window seat. Oliver, her cat, was batting the frosted panes to catch snowflakes as they drifted beyond the window.
Dressed in a white flannel gown, she moved to sit next to him. “Do you think Santa can see in all this snow?” Oliver lunged at another snowflake; his paws making a soft thump on the paneled glass.
“Some people don’t believe in Santa. How Silly is that?” She stroked his head. “They say he’s just make-believe.” She watched a snow flake on the window melt into a tiny rivulet. “I’ll always believe, Oliver. Always.”
The door to her room opened quietly, a sliver of yellow light from the hallway fell across her empty bed. “Tammy?”
“I’m here, daddy. Oliver was making too much noise and I couldn’t sleep.”
“He was, was he? He came into the room and lifted Oliver into his lap as he sat next to her. “Silly kitty.” He stroked Oliver’s ears.
Tammy looked out the window. “Do you think Santa can find us in all this snow?”
“Well, he does have Rudolph; and we did leave the front porch light on. But even if he did, remember what Mama said - he can’t come inside until we’re asleep.”
Tammy sighed. “I left him some cookies.”
“I know; I saw them. I’m sure Santa will be very grateful.”
“How come he can’t come until we’re asleep?”
“I don’t know, but we can find out if it’s true or not.”
“Why don’t we go downstairs to the den and wait by the tree.”
Tammy’s eyes grew large. “But he might not come.”
He shrugged. “Those are the chances we take.” He got up, handing Oliver into her lap. “You with me or not?” The clock chimed the half hour. “There’s not much time, so we best hurry.”
A shadow darkened the doorway into the room. “What’s all the chatter? I thought everyone was supposed to be in bed asleep.”
“Mama, daddy wants to go down and see Santa when he comes, but you said he can’t come unless we’re asleep.”
“That’s what I’ve always been told; but I could be wrong.” She yawned sleepily.
“I think what mom just said is right, Tammy. What she was told could be wrong. I mean it seems if you believe in something it will be true whether you’re asleep or not.” He reached for her hand. “Let’s go down and find out.”
The clocked chimed three-quarters of the hour; Tammy’s eyes grew larger with each stroke. She let Oliver jump from her lap and took her father’s hand.
“How exciting,” her mother said in the hallway as she took Tammy’s other hand. At the top of the stairs, she bent and whispered. “You did say you believed, didn’t you? I think that’s very important.”
Tammy nodded, and squeezed both parent’s hands. “I do believe. I really, really do.”
Half-way down the stairwell her mother asked, “Did I tell you I thought I saw a blinking red light flashing across the sky a few minutes ago? What ever do you think that means?”
The clock outside the den’s door began to chime midnight. Tammy darted from her parent’s grasp to the closed door. Noises could be heard inside the room. Sparkling colored lights swirled beneath the doorsill and spilled out onto the floor.
Breathlessly, she opened the door just as the clock struck midnight. Suddenly, the noise and lights inside the den vanished. Tammy stood surprised outside the hushed-dark and vacant room, her face stilled. She rushed through the door. “Oh my…oh mommy, oh daddy, come look and see.”
Her parents hurried into the room. Tammy stood in a soft, solitary pool of light coming from a table lamp where she’d placed the cookies for Santa. Beside the lamp sat an empty plate with a note. Eyes shining, she handed it to her dad.
“Tammy,” he read. “Asleep or awake if your heart is gladdened, I’ll always be there. Your heart makes the imagined real.
PS: Thanks for the cookies – I saved one to share with the reindeer.”
The tree lights blinked on. Flecks of twinkling lights danced over what Santa had left. Not just gifts tied with ribbon, but so much more. Gladdened hearts, all - a child’s faith restored.
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