Santa just drove by our house.
I was changing my daughter’s diaper, and I happened to look out the window and there he was, in all his red and white glory, riding silently and slowly passed on an antique fire truck.
I stared, diaper in hand.
Being 34, a mother, a writer, a wife, a bald cancer patient, and a fierce Santa enthusiast, I immediately panicked. I couldn’t miss him. Should I run out and forget her diaper? I looked down at my little daughter. I thought that may be pushing it, so I threw on a diaper but left her shoeless and pant-less, scooped her up and ran out the front door screaming, “SANTA!”
When I was a child, Santa would ride by our house every Christmas Eve in a fire truck with the lights on and because we knew the fire chief, Santa would even stop at our house and walk up all those front steps to give us a candy cane. That magical moment when we heard him on the bullhorn, the engine roaring up Larchmont St., my sisters and I would dash from all sections of the house, screaming, “SANTA’S HERE!” We did that well into our twenties.
I could hear the purr of the antique fire truck at the corner. Neighborhood children and their parents were lining up.
I charged across my snow-capped lawn at full speed with my daughter under my arm like a football. Even though the fire truck was parked, I still felt the urge to scream his name again, in case he jumped on and sped away without seeing us. Huge tears welled in my eyes and I had a hard time stopping them, my feet in their own weird Olympics, hurtling down my street as if I were running to a long-lost lover across the train platform. For that moment I became the crazy lady, my cancer cap riding up over my ears, my unclothed daughter in the cold air, being so needy that I was blind to my own absurdity. I so badly wanted my child to have a normal Christmas. Maybe I wanted one, too. But I kept running until I got there to where a curious Santa stood.
I said, out of breath, my legs shaking from the sprint, “Thank you, Santa,” crying but pretending nobody saw, so oddly eternally grateful for the little candy cane he handed me.