Sometimes Santa wears a uniform

The Nevada Appeal's tradition of publishing Holiday Memories written by our readers resumes today and will continue through Christmas. Thanks to all those who took time to share their stories.

- Editor Barry Smith

By Margie Benitez


The smell of fresh bread in the oven creeps into our rooms. As we jump out of bed, we can't wait to see what is under the tree. Mama would make such a beautiful home for the holidays, decorations everywhere!

Mama won a contest for the most original house every year for five years. Baby Jesus, the three wise men, Mary and Joseph and all those angels! They would grace our lawn ever year, and every year we were fascinated at our mother's talent. Having fresh bread for breakfast and smelling all the wonderful sweets Mama was making would just drive us wild. My three sisters and I would gather around the tree and wonder what Santa had brought us.

This Christmas would be a little different, though. Our father wasn't going to be there even though I really can't remember him ever being there anyway. I know he did live with us and we ate together. I know that he bought us things and we lived sort of a normal life, well at least as normal as you can be for the '60s.

We all stumbled out of bed as usual, and went to the living room to see what was waiting for us under the tree. Only this time, there wasn't anything there. "OK, we were bad," but I really don't think we were that bad.

Mama poked around the corner from the kitchen and called us to the table. We sat there silent for a moment and waited patiently. Any minute Santa is going to come around the corner and say surprise! This never happened, and neither did Christmas. We had food, we had goodies, and we had each other. That was all that mattered. I guess being so small we should have cried or something, but Mama said not to worry, and we didn't.

A few hours later, a knock at the door came and there stood a man in full uniform. As we opened the door, he saluted us and walked in and hugged my mother. She began to cry in his arms. Who was this man and why is Mama hugging him? We began to cry too. The next thing I remember, we are driving and then we are picking out toys, any toy we wanted. Anything. It was ours. I can remember looking up at this man and thinking Santa is in the Army? Maybe that is why he was late getting to us?

That was the most exciting Christmas ever. Not only did we learn a little about real love, but we learned that Santa really does exist and he comes in all shapes, sizes and uniforms.

God bless the men out there who take on the roll of daddy to the fatherless. Children who are so innocent should not suffer this time of year. If you know someone in need, please be that child's Santa. You can really make an impact on a child's life.

-- Margie Benitez is a Dayton resident.


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