Beginning when I was around twelve years old, my family celebrated Christmas at Uncle Don and Aunt Karen’s house. They lived 131 miles from us, and we visited at least a couple times a year. Their love and kindness were bright stars during my adolescence and teen years.
One year, after my sister and I were grown and married, Aunt Karen proved how creative she could be in bringing smiles to a couple of little faces. With some quick thinking, she saved the day.
I wasn’t there to see it because I arrived the next day. This story was told to me by my mom and sister who saw it all.
My nephew and my cousin’s daughter, who is a couple of years younger than him, were running around the house having a great time. They had big plans for Christmas Eve, including feeding Santa’s reindeer. It was all fun and games until feeding time. That’s when my nephew realized he’d forgotten the reindeer food he made in preschool.
Those two kids were distraught, nearly inconsolable. They’d been looking forward to feeding Santa’s reindeer all day. However, all was not lost. Aunt Karen knew how to make reindeer food. With her proclamation, laughter rang through the house once again.
Aunt Karen went to work whipping up a batch of the special food, which the two kids immediately took out to the back deck. They kept checking on it throughout the evening. Finally they looked out the window to see snow gently falling and the food disappearing as they watched.
Their eyes were huge, and their smiles were contagious. They debated how the reindeer were able to slip onto the deck to eat the food without being seen and finally decided they must be invisible. They never once realized the snow was covering it up, little by little.
The next morning, my nephew experienced true wonder again. Santa had visited and left presents for all of the kids. He was amazed that Old Saint Nick knew where to find him. Mom took the opportunity to tell him that Santa Claus is always watching him, which is why it was so important to always be on his best behavior.
We had many wonderful Christmases at my aunt and uncle’s house, but I think the most magical one was the year of the reindeer food.
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