This incident happened when I was about 6 years old. My mom, dad, brother and I were living on an isolated homestead 10 miles northeast of Willits, Calif. Our only close neighbor lived about a mile from us, and our family sort of adopted him as part of our family. His name was Dick Tenney. He was a heavy-set old man with a long white beard. About twice a year my dad would cut his hair and trim his beard.
Well, it was Christmas Eve, and my dad brought a small Douglas fir Christmas tree into the cabin. Mom, with all of us helping, decorated the tree. We were using popcorn strings tied to the Christmas tree limbs. We had strips of colored paper made into rings, fastened to form a long line we wrapped around and around the tree. Somehow my Aunt Mae and Uncle Vern had acquired an image of an angel and given it to my mother. So, of course, that angel was put on top of the tree. Mom and Aunt Mae swapped that angel back and forth for 30 years.
The one package placed under the tree for each person was opened. Afterwards, I hugged Mom and thanked her for my present. I said, “I got a nice present, but Santa did not bring the ax I asked for.” I desperately wanted an ax like the men used to chop wood and do a hundred other things for which they were used.
Well, at that very moment there was commotion out in the yard. Someone hollered, “Ho! Ho! Ho!” bells were jingling, the front door of that old cabin burst open and Santa came bouncing in. He had a long, white beard, and he wore a red cap with a white tassel on top, a red coat and a sack slung over his back. He bent down and opened his sack, and a few presents fell out, and one of them was a bright shiny short-handled ax. Then he was gone.
Many Christmases have come and gone during my 88 years, but that one is as vivid in my mind’s eye today as it was the night it happened, and I rate it as one of the best Christmases I have ever had.
This is a true story; it happened to me in the early 1930s. Don’t try to tell me there isn’t a Santa Claus.