The Life and Times of Lee Graham: Chapter Six, Part Three, Christmas With Mrs. White -- Santa Clause!

Chapter Six, Part Two, Christmas With Mrs. White -- Santa Clause!
 
Snow was falling as Polly and her children walked back up Main St. behind Mrs. White and Esther.  This seemed like this was the Christmas Lee had always hoped for.  Here he was with the mother and sister he loved, in the company of friends.  The snow was perfect, making the whole of Alma look soft and fresh.  He didn't mind the cold at all, realizing that by morning this snow would be just right for sledding.  If only he had a sled!  Then it occurred to him to wonder if somewhere in her great big house, Mrs. White had a sled he could borrow.  Lee let go of his mother's hand and doubled up his pace until he stood between Mrs. White and her lady servant. 
 
"I was just wondering, Ma'am...I don't mean to be pushy...but I wondered if maybe you own a sled?" 
 
Mrs. White stopped dead in her tracks and Esther stopped in her own.  The both looked down at the boy who'd turned to face them.  "I'm sorry," he said.  "I shouldn't have asked." 
 
Mrs. White and Esther exchanged a look Lee couldn't decipher.  Then Mrs. White answered him.  "There is no reason you should not ask if I own a sled," she told the boy.  "I am not offended in the least.  Unfortunately, I do not own a sled."  Lee failed to notice the emphasis she placed on the word,  I. 
 
"Neither do I," added Esther, also emphasizing that last word. 
 
Both women were smiling and Lee wondered why it made them so happy to not have a sled.  "Oh...well," he said.  "Thanks anyway."  Then, he took hold of his mother's hand once more and continued the walk in silence, thinking of all the things he might use in the place of a sled.  A cookie sheet could do, possibly a smooth board, maybe the lid of a large pan.  He would have to see what he could find in the morning. 
 
When the family arrived back at Mrs. White's all the lights were lit along her front walk and Lee could see through the window curtains that lights were lit inside the house as well.  He was sure they had left the place in darkness when they headed to church earlier, so the boy ran ahead of the two older women. 
 
"Wait," he told them.  "I don't think we should go inside." 
 
"Lee, come right back here," said his mother.
 
"Why on Earth not?" asked Mrs. White. 
 
"Of course, we're going inside," said Esther.  "That's where the eggnog is!"
 
"But the lights," said Lee.  "We didn't leave them lit! Someone has been here while we were out and they might still be inside!"
 
"Do you think so?" asked Mrs. White sounding excited.
 
"Oh I hope so!" cried Esther, rushing toward the door.  "I've always wanted to meet him!"
 
Lee was sure the two women had lost their senses.  He watched as they raced into the house, but he did not follow.  He turned to his mother who was carrying a sleeping Livie.  Polly wore a huge grin. 
 
"Lee," she said.  "You should go on in." 
 
"But, Mother..."
 
"You don't want to miss the chance to see Santa Clause, do you?" 
 
It took a moment for that to sink in, but, when it did, Lee burst through the front door.  There he was!  Santa Clause stood before the fireplace sipping eggnog and eating one of Miss Esther's home-made sugar cookies shaped like a wreath. 
 
"Santa," cried Lee, throwing himself into the big man's arms.  "I didn't believe in you before, but now I do!  Santa, I'm so glad you are real." 
 
That's when Livie woke up and saw the red-suited man hugging her brother.  The little girl jumped from her mother's arms to the ground and wrapped herself around one of Santa Clause's booted legs.  "I love you!" she shouted.  "What did you bring me?" 
 
And then Santa burst into laughter.  His belly really did shake and his eyes really did twinkle.  "Ho, Ho, Ho!" he shouted.  "Look under the tree and you will see what gifts are there for both of ye."
 
The very first think Lee spotted was a sled!  He ran to it and pulled it out into the middle of the room.  "Is this for me?" 
 
"Of course, it's for you," said Santa Clause. 
 
And then Lee was hugging the big man again.  "Thank you, thank you, Santa!  I promise I'll be careful with it!" 
 
"You'd better be," said Polly.  "I don't want you crashing into a tree!" 
 
Livie was unwrapping package after package.  There were dolls and dresses for the dolls.  There were dresses for Livie herself and hair ribbons and shoes.  Best of all, there was a great woolen shawl for the girl to wrap up in whenever she was cold.  There were more gifts for Lee too.  Of course, there were clothes and shoes, a brand new hat made of bright green wool.  There were also a toy truck made of wood and a set of magnets.  There were a fishing pole and a bucket for carrying his catch.  His favorite gift was a book called The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.  The book had pictures and it was long.  Lee couldn't wait to start reading!
 
There were presents for all the grown-ups too, even one for Santa.  Mrs. White gave him a bottle of something she said would warm him up as he continued his journey taking presents to children all around the world. 
 
When it came time for Santa Clause to leave, he told everyone in the room to close their eyes and count to ten.  "You're not allowed to see my sleigh when it comes to get me, but, if you close your eyes as tight as can be, you'll be able to hear it." 
 
So Lee did as he was told and sealed his eyes tight and covered them with both his hands.  He started to count and almost immediately heard the sound of bells jingle jangling as the sleigh came closer.  Then, just as it seemed the sleigh must be right in the room with him, the sound stopped and Lee reached ten.  He opened his eyes and swung around to find that Santa Clause and his sleigh were gone. 
 
Both the Graham children slept happily that night in Mrs. White's home.  Their mother slept too and, for the first time in many years, she slept deeply and long.  It was the best Christmas of Lee Graham's life. 
 
 

* Lulabelle Gimlin is an SL RP character of Stephanie Mesler.  The Life and Times of Lou Graham is copyright Stephanie Mesler, 2014.  This story may be reprinted for inworld RP purposes with proper attribution to its author, Lulabelle Gimlin (Stephanie Mesler). 

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