I think the best part about Christmas is all the memories that go with it.  I have a thousand memories of Christmas as a kid, but one that stands out alone.

I am not sure of the year, but I was probably 8 years old and my brother was 10. He did his best trying to convince me that there was no Santa.  I was at that age of questioning the reality of the jolly old fat guy, but I was hanging on to the thought that he was indeed the Santa I always thought he was. Hard as he tried, my brother never succeeded. What happened that year made even him believe in Santa again.

Every Christmas we would leave the house and  pack up the car for a 4 hour long drive to my grandparent's place to meet with my aunts, uncles and cousins. But this Christmas was different. There was some serious doubt in my mind of the actual existence of Santa.  It was also that Christmas that my brother and I both wanted new bicycles.

My dad was the last one to leave the house before we left for my grandparents' place. So with my mind spinning with all kinds of “no-Santa” thoughts, I made up an excuse to leave the car and go back into the house thinking that Dad (if he was Santa) would have placed those bikes under the tree before we left so they would be there when we returned. So I walked into the house and nothing was different. No bicycles were under the tree.  I returned to the car and off we went with a renewed faith that Santa was real.

We spent Christmas at my grandparents' as we always had, but I couldn't wait to get home to see what was under that tree at our house. I remember the excitement of pulling into the snow covered driveway knowing I would be in the house shortly to see if Santa, and not Dad (since he was with me the whole time), had left those bicycles. We opened the door and there they were. Two red bicycles left by Santa while we were gone.

I yelled so loud Mr. Murphy, who lived down the street from us, probably heard me. It was proof that my brother was wrong. Santa was real and this 8-year-old boy’s doubts went away, at least until next Christmas time.

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I relayed this story some 50 years later to my ailing mother a few of Christmases ago.  She chuckled and finally revealed the secret of that Christmas featuring that Irish guy down the street.  Until that day some 50 years later, I never knew.

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