Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas Magic by Sarah J. McNeal

There is a certain magic in childhood surrounding Christmas. As a kid, I really and truly with all my heart believed in Santa Claus. As sure as the world Santa was coming to my house in his sleigh with his 8 reindeer loaded up with the presents I yearned to have on Christmas day. Belief is a powerful thing. People have conquered nations because they had a deep belief in something.

Mom and me when I was 3 on my grandmother's farm in PA 

I bugged my mother every day from December first until Christmas day with "Is it Christmas yet?" She must have had the patience of Mother Teresa to make it through the month without snapping.
Like most 5 year old kids, the excitement and anticipation for me was almost more than I could bear.
I remember going to the Sears and Roebuck department store and entering the Toy Section. It was a place where wishes were certain to come true. I went into sensory overload gazing at all the wonderful toys on display. And then there was Santa sitting there on his red throne ready to make my dreams comes true in spite of the fact that my parents said I couldn't have everything on my list. My sister and I tried not to fall asleep on Christmas Eve so we could get to see Santa. In spite of our best intentions we never made it.

 My sister, Mary, and me on our first Christmas in NC

Eventually, the time came when I turned 8 and the cynic in me awoke. Rumors began to float about school from other kids that there was no Santa, that it was just our parents buying and putting those toys under the tree. Say it isn't so! My sister and I decided to launch an investigation. If our parents bought those presents, they must  be hiding them somewhere. So we searched the house top to bottom until, finally, we arrived at their bed. One look under that bed revealed the harsh truth. Mom and Pop were Santa. Our discovery left me feeling a little adrift and empty for a short while.
Of course, I couldn't go on believing in Santa forever, but I wished I could have held on just one more year before the magic evaporated. Naturally, I made the necessary adjustments to my Christmas strategies once I knew my parents were the ones buying the gifts. A kid would have to be crazy not to try a few cons and work on some brown-nosing techniques to get parents to buy certain gifts. Unfortunately, my parents were impervious to persuasion and manipulation. Christmas was still fun, but different from the time when I "believed."
As an adult I can see why parents like to keep the myth of Santa alive because, through children and their innocent enthusiasm, we regain some of that special magic that Christmas once held for us.
I wish each of you a wonderful Christmas Season filled with the love of friends and family, good food, and perhaps a touch of magic.

Sarah J. McNeal is a multi-published author of several genres including time travel, paranormal, western and historical fiction. She is a retired ER and Critical Care nurse who lives in North Carolina with her four-legged children, Lily, the Golden Retriever and Liberty, the cat. Besides her devotion to writing, she also has a great love of music and plays several instruments including violin, bagpipes, guitar and harmonica. Her books and short stories may be found at Prairie Rose Publications and its imprints Painted Pony Books, and Fire Star Press. Some of her fantasy and paranormal books may also be found at Publishing by Rebecca Vickery and Victory Tales Press. She welcomes you to her website and social media:



  1. Oh, Sarah, I wrote about learning there wasn't a real Santa in my story for Memories From Maple Street for the Christmas edition. My best friend, a year older than I was, told me. I got SOOO mad at her! I ran home to tell my dad, and of course, the moment of truth was at hand. He admitted that he and my mom were not only Santa, but the Easter Bunny AND the Tooth Fairy! LOL I was just heartbroken! You and your sister must have had all kinds of adventures together being so close in age. BTW, I had one of those bathinette things for my dolls, too. Must have been a big deal back then. LOL I'd forgotten all about it until I saw this picture on FB the other day.

    Merry Christmas! Hope you have a wonderful holiday!

  2. I never hear kids talk about a doll bathinette these days. For my sister it was quite an advancement. She loved washing her dolls and their clothes in the commode. Lordy! She was a weird kid--and a weirder grownup, but she and I certainly worked together, both for good and evil, as kids. My parents thought we were funny. Even when we burned down the closet with a paper mache' pumpkin. Of course, we were punished for that, but we overheard them laughing about it in the kitchen when they thought we were asleep. Too late to give us comfort then...not that it deterred us from further adventures. Having a partner in crime helps because, what one doesn't thing of, the other one does. Luckily, our parents picked their battles or there would have been war every day.
    I have not read the Memories From Maple Street stories yet. I have a couple anthologies I haven't finished reading before I can move on to something new. I've been wrapped up in Wildings and haven't come up for air yet. I'd love to get some cocoa and cinnamon toast, sit by the fire and read to my heart's content.
    I'm so happy you came over and commented, Cheryl. It was gettin' kinda lonesome here. Everyone is out getting their Christmas together. Thank you for coming.

  3. Oh, how wonderful...a story about believing in something. Indeed, believing in Santa Claus was certainly required. Or so we thought. Our older sister was more like an aunt so Nancy and I, only 16 months apart certainly believed in, and talked about Santa Claus. Even so, we really did know Mother was the one who put those exciting packages under the tree. In fourth grade, my little sister and I asked, begged for...bicycles. Late on Christmas eve, when everyone else was asleep, my sister and I crept to the tree. There we saw two little white boxes in the boughs, which turned out to be identical lockets, the kind that open. We found two small white Testaments...well, two of everything, identical. But where were the bicycles? We tiptoed to the window and looked out into the darkness. No bicycles on the porch. Sad and tired, we went back to bed. We did like our gifts that Christmas, but we were not excited or jubilant. No bicycles.
    Please read my story in Memories From Maple Street. You and I have similar experiences. Over the years, I have written what I call A WEST TEXAS GIRL GROWS UP--"Anecdotal Tales From My Childhood."--one day, I will put all these--about 30 of them--into a book/novella. Probably this will be to benefit me and make me happy. I really don't think any of my family will care.

  4. When I read your comment, Celia, I, once again, realized how very similar our life experiences have been. I, too, had a sister so much older that she seemed like a relative much like an aunt. She married when she was 16 which greatly upset my parents, but my childhood memories mostly do not include her. My sister and I were 13 months apart. We were treated more like twins. We often got the same things, only in different colors so we knew which one was ours. We were not made to share (my parents were different from most), but we were so close, we shared most things just naturally. Mom made us clothes alike. I always got a second run on the clothes when my sister outgrew hers and I got to wear it.
    I wanted a bicycle, too, but I got my oldest sister's hand-me-down bike instead of a new one. I didn't mind so much. At least I had a bike.
    My grandmother gave my sister and me white bibles with our names printed on them. Mine is worn out. I was afraid it would fall apart so I had to buy another one to use. My sister's is, as far as I know, still in the box as pristine as the day she got it. LOL
    It's always such a joy to read what you have to say. You make it so interesting. Of course, I'll read your story. I haven't purchased Memories From Maple Street yet, but it's on the top of my list. I'm looking forward to reading it. I want to see what others write and how they write their memories. I'd like to give it a try one day, but I'm intimidated about writing memoires. I'm a poky reader. I read and savor every word. I really need to take a break and read for a while. I know I'm going to thoroughly enjoy reading your story.
    Thank you so much for your wonderful comment.

  5. Sarah, please do write your memories down! Those are so important to future generations and get lost when they're not written. I was so into Santa as a child and have wonderful memories of when I was young and we lived in Southern California near my much older (my mom's age) half-siblings. Santa came to visit early at our family gatherings and his suit was very convincing. My brother-in-law knew Santa personally and collected him (his older brother) from the airport so he could visit our family gathering before he had to go back to the airport to catch his plane to the North Pole so he could get in his sleigh. I so wish someone would have taken photos of us getting our toys, but no one did as far as I know.

  6. Caroline, it's so sweet that you had an actual Santa come to your house. Did you ever realize it was your brother-in-law's brother? That was so much effort put into making a child happy. I would have blown a gasket if a "real Santa" had shown up at our house.
    It's odd even in my family how many opportunities for pictures were missed. I think everyone is so caught up in the excitement they forget to mark the moment with a photo.
    Thank you so much for coming. I know how busy everyone is this time of year. I wish you a very Merry Christmas!

  7. Merry Christmas, Sarah! Great memories!

    1. Thank you, Paty. I hope your Christmas is the best ever!


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