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Bonne écoute !
You may not believe in Santa Claus, at least not at your current age, but if you celebrate Christmas, you know there was a time when you believed with all your heart, a time when you weren’t quite sure, and a time when the truth became all too clear. The 12 stories that follow reflect a mix of those emotions and events, told by the man - then boy - who experienced them in the early 1950s.
As anyone who has experienced Christmas morning can tell you, there will be joy and pain, disappointment, and even heartbreak - the whole panoply of emotions on proud and not-so-proud display. Most of the stories are funny, and some are poignant; all are meant to remind you of your own stories of those halcyon days when you laid in bed with toothpicked eyes, trying with all your might to stay awake long enough to see the jolly old elf.
And so we begin. I am eight again, tugging on shoes too small and holey mittens warmed overnight on the living room radiator. I have already donned two pairs of pants and my only three shirts to brace myself against the cold. My mother appears beside me, young and pretty as always, insisting I wear my Christmas scarf, a scratchy abomination as long as an anaconda, knitted loosely and tightly by my Aunt Louise, using a geometry known only to her. Despite my protests, she wraps Scarf Louisienne around my neck several times and nudges me toward the front door.
Outside, the world is white and still, the only sound the whisper of the falling snow. I lift my head to the snowy heavens, stick out my tongue, and accept winter’s cold communion. Come, we have much to see.