I have a lot of fairly vivid memories of the years of Christmas that I have seen in my 24 years. There was the year I got a bike... the year my sister was sick and didn't open any presents... the year my dad was sick and didn't open any presents (Easter has always been my holiday for getting sick)... the year I got the talking parrot (I know I was like 3 but I swear I remember being excited over the "talking bird")...
The one I remember best happened the year I was in the first grade. Remember how Christmas Eve felt like the longest day EVER back when you were a kid? We always went to bed early so that we could be asleep before Santa arrived, but I remember being in the bed for what felt like hours trying to fall asleep and being too excited to do so.
That year I heard Santa's sleigh bells. They were loud. They were outside my window. I sat up. I heard them again. I knew it was Santa so I buried under the covers and squeezed my little eyes shut. I didn't want Santa to know I wasn't asleep yet and decide to go on to the next house.
I remember going back to school and standing in the hall outside of my class room and telling some kids in line all about hearing Santa's bells. One of them asked why I didn't look out the window, and I can recall that feeling of stupidity as I thought, "yeah. Why didn't I look?"
WARNING: Do NOT keep reading if you are under the age of 12.
When the day came that I learned the truth about Santa (a day I don't really remember), I had a really hard time accepting it because I had heard those bells. I couldn't put it together. What had I heard if it wasn't Santa? It wasn't until a few years later that my dad finally admitted to getting out of bed and jingling some bells under my window. He still gets a laugh over this story everytime. I think he was rather pleased with his ability to keep the magic alive for me.
I suppose I'll be likely to someday be standing under my child's window ringing some bells to get them all the more excited over Santa's gifts. But that's going to be a while from now...