santa-claus3

 

“Grandpa, what are you doing out here?”

He was standing in the snow

leaning a couple long 2×4’s

against the house.

“I was chasing Santa Claus,”

he explained.

“Almost had him too.”

He handed me one of the

biggest sleigh bells

I’d ever seen.

Then he showed me

two long, straight depressions in the snow.

Santa’s sleigh had taken off

seconds before I burst out the back door

in hot pursuit.

Grandpa was a right jolly old elf

but not the one I was chasing.

 

We walked back inside

recounting our versions of the evening.

Grandpa stayed home to ambush Santa

while the rest of us

drove around looking for him.

After 15 or 20 minutes, someone yelled,

“LOOK!  Rudolph’s nose!

He’s heading toward Grandma and Grandpa’s house!!”

We whipped the car around,

blazed home, and ran inside.

 

In the living room,

presents spilled from

the outstretched limbs of

the glittering Christmas tree.

Kids and grown-ups alike

dove into the pile,

divvying up the loot and ripping open packages.

But I kept running.

 

Just ahead I heard jingling and laughter.

My heart and step quickened

as I strained to lay hold of

or even glimpse

the mystery

cloaked in red.

I was close, so close…

but not as close as Grandpa,

who plucked the jangling fruit

now in my hand.

 

It was still in my hand

as I fell asleep that night

while my new toys lay elsewhere,

half-forgotten.

 

But in the morning, the bell was gone.

“It’s a magic bell,” my mother explained.

“Santa’s bells are so special

they only stay for the night.

Then they disappear.”

 

Years later, I learned

Grandpa had no idea

I was chasing him

as he ran out the back door

ringing that bell.

No one expected me to do that.

He barely had time

to get the 2×4’s out of the snow.

The sleigh bell was a gift from a German friend.

It seemed there was

an explanation for everything.

 

But what made me

dash past presents

in pursuit of something

I’d never seen?

 

I suppose

truth always rings

just ahead of us

and gives us reason

to run.