Three in morning, Vinnie is stirring and so is Dexter. “Rupert, Rupert, wakeup buddy. I think I hear Santa’s sleigh.”
Vinnie climbs out of bed and heads toward the window. This move confuses Dexter. The window is the place where he barks at the trash truck, the recycle truck, and the mail truck. He knows he supposed to do this because he is a dog and all dogs do it. It is part of the human and dog treaty signed eons ago.
Vinnie gets to the window, peeks behind the shade and screams, “Mom. Dad, it snowed. I think I see Santa’s sleigh marks in the snow. I see his footprints, too. Are you awake, Mom? Dad, wake up! Let’s open presents.”
Vinnie bolts out of his bedroom, Dexter starts barking and chases Vinnie. Rupert silently goes along for the ride tucked securely under Vinnie’s arm. Vinnie slams on the brakes stopping inches from his mom, “That’s far enough, Vinnie. It’s only three o’clock. It’s much too early to open presents. Let’s go back to bed. You know our tradition. We get up and look in our stockings. We eat breakfast, then we get ready for church. After church, we’ll open all the presents. Gramma and Grampa will be here. They’re going to meet us at church and come home with us.”
“Mom, Mom, can I look. Please, please, please Mom can I look?” begs Vinnie.
“Okay, hold my hand and we’ll peek in to see if Santa came,” says Vinnie’s mom.
“Mom, he came. He came. I saw his tracks in the snow. Mom, it snowed just for Santa. He ate the cookies and drank the milk. I know he came, Mom,” says Vinnie with all the excitement he usually reserves for the last day of school.
Vinnie holding Rupert tightly against his chest, his mom, and Dexter walk toward the living room. Vinnie’s mom has hold of Vinnie’s hand as she readies herself for Vinnie’s reaction. The glow of Christmas lights illuminate the living room.
Vinnie whispers to his mom, “Mom, what if Santa’s still in the living room? Will he be mad if he sees me? What if Dexter thinks Santa is a burglar and attacks him?”
Vinnie’s mom smiles, “I think Santa has already been here. Did you say you saw his sleigh tracks in the snow? Besides, the only way Dexter might attack Santa is if Santa is carrying a box of hamburgers.”
“You’re really smart, Mom. Anybody ever tell you that?” asks Vinnie.
Vinnie’s Mom smiles at Vinnie, but doesn’t let of his hand. They step toward the entry of the living room.
“Wow! Wow! Wow! Owe! Mom, let me go. I want to see my presents. Please, Mom. Please. Please. Please.”
“No, Vinnie. Merry Christmas. It looks like Santa thinks you’ve been very good this year.”
“I really tried, Mom. I really tried my best,” says Vinnie feeling a gravitational pull toward the Christmas tree.
“Vinnie, you and Rupert are to go to bed. I want a promise you will not get up until I call you in the morning.”
“Mom, you and dad always sleep in on days you don’t work.”
“I promise, I will open your door at six. If you’re awake you can get up and take your sock down from the mantel. I meant to tell you, I put up an extra sock for you because the sock Gramma gave you is too small.”
“Oh, Mom. You’re the best Mom. You’re better than Joey’s mom and she’s really nice.”
At 7 a.m. Vinnie sits on the living room rug, the contents of his two socks spilled on the rug in front of him. Vinnie’s mom and dad sit on the sofa drinking coffee watching Vinnie.
“Bagels and cream cheese and peanut butter are on the table, Vinnie. Let’s eat so we’ll have time to get ready for Mass. We’ll meet Gramma and Gramps and come home together. Dad will put on his Santa hat and give out the presents. I think this is going to be the best Christmas ever,” says Vinnie’s mom.
Vinnie’s dad places his hands on Vinnie’s mom’s waist and kisses her. Vinnie interrupts their kiss, “That’s disgusting. You’re passing germs. You don’t want to be sick for Christmas.”
Vinnie’s mom glances toward Vinnie, “One day, when you’re older you will enjoy kissing your special girl.”
“It won’t be until I’m real old like you, right, Mom?”
Vinnie’s mom looks into his dad’s eyes, “Do I look old, dear? Be honest.”
“Be honest, Dad. Don’t lie. Santa can hear everything you say. Dad, did you get Mom’s present from Home Depot? I warned you not to go there,” says Vinnie.
Vinnie’s dad beams, “I took your advice, Vinnie and I bought Mom’s gift online. I even have a gift receipt so she can exchange it. I hope Mom likes a leaf shredder.”
“You’re kidding, right, Dad?”
Santa didn’t give Vinnie everything he wanted, but Vinnie was happy with what he received. Vinnie’s Mom was happy she didn’t get a set of socket wrenches, but plans to exchange the eight quart Instant Pot tomorrow. Vinnie’s Dad was screaming with delight over his gift. Santa gave him two tickets for the opening game to baseball season for the Boston Red Sox. Dexter finished his gift of doggie treats in thirty seconds flat. And, Rupert now has friend, a smaller sized black bear. Vinnie hasn’t named him or her yet.
Vinnie wishes you all a very merry Christmas. Feliz Navidad.