We have not visited Santa this year. We have entered no shopping malls, paid for no photographs, and endured not one single moment of waiting in any faux wonderland.

Instead, as is the tradition in this merry little town we now call home, Santa came to us. In a red sled, on a brown trailer, pulled by a grey pickup truck. Flanked by a police escort.

If the setup sounds wacky, that is only because you have not seen the magic firsthand. Sirens and lights roused us to our windows, as a cruiser drove along the street promising, “Santa is coming. Santa is coming.”

My kids grabbed hats and coats and tumbled out into the darkness. Sure enough, moments later, Santa rounded the corner—going maybe 9 miles an hour—and the whole party pulled up right in front of our house. 

My kids got down to business one, two, three.

Katie requested a Science kit.

Lizzie presented an itemized list with “PURPL UNNECORN” printed at the top.

And Henry, the littlest one, gazed at the cars and trucks all aglow, and quietly asked if Santa would take him to visit his grandparents in Ohio. Santa chuckled, smiled wearily, and said, “I really wish I could, buddy. Maybe Mom can help you with that one.” 

Henry pondered this as he hopped away with a candy cane. I liked that Santa suggested Mom might have enchanted powers that he himself did not.

The kids presented Santa and his entourage with a paper plate of homemade cookies.  And Katie added, “I also wish for everyone else to get their wishes tonight.” 

“No one has ever asked me for that before,” Santa replied. “I’ll see what I can do.”  Then the bedazzled Christmas train lumbered off into the darkness. 

It seemed to me that Katie was confusing Santa with a genie, as though she could keep wishing for more wishes, the ultimate Christmas loophole. But Santa saw the loveliness in her request, and had honored the goodness in all three of my children, something I often fail to do. 

The whole visit lasted only a few minutes, and was like a page from a storybook—one of 1001 tales you might tell late at night.  About that time when you were a kid, and Santa came to your house, promised you a unicorn, gave you some candy, and drove away in a little red sled, on a brown trailer, pulled by a grey pickup truck.