Santa Flies Space Available

One thing I learned as a child was that Santa also travels on airplanes. I found this out when I was seven, after my family spent an hour waiting on a tarmac for the big guy to fly in. It seemed so amazingly modern to her that Santa would ditch the sleigh and catch a plane, but this was during the Cold War and one could never be too careful.

We shivered in the cold, and jumped up and down to get warm while screaming, “Santa, Santa,” along with the mass of kids crushed against the chain-linked fence. We searched the sky for any expanding point of light to focus on, and there were many false alarms. At last, a star became a beam and the 707 came into view, landed safely and taxied toward the jittery throng. 

Santa emerged through the cargo ramp, the one you can drive tank into, looking like General McArthur in red velvet as he trotted down the ramp. His elves dragged camouflage duffel bags as they followed him over to their side of the fence. Out of the duffels came fairly large, brightly wrapped boxes that were handed to Santa, who dispensed the gifts based on whether the kids were girls or boys.

My brother got a Batmobile, like in the TV show. Me and my sisters all got Japanese Geisha dolls, with tiny feet locked into place on lacquer pedestals. Mine was a lady in red with dangly things in her hair. Julie got the orange kimono lady, holding a black scarf over her head. Anne got the yellow kimono doll. Her oldest sister Cynthia, who towered over the others, received the tallest doll, wearing a blue and white kimono. Together on a shelf in her aging parents house, those dolls formed a Japanese-styled tableau of the four sisters as grown, kimonoed women. After Cynthia died, I laid down the tall doll and arranged the other dolls in a circle of mourning, the way their lives actually worked out.

I don’t remember if Santa got back on that plane or not.

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