What was your favourite Christmas present ever? People love to ask the question around this time of year and I usually answer that my favourite gift was the one I received the year I learned that Santa was REAL.
I was about 6 years old and my mother took me to the local barbershop for my holiday haircut. In those days, barbers generally had small one man shops in local neighborhoods. This was no exception and the barber and his family lived in the house attached to the storefront shop on Victoria Street in Kitchener, Ontario. I have long forgotten his name but I remember the snowy day in mid December when we walked over so that I would look clean and neat for Church on the big day. I was too short to sit in the big barber's chair without a board being placed across the arms to bring me up to "cutting height."
During the session that did not include washing, rinsing, razor cutting, highlighting, blow drying or even a hand held mirror, the portly barber in his white smock inquired what I wanted from Santa Claus while my mother glanced through the aging magazines on the side table. I proceeded to describe the red dump truck that I had seen in the Eatons catalog and how much I hoped that my letter to the North Pole would result in this wonderful gift. I told him that I had even been downtown to see the wonderful old elf in the red suit and asked him personally about this magnificent treasure.
The barber suggested that I should go to bed early on Christmas Eve and that if I was really good, maybe my dream would come true... if I had been a good boy throughout the year. That gave me pause because I wasn't sure if I had kept my end of the bargain about being good. I had two younger sisters and a new baby brother after all and was not absolutely certain that I had always been as good to them as  I should - I still suffer from that anxiety. Over the next few days I continued to pour over the catalog and the pages and pages of gifts and toys, all the while wishing and hoping for the red dump truck.
Christmas Eve arrived and a long night ensued but finally the all clear was sounded and we learned that Santa had been there. It was still dark outside as I crept down the stairs and hurried to the tree. My heart still skips a beat at the thought of discovering the red dump truck! The milk glass was empty and there were some cookie crumbs still on the plate.
There had been some skepticism around the magic of Christmas or perhaps it was just a situation where I didn't understand what it was all about - but never again. Santa Claus proved his existence by listening to my hopes and dreams, and regardless of what any of the older kids say, the magic of the season is still alive and well to this day.
May Santa Claus fill your stockings with everything you dream of and may next year be your best ever.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night