Shortly after school resumed, Bob beat me home, but didn’t go in. Instead, he stooped and picked up a large, soft-covered volume.
I couldn’t stifle my curiosity. “Whatcha got?”
“The Christmas catalog, nosy. Here, take it.”
“Already? It’s still summer.” But, I took the book inside and dropped my homework on the couch. I scanned past page after page of clothes and tools, but stopped when I saw the wonderful toys, in full color. Of course, Christmas was a good three months away, so I placed the catalog on the coffee table and ran outside.
Summer finally ended, and Halloween caught my attention. However, the glossy images in the catalog enticed me whenever I had a spare moment, and I pored over the tantalizing choices, my heart cloaked in greed.
By the time I’d eaten all my trick-or-treat candy, the slick images drew me in without mercy. One day, I wanted a slot car race track. The next, I had my hopes fixed on a giant set of Civil War soldiers, in blue and gray. So many choices.
Santa arrived in the last float on the Thanksgiving Day Parade, beginning the official Christmas season, and I concentrated on my behavior, with mixed success.
However, the December days crawled by, and I complained to Mom. She wasn’t sympathetic. “Concentrate on your schoolwork, not the catalog.”
On Christmas Eve, I couldn’t sleep, and Mom gave me a hug. “Go to bed. Santa won’t come while you’re awake.”
I knew, but my plan didn’t include sleep. The seeds planted by the catalog’s arrival three months earlier had grown to an unquenchable desire, and I kept my eyes open, while I waited in bed. This time, I’d hear reindeer on the roof. This year, I’d stay awake and catch him. But, I never did.
William R. Bartlett lives in Belton with his family.