Be careful out there

My daughter was about 4 years old. We were wrapping up a little Christmas shopping at Boscov’s department store in downtown Wilkes-Barre, checking off the last few things on the list Mommy had given us of gifts for aunts, uncles, cousins and the like.
“Before we go home, Greta,” I said, steering her toward the cosmetics counter, “let’s go over here and pick up a few things for Mommy’s stocking.”
“But doesn’t Santa fill Mommy’s stocking?” she asked.
“Well, yes, Greta. Yes, Santa’s fills Mommy’s stocking. Of course Santa fills Mommy’s stocking. But let’s get a few little gifts in case Santa forgets something.”
“Why would Santa forget something? Has Mommy been a bad girl?”
“Oh, no. No. Never. Mommy is always a good girl. It’s just … ”
Greta stood there looking up at me.
Greta stood there looking up at me for what seemed a very long time.
“Wow, look at the time,” I finally said, glancing at my wrist as though there were a watch there. “We’d better get you home to bed. Santa likes it when little girls get to bed on time.”
We sang Christmas carols in the car and decided we’d earned a mug of hot chocolate.
Santa picked up things for Mommy’s stocking another day.

Ed Ackerman