All I Got for Christmas Was Santa by Ilene Miele
December 26, 2014 § 2 Comments
My husband and I grew up only a few miles away from one another without ever meeting until a Christmas party when we were each attending different colleges.
A friend from my English class, who was dating his roommate, asked for my help with planning the party. Somehow she’d gotten hold of a costume and wanted to surprise her boyfriend by secretly inviting his roommate to play Santa. “It will be just like a department store,” she said. “Everyone will take a turn sitting on Santa’s lap. And won’t he be surprised when he figures out who Santa really is.”
I arrived early to set up in the basement and to help get the roommate into the Santa costume. That all went without a hitch, but before many other guests had arrived—the boyfriend showed up—and her mom called downstairs for her to come greet him. “Quick,” my friend said, as she headed upstairs, “you sit on Santa’s lap, so when we come down it will be his turn next.”
So I sat on Santa’s lap. And sat—and sat—and sat. She didn’t come back with her boyfriend for about twenty minutes, and the rest, as they say, is history.
It’s been forty-three years since that encounter, and we’re among the handful of couples we know from back then who are still married to one another.
Our story makes for interesting party chatter. But, as I was recounting it a few years ago, what occurred to me was that maybe the joke had not been on the boyfriend at all, but on us. Perhaps the whole thing had been a set up—designed by the two of them to throw us together.
Still, I prefer to think it was serendipity that day when I got Santa for Christmas.
Ilene Miele is a native New Yorker who lives in southern California. She teaches writing at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she is co-editor ofStarting Lines, an annual anthology of student writing.