One Last Christmas Story

It happened on Christmas Eve, last night. It took place in an ordinary Georgia living room. It was late. Elevenish. The Christmas tree was glowing. A space heater was humming.

Five-year-old Samantha was fast asleep on the sofa waiting for Santa Claus to arrive.

They call her “Sam.” The girl has tight brunette curls and eyes like a Kewpie doll. The irony here is that Sam announced back in October that she quit believing in Santa. And to be honest, who could blame her? This year has been ridiculously hard on children.

When the pandemic hit, her dad lost his job. He took a new job driving eighteen wheelers, and it’s been hard on Samantha’s family. Her father has been all over the U.S. this year, far from home. In fact, he almost didn’t make it home for Christmas. This is what earning a steady paycheck looks like sometimes.

“Santa isn’t real,” Sam told her dad over and again.

“Yes he is,” said Dad.

“How do you know he’s real? Have you ever seen him?”

“Well, no, but I’ve never seen a billion dollars, either.”

No matter how her dad tried to convince her, skepticism is a condition that cannot be undone without granite proof. Sam’s dad finally suggested how about Sam stay up late on Christmas Eve to see for herself.

Well, it sounded like a good idea. The only problem was, Sam is a girl with an IQ in the quintuple digits. She was not to be convinced easily.

Even so. Here she was, lying on this sofa, this miniature Doubting Thomas, holding onto a final thread of childhood.

The first noise to waken the girl was a deep rumbling sound. Like a diesel earthquake. This was followed by her dog, growling at the backdoor. The dog’s tail and ears were high.

“Could this be it?” she thought. “Could this be him? No way. Not possible.”

Sam arose. She crept into the kitchen to see what the dog was barking about. She saw the back window darken with a silhouette. Sam froze mid-stride. The backdoor knob turned. The door opened.

Whoever this was obviously had a key. Or was this magic? No. Couldn’t be. Magic is for babies.

A boot eased through the open door. A black boot. The boot was followed by a leg. The leg was succeeded by a hulking figure in a crushed velveteen suit trimmed with arctic fur. He wore a stocking cap.

But here’s the thing. Like I said before, this kid is no fool. Sam’s first reaction was not to break out into a Disney song and start spontaneously dancing to off-broadway numbers. Sam’s reaction was “What do they take me for? A baby?”

Sam believed this was just an elaborate prank on her father’s part. She flipped on the kitchen lights and said in a loud voice, “Stop playing, I know it’s you, Dad.”

This is when it happened.

The guy in the suit turned. Sam saw the man’s face. Her eyes enlarged. This guy was definitely not Dad. This man was old, and weathered, with a REAL beard, and a long white ponytail hanging clear down his back. He had tattoos on his knuckles.

The man said, “Hi there, Sam.”

Almost as if on cue, Sam’s father came wandering out of the bedroom, rubbing his eyes, still wearing boxers and T-shirt.

Sam’s Dad remarked, “Santa, you made it.”

The child could not believe this. Her little mind struggled to piece the events together like a jigsaw. It was inconceivable. It was illogical. It couldn’t be real. This guy had to be a phony. And what was with the tattoos? Sam was not going down without a fight.

The girl crossed her arms and threw out a hip. “If you’re Santa, where’s your reindeer?”

Santa stammered. “Well, uh… I’m not using reindeer this year.”

“No reindeer? Ha!” Sam wasn’t buying this at all. “Why didn’t you use our chimney? And how come you’re not fatter? What about your sleigh? Where’s your big bag of toys?”

“I’m uhh… The thing is…”

“Can I touch your beard?” Sam was dead serious.

Santa exchanged a solemn look with Dad. Dad shrugged. Santa was on his own now.

The old man bent forward. Sam gave the whiskers a tug so hard that somewhere in the universe Natalie Wood smiled. Then, the old man removed his cap for her inspection.

The girl eyed his bald head, observed his wrinkled cheeks, and his tattooed knuckles which read, “L-O-V-E.” And wait a minute, did Santa have pierced ears? Yes! He did! In fact, Santa was a very stout man with broad shoulders and a thick neck. Kind of like a guy you’d see at a Thunder Beach rally saddled on a Harley Softail Standard with a gal riding on the back.

The old man winked an eye at her.

This wink must have done the trick because within that average kitchen, skepticism gave way to childhood wonderment. It was the same sense of awe every that child in this world should be allowed to feel at least once.

All the little girl could manage to do was cover her mouth.

And on Christmas Eve night, the sound of a child’s faith cut the blackness of a dim world when she said, “Oh my gosh. I always knew you were real.”

Santa and the child embraced. The hug was real. The pat on the back was real too. So was the warm smile from Jolly Old Saint Nick as he exited the home with a wave. And so was the deep, earthquaking rumble of Santa’s 455 horsepower Peterbilt eighteen wheeler humming down the street.

“Dad, look!” she said.

“Well, how about that,” said Dad.

Yeah. How about that.


  1. Charaleen Wright - December 26, 2020 6:35 am

  2. Nan - December 26, 2020 6:41 am

    Even though we have doubt, there’s usually a bit of room for hope…even when we get old.

  3. Roberta - December 26, 2020 7:18 am

    Way cool. And your reference to Natalie Wood – spot on. Merry Christmas!

  4. Cyn - December 26, 2020 12:33 pm

    What a wonderful story of love. Obviously the Dad loved his daughter and would go to amazing depths to help her hang on to believing in things she could not actually see. A story that reminds each reader of the importance of staying connected to our faith and believing in things we cannot see. Merry Christmas.

  5. Susan Forte - December 26, 2020 12:58 pm


  6. Leia Lona - December 26, 2020 1:11 pm

    Nice one Sean. I hope your Christmas was just as magical.

  7. Donna - December 26, 2020 1:26 pm

    the utter sweetest of a determined love- artfully shared

  8. Jan - December 26, 2020 1:37 pm

    How wonderful it is to Believe!

  9. Joey - December 26, 2020 1:48 pm


  10. Christine - December 26, 2020 2:02 pm

    Yes, the joy of Christmas and baby Jesus lying in a manger. It takes faith to believe❤

  11. Susan Bradshaw - December 26, 2020 2:09 pm

    Magical! ❤️

  12. Becky - December 26, 2020 2:42 pm

    The love of a father has no limits. Faith has no bounds. The message of love represented by Santa will endure as long as people believe.

  13. Heather - December 26, 2020 3:06 pm

    Sean, I love you and your stories so much. Thank you for making me smile and cry at the same time.

  14. Phil (Brown Marlin) - December 26, 2020 3:17 pm

    Great Christmas story, Sean. Yes, Virginia – and Sam – there IS a Santa Claus!

  15. Jenny Young - December 26, 2020 3:22 pm

    Oh the innocence of childhood….we should do everything we can to protect it as long as possible. High praise to the parents who protect childhood for their children. And high praise to people like ‘Santa’ & Sean who help protect it for all the innocent in the world.

    Sean my husband & I are reading your book ‘Will the Circle be unbroken’ out loud together. I’m reading, he’s bawling…I keep having to stop to blow my nose. He’s like a kid begging me to read just one more chapter. It made our Christmas evening so nice to have something to look forward to. We had to cancel our get together with our son & his family because I had a fever. I feel fine today but just being safe & protecting our kids & grandbaby.

  16. Betty F. - December 26, 2020 3:37 pm

    Thanks again. Happy 2nd day of Christmas (a part of the 12 days of Christmas) to you Jamie and the rest of your family .

  17. Anita Ryan - December 26, 2020 3:57 pm

    Love this one! Daddy and Mama always said Santa was someone who loved us. Thanks for the menory!

  18. Mississippi Girl - December 26, 2020 4:10 pm


  19. Kathy - December 26, 2020 4:55 pm

    That is a terrific story. And you wrote it well, simply but vivid.

  20. Linda Moon - December 26, 2020 6:07 pm

    This year HAS been ridiculously hard on children and old kids, too, who left childhood long ago. Childhood and its memories are magic. High IQ kids are the best and sometimes the most challenging of all. Miss McInnis taught lots of us well, and much later in life I had the privilege of teaching a new batch of “us”. Skeptical Sam’s questions were answered well by Santa ex machina!

  21. MAM - December 26, 2020 6:15 pm


  22. Mary - December 26, 2020 6:56 pm

    Yet again, you have outdone yourself💕🎄

  23. lfry1220 - December 27, 2020 1:01 am

    Loved this so much! I can just see the little girl’s face when she first believed. It’s priceless. Thanks, Sean. Hope the New Year brings better times for all of us.

  24. Bill - December 27, 2020 1:14 am

    Oh, to be a child again on Christmas

  25. - December 27, 2020 1:17 am

    Oh, top be a child again on Christmas

  26. Melanie Johnston Levy - December 27, 2020 3:53 pm

    Wow…even at the ripe old age of 66 this story touched a spot in my little girl heart. What a great dad. I hope to meet you one day, Sean, and hug your neck….

  27. Julie - January 20, 2021 4:41 am

    The Magic of Christmas at it’s finest, sponsored by the Brotherhood of Truckers…Roll On,18 Wheelers, Roll On!!


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