Most Christmas Eve parties are held at my family’s house. This particular year — maybe 1985 or 1986 — my mom’s extended family got together and rented a cabin in Big Bear. I don’t remember much about the celebration in the mountains except that my tío Pancho snuck away to put on a Santa Claus suit. Every year Papá Chepe or another willing adult male would don the suit and pretend to be Santa. He’d carry a sack full of toys for the all the kids. Earlier during the party, parents would stuff the sack with wrapped presents. Parents were only allowed to bring one present — preferably a toy — per child so that everything was even between families.
Santa brought me a Rainbow Brite doll that year. I only know this because there’s a photo in an album or box somewhere of me in brown sweatpants and a pink sweatshirt holding a Rainbow Brite doll.
The next day we cleaned up at the cabin and everyone came home. By the time we got back to Hacienda Heights, it was already dark.
Dad opened the door followed by mom, and four sleepy kids.
Danny and I perked up as soon as we saw two bicycles positioned beside our fireplace.
I was amazed. How did my pink bicycle with a white basket and training wheels get in the house? Did Santa bring it?
I didn’t really care. I followed Danny’s lead and took my bike for a night ride around the block.
Hope you all had a great Christmas with your family. I know I did.