Aunt Klara and Santa Claus
At Christmas, most people always do exactly the same as the year before. And like the year before. And so it goes on and on. Mama says that’s tradition. And we try every year, but it never really works. Daddy says it’s a tradition for us that every year something unforeseen happens. And this year, the unforeseen was Aunt Klara.
It started with Grandma slipping on the icy staircase outside her house the day before Christmas Eve. She fell down the steps and broke her leg. Of course, she had to go to the hospital and that’s why Mama brought aunt Klara to us. First Aunt Klara was very sad and confused because of Granny’s accident. But then she calmed down and after that she was really happy. Aunt Klara is very happy with us. That’s because daddy is always so much fun when he’s free. And because mom is her big sister. And because she can then play with my things. All this Tante Klara finds good and Christmas, of course, she also finds good.
“Christmas is when Santa Claus comes,” said Aunt Klara and sat down next to me on the carpet. “Do you paint a picture for Santa?”
I had laid out my painting things in front of me and actually I painted a picture for grandma, but I could not say that Aunt Klara. My aunt can not keep secrets secret. Certainly she would have told Grandma the next phone call from my picture. That’s why I only nodded mysteriously. But I know long ago that there is no Santa Claus. After all, I am already nine years old.
“Marie, Klara!” Mama called from the kitchen. “Get dressed, we’re going to the Christmas market!”
Since Aunt Klara and I have pretty rushed, because we both like the Christmas market very much!
I always get so pre-Christmas-tingling in the stomach, when I see the stalls with the wooden toys and the Christmas tree decorations and when it smells everywhere of roasted almonds and roasted chestnuts. I also like it when you freeze a tiny bit, because then you can drink hot children’s punch and everything is even more tingling and pre-Christmas. Aunt Klara prefers to love the carols that play the old wooden carousel carousel as it turns. Then she always sings, even if she does not know the text quite so well.
Because today was the day before Christmas Eve, even on the Christmas market was a Santa Claus. He sat in one of the stalls on a golden chair with red pillows and in front of it stood a long line of children. One child after another was allowed to go forward and talk to Santa Claus.
“I want to go to Santa Claus, too!” Cried Aunt Klara.
Mom looked a bit unhappy. She does not like it when we notice. But when you’re traveling with Aunt Klara, you always notice a bit. And dad did not mind that either.
“Why not!” He said. “I’ll stand with Clara at Santa’s and you can drink a punch while doing so.”
Aunt Klara clapped her hands with delight and Mama sighed softly. “Alright, we’ll be right next door.”
But just when Mama wanted to order our punch, Papa and Aunt Klara were back in front of us.
“They did not let us through,” Dad said and Aunt Klara sobbed loudly.
Two women dressed as angels stood in front of the Santa Claus booth. They picked the children up from their parents and lined them up in front of Santa Claus. Only Aunt Klara did not want to take her.
“Why not?”, Mom wanted to know and gave Aunt Klara a handkerchief.
“Because Klara is no longer a child,” Dad said. You could see right that he was angry. “I tried to talk to them, but they just messed us up!”
Aunt Klara wept even more and I found that the angel women were not like angels if they did not let Aunt Klara go to Santa just because she was an adult.
Grandma had explained that to me long ago: Aunt Klara had been given too little oxygen at birth and this had broken something in her brain. That’s why my aunt was a bit different from most people. She could not read and not count. She could not live alone, even though she was already thirty-five. But you could play great with her and dress up and make nonsense. Mama says there is still a child in Aunt Klara. But the angel women did not realize that and therefore Aunt Klara was sad now. I’ve already noticed how I got really angry, something occurred to me, with which I could perhaps comfort Aunt Klara.
I plucked her by the sleeve, until she finally bent down to me and then I whispered in her ear: “That’s not the right Santa Claus, the right Santa Claus is coming tomorrow!”
Aunt Klara got big eyes.
“The right Santa Claus,” I whispered further, “has no time for the Christmas market today, he has to pack up the presents and load his sledges so that everything is ready for tomorrow.”
Aunt Klara nodded slowly. That’s what she understood. Her face was still wet with tears, but she started to glow.
Dad winked at me. “Since you have found right Christmas magic words!” He said.
I thought so too. Because Aunt Klara began to sing softly: “Tomorrow is Santa Claus coming …”
“How about,” Mama asked, “if we all drink a nice hot punch together?”
We did that too and it became really comfortable again.
The next morning, I woke up terribly early. It was so festive in my mind that I could barely stand it. The Christmas tingling is much stronger than the pre-Christmas tingling. And even if you do not believe in Santa Claus, Christmas Eve is terribly exciting, I think!
It did not matter that I could not sleep anymore, because Aunt Klara was already awake. She sat in her pajamas on her bed and looked at my old picture books. So I sat down to her and read to her the book about the birth of Jesus in the stable. This is part of Christmas. Because Grandma used to read it to me on Christmas Eve. And because there would have been no Christmas at all without the baby Jesus. When we read the book for the third time, mom and dad finally got up and we ate breakfast in the kitchen.
After that, Aunt Klara wanted to play Christmas with me. That is, she wanted us to pretend that she was Santa Claus and me the children Santa Claus brings gifts for. But I did not have time. I had an appointment with my best friend Katrin.