So, Santa did find me and my nine-month-old sister.
My fifth Christmas was a time of change for our family.
I was becoming American.
Thank you, Nonni.
Christmases marked our changes.
The next Christmas I had a 15-day-old brother.
Well, it was the 50s.
That was a huge Christmas for our family. Santa was in a very generous mood that year.
Pop was in his glory. He finally had a son, an heir. Pop's dynasty could begin. He could go toe to toe with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. He was one up on Philip. We had his family's name. Visions of grandsons were dancing in Pop's head.
And there'd be hundreds of descendants to come.
He'd be another Abraham.
In the 50s all things were possible.
Another thing that was possible was my learning how to read and write. The next year I wrote a letter to Santa.
I wanted a bicycle.
I asked my parents if they thought Santa would give me a bike. Pop agreed I'd been a good girl, helping Ma with the two babies. Ma said I was becoming really good at changing diapers and giving bottles. Yes, they thought Santa would grant me my wish.
My siblings were also growing and going after what they wanted. While George was barely aware of his first Christmas, that year he was fascinated by the Christmas tree. He kept trying to grab the ornaments. Every chance he got, he'd climb onto the sofa and reach out to the branches.
We weren't worried. He just sat on the couch and reached.
Then George figured out that he'd get closer to the tree if he got on the armrest and then grabbed for a shiny ball or two.
He'd have done it, if he hadn't lost his balance and landed on the three Kings' camel.
That camel wasn't exactly built to carry a toddler.
No problem. There were more camels in the 5 & 10.
The big day came.
I got my bike.
It was blue.
I called it Blue Bird.
I was so glad I had learned how to write and read.
I read anything and everything I could.
Including the labels on Blue Bird.
The seat had been made in one country.
The tires in another.
The frame in yet a third.
Suddenly, I had an awful thought.
My Blue Bird was made by people in different countries.
Not one label said the North Pole.
Nothing was made in the North Pole.
Nothing was made by Santa's elves.
My parents admitted that, yes, my bike hadn't been made by Santa's elves. They had bought it. Blue was my favorite color. Didn't I like it?
They smiled and said I was a big girl. I was too big to believe in Santa.
But, I was supposed to help the babies believe in Santa for as long as possible.
I was seven.
Not a baby anymore.
I felt like I was George reaching for the balls, losing my balance and falling on the camel.