Thursday, December 16, 2010

Santa's Sleigh Bells

This painting hangs in my bedroom and always brings back memories when I see it. My mom painted it when she was in her 70s and gave it to me. This painting is her memory of  the farm house and land that belonged to my grandparents in rural Iowa.  My parents and I lived in a small mobile home on the same farm.  I loved the farm animals, fishing in the small creek down the dirt road, picking wild strawberries, and all the other adventures that growing up on a farm can bring.

My favorite Christmas memory happened on this farm.  Our family always gathered at my grandparent's house for Christmas Eve when I was growing up in the early 1950s. Christmas was exciting, with my grandma cooking special food and lots of pies and decorating her house. It was one of the times when my aunts and uncles all came, bringing all my cousins. Everyone would stay over and we'd have fun on Christmas day going sledding.

One year an older cousin put on Grandpa's big boots and secretly went outside to make "Santa tracks" in the snow.  He walked in those big boots around my grandparent's house and out to the driveway. After he came back in, we gathered all the little cousins and took them outside to show them the Santa foot prints - to prove that Santa knew where Grandpa and Grandma's house was and he would surely come back that night to leave presents.

They were amazed. They stood there in their bulky snowsuits and snow boots staring at the big footprints. Then we told them to  look up in the sky to see if we could see Santa with his sleigh and reindeer.

I remember it was one of those very cold, still winter nights in Iowa.  As we all stood in the deep snow  looking up at the stars in the sky, suddenly we heard sleigh bells from far away!  The little cousins started screaming "I hear Santa! I hear him!!" while the rest of us looked at each other and wondered who had planned that little trick. The little ones were so thrilled and delighted!  We quickly agreed "Yes, those are Santa's sleigh bells!!"

None of us had planned anything. Later we talked about it and all we could ever figure out was that somewhere down the road or across the fields, another farm family decided to celebrate their Christmas eve by going outside and ringing their strap of sleigh bells. Their timing was perfect for our family! The only other explanation? Maybe it really was Santa...

What's your favorite Christmas memory?  I hope it makes you smile...

Linda Harbin


  1. What a grand experience, and a great story. I can only imagine what it must have been like to hear those sleigh bells ... magical.

  2. A lovely story. That moment when the sleigh bells first rang must have been incredible.
    ~ Linda (Raedawn)

  3. Love that story Linda! I guess the fondest memory was my first 2 wheeler bike. I wanted one so badly, I was probably about 6 or 7, in first grade. I kept getting up in the middle of the night to see if Santa had been here. I must have slept, woke, slept, woke 100 times that night and each time I woke I'd tip toe to the living room. Finally, the last trip I peeked around the corner and the silhouette of that bike finally focused as my sleepy eyes adjusted.....on the 100th the dark. It was between the tree and the window, and the street light outside caused this perfect outline of the bike! I just remember the pure excitement that year. There were other "good" Christmases, but that was the best!

  4. Linda,
    I love this story of yours so very much. The longer version was a treat to read as well.

    The painting your mom did is absolutely beautiful. It looks like folk art you would see hanging in a museum!

    May you have a very Merry Christmas with your loved ones this year!