Henry, pushing his hot dogs aside: I’m not very hungry.

Me: Are you ok? Do you feel bad?

Henry, shyly: I’m um, I’m just not hungry.

Me: Are you nervous?

Henry: Maybe a little.


The night before, Henry asked very simply, “What will you do if I get coal for Christmas?”

After questioning him about what he said, he very sheepishly explained that he’s afraid that he’ll be punished if he only gets coal for Christmas from Santa.

He’s afraid he’s not been good enough for Santa to visit with toys.


We make an appointment to see the Santa at Phipps Plaza in Buckhead in September. People go crazy to get an appointment with him because he’s (not to be completely snotty) the best. He’s the Bentley of Santas.

We scurry out of the house after work to make it down to the mall for a 7:45 appointment. It’s a mad dash, this year complete with forgetting Watkins, our trusty elf. Luckily we had time to turn around and grab him so he could see his boss for a few minutes.

Our evening started with rushing and anxiety and lots of shuffling…


There were finishing touches put on the list. It’s hard to narrow down all your “wants” to five things that Santa’s allowed to bring you when you’re eight. The line got shorter. We were last. The last ones of the night…

Twinkles in eyes got brighter and under my hand, his heartbeat got faster.

It was his turn.

Meet Santa. Sit. Smile for the camera.

Then there was whispering, smiling, talking to Watkins. There were a few winks from Santa in our direction.

And then the awkward goodbyes.

That included the shot that reminded me that he believes.

He truly believes.

And that’s what makes Christmas magical, friends.