The noise of the crowded mall faded away as Terri circled the large tree. She studied the ornaments carefully, nodding, tapping her pursed lips with her finger tips. An even dozen, I think. Finally, after two full circuits around the tree, Terri began plucking white cardboard angels off the tree like a farmer picking apples. Once she had her harvest she retreated to the food court for lunch. With her burger and fries spread out before her, she dug a note book from her bag and began to make her shopping list.
Andy, age 12, Skate board.
Cassie, age 3, winter coat. Awww, a coat for Christmas, bet Santa brings you a baby doll too.
JoAnne, age 10, Skates. Terri made a note to add helmets and knee pads to both Andy and JoAnne’s package.
Hannah, age 3, Elmo doll.
Derrick, age 5, Foot ball. How about a ball and bat too, buddy?
Ronnie, age 14, Batman video game.
Crystal, age 12, this request consisted of a long list of books. Terri smiled, a girl after my own heart. I’ll make sure Santa hooks you up.
Mollie, age 7, a new sweater for my mama. Terri’s eyes swam with tears. Will do, baby, along with a matching one for you and a stuffed animal.
Hank. She sipped her soda and smiled at the sturdy picture the name alone drew in her mind. Hank, age 8, a puppy. Ouch. “Oh, Hank,” she whispered. “A dog?” With her chin propped on her fist she pondered Hank’s request. Santa would need to be extra careful with this one. Terri wrote Hank’s name at the top of her list and circled it for special attention. Maybe one of those robotic things from Radio Shack.
Andrew, age 8, Legos.
Elizabeth, age 5, horsey. Terri rubbed her face. Another animal? At least this wish was easier to work with than the dog. She’d seen some stuffed rocking horses earlier in the month. Complete with bridle and galloping sounds when you rocked. Too cute!
Terri smiled when she turned over the final angel. Twins, a baker’s dozen. Shelly and Kelly, age 4, tricycles. Terri scribbled a note to give Callie a call. Benton better break out his tool belt. She was a pretty good Santa, but not much of a tool girl.
She looked at her list and did some mental math. A winter coat for all thirteen, stocking caps and gloves for all, along with a toy, requested or not. Thirteen stockings stuffed with candy and fruit. Terri would need Benton for more than tools this year, she’d need his truck to fill in as Santa’s sleigh.
The chair legs screeched on the concrete floor as Terri scooted back from the table. She studied the stores across the food court. Better get busy. Santa had a long list to fill.