When I was very young, the days before Christmas were a magical time, filled with eager anticipation. I eyed the presents under the tree, fingered the empty stocking hanging by the fireplace (hoping for something overlooked from last year; even a hard stale chocolate kiss would have been welcome . . . ) and generally drove everyone crazy asking how many more days till Santa would come.
It was the things that Santa would bring and leave in our stockings or on the hearth in all their unwrapped glory that I had on my mind . . . and it was hard for a six year-old to wait.
So, on this particular day, less than a week before Christmas, I was at my grandparents' house. As I remember it, only my grandmother and I were there.
I had occupied some time skipping from room to room of the house, singing (off key, no doubt) "Christmas is coming, Christmas is coming," as I made a circle from kitchen to breakfast room to library to front hall to living room to dining room and back to the kitchen.
Ba was making a pound cake and after my fifth or sixth circuit, she asked if I wouldn't like to come help her. Knowing there would be a bowl to lick, I stopped skipping and let her tie an apron around me.
As I stood on the step stool wielding an awkwardly long wooden spoon and trying to stir the huge bowl of batter, I said to Ba, "I wish I had some little cooking things just my size."
Just then there was a loud sound from the other end of the house -- maybe a door slamming.
"Run see what that was," Ba said, taking over the stirring. "It sounded like something in the living room."
Off I went on the familiar route -- breakfast room, library, hall, and into the dim living room where the beautiful Christmas tree shimmered with glass balls and carefully placed foil icicles.
All was quiet.
But there, on the hearth beneath my still-empty stocking, was a little set of child-sized baking pans!
I grabbed them up and ran shrieking back to the kitchen to show my grandmother the miracle.
"Santa must have heard you wishing and decided to come early," was all she said.
And she helped me to butter one little pan and line it with waxed paper so that I could fill it with batter for my own child-sized pound cake.
As we slid it into the oven, I was sure that I could hear the distant sound of bells jingling and a faint "Ho, ho, ho!"