“I’m going to be sad,” LoLo told his dad as their horse loped along a dusty red path.
“You know our home won’t be the same without you.” Dad said, “But you will learn so much at school. It is time for you to go.”
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LoLo lived with his mother and father and little sister and brother in a hogan made of mud and grass, a long day’s ride from town.
Because his home was so far away, LoLo needed to live at the school.
Every night after he crawled into bed, he thought about his family far away and a tear came into his eye.
Every day he practiced writing letters and numbers. He listened as his teacher told stories.
When the weather got cold and the ground turned white, LoLo found a book with a picture of a smiley fat man dressed in red with a funny hat and a long white beard. He had never seen anybody who looked like that.
“Who is that?” LoLo asked his teacher.
“Santa Claus,” she said. “Sometimes he’s called Old St. Nick. In the middle of the night, he flies through the air in a sled and brings gifts to children on Christmas morning. ”
“He does not come to our house,” LoLo said.
“Maybe that is because you don’t have a chimney for him to slide down into your home,” his teacher said.
LoLo loved storytime and soon he learned to read stories for himself. Sometimes he even forgot about missing his family. But he never forgot about funny-looking Santa Claus. He must be the most wonderful man in the world, he thought. I wonder if he will ever come to our hogan.
The night before LoLo’s dad came to take him home for Christmas break, LoLo dreamed he was flying through the sky guiding a sleigh full of packages, pulled by eight reindeer. LoLo had a long white beard that tickled and wore a fuzzy red suit, a pointy red hat, and shiny black boots. He whooshed into his hogan and put a gift beside each of his family members as they slept snuggled into their buffalo robes.
It felt so good to hold tight to his dad as they rode toward home along the red path, now slippery in places where the snow had frozen hard.
He could see his mother, brother and sister waving at him from a long way away. Even before they had finished kissing and hugging, LoLo began to tell them about how he was learning to read and write, add and subtract. He told them about story time and about his new friends, but he didn’t tell them about Santa Claus.
LoLo knew that in his native language his name means “one who believes.” LoLo believed in Santa Claus. And he thought there was a tiny chance that because he believed, maybe Santa would come to his hogan this year. But he wasn’t sure. After all there was no chimney for Santa to slide down.
He hatched a back-up plan. He decided to become Santa, just as he had done in his dream. Every night, in the few days before Christmas, he waited until his family was asleep. Then he took out scissors, glue, scraps of cloth, yarn and paper and made a doll for his sister, a kite for his brother, a calendar with a picture for each month of the year for his dad, and an eye of God in many colors for his mother.
He wrapped the gifts in brown paper and tied them with string. The night before Christmas he lay awake for a long time, too excited to close his eyes.
In the middle of the night, when a streak of light from the Christmas star shone into the hogan, LoLo crept from his bed, pulled out the gifts from their hiding place in his backpack, and placed one beside each sleeping member of his family.
Then he slipped back under his buffalo robe and imagined what it would be like when his family woke up. He began to understand the good feeling Santa Claus must have every year when his long night’s work is over. He fell into a deep sleep with a smile on his face and a warm feeling in his heart.
He woke up to loud happy voices. Beside each of their buffalo robes, his family found not one but two gifts. One was wrapped in brown paper and tied with string. The other one glowed red in the early morning light, and was tied with a shiny silver ribbon.
“A doll for me to love,” his sister said. “I never had one before,”
“This will fly like a bird,” said his brother, zooming his kite around the room.
“Now I will always know what day it is.” said his father.
“How beautiful,” said his mother, touching the colorful strands of yarn.
Before his family got around to opening their shiny red packages, LoLo spied a big box wrapped in gold paper beside his buffalo robe.
A tear of joy trickled slowly down his cheek.
It is good to believe and it is good to give, he thought to himself.
“Merry Christmas!” he said to his family.