When I was eight years old, I was totally spoiled. My parents catered to my every wish. I
had toys and games by the dozens and never wanted for anything. When Christmas rolled
around, I was indulged even more. Candy, fruit, nuts, more toys and new clothes were always
under the tree waiting for me on Christmas morning. It made my self-centered little heart happy
to see dozens of gifts with my name on them.
Because I was certain nothing would be denied me, about a month before Christmas, I
told my dad I wanted Santa to bring me a black pony with a red saddle. Dad was busy reading
the newspaper at the time, and his answer was, "We'll see." I was sure that meant I would get my
As Christmas grew near, I was giddy with excitement. I would be a genuine cowboy and
ride the range, chasing cattle and rustlers! My imagination knew no bounds. I was especially
good too. I didn't want Santa to forego my gift because I had been a bad boy. I was kind to my
little sister, Neva, even though she eyed me with suspicion when I went near her. She was wary
from the many pranks I had pulled through the year. Everyone commented on my good
Finally, Christmas arrived, and I awoke at dawn. I hurriedly dressed and then went down
the stairs quietly. I could see the sparkling Christmas tree in the gathering light. I expected to see
my black pony with the red saddle standing patiently by the tree, waiting to take me for a ride.
Instead, I saw Clarence, the cat, entangled in Christmas decorations. He looked at me as if to say,
get me out of this contraption. I swiftly unraveled him, and he streaked off to parts unknown.
My pony was nowhere to be found. I decided he must be outside. After all, ponies do
make messes sometimes. and my mother insisted on a clean house. I eased open the front door,
and a blast of snow hit me in the face! My poor pony would freeze out there! I made my way
toward the barn, but did not see a pony. My old hound dog, Rufus, ambled from the barn and
wagged his tail. He thought it was breakfast time.
A horrible mistake must have been made. Perhaps Santa had delivered my gift to the
wrong house. Maybe Dad could solve the puzzle. I hurried into the house and opened the door to
my parents' bedroom. Dad was snoring away. I didn't care. I touched hs face with a cold hand,
and he jerked awake.
"Where's my black pony with the red saddle?" I asked. Dad looked at me groggily for a
"I'm sorry, son, but Santa could not find that this year. Maybe next year when you are a
little older." He rolled over and went back to sleep. I left the room, unbelieving. How could this
be? I had always gotten everything I wanted. I felt the thunderous beginning of a temper tantrum.
How dare Santa treat me that way! I would make everyone pay. Running away seemed to
be the best option, but when I went outside, the cold wind changed my mind.
I had to settle for crawling beneath the house where I went into a major sulk. Around nine
o'clock that morning my parents noticed I was not there. They began searching the house. No
Todd. They searched the barn. No Todd there either. They became frantic. My grandmother, who
helped them search, was sure I had gone into the Piney Woods, never to be seen again.
No Christmas lunch was cooked because of me. Finally, around one o'clock, my dad
remembered my fondness for crawling beneath the house. On his knees, he peered into the hole
in the side of the house. I must have made a sound. I had been found.
"You need to come out of there, son," he cajoled. "Everyone is worried and you will get
sick if you stay in this cold." That sounded reasonable, and besides that, I was hungry. My face,
smeared with dirt, snot and tears, I crept from my hiding place.
My mother was overjoyed, but my grandmother turned me over her knee and gave me a
sound spanking. She did not believe in spoiling children. We had our old fashioned Christmas
that day, but never again did I believe in Santa. I learned the hard way that we do not always get
what we want in life, and often we are better off. We should be thankful for the things we
Published on December 7th, 2022
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