Shared Stories: For Display Only

Yolanda Adele’s short story packs a punch.  She shares a hard lesson learned about items on display at Christmas time.  Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center.  Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program.  Curated by Carol Kearns.

By Yolanda Adele

I was six years old the Christmas that my mother promised to take me to see Santa at the big store downtown. Mama warned me that I would first have to be patient while we stopped at the appliance department. 

As soon as we got off the streetcar I felt and smelled the fresh mist in the air mingled with the scent of cinnamon churros, my favorite fried sweet bread sticks, coming from a vender’s cart. I didn’t dare ask Mama to buy one for me. I was going to try to be on my best behavior for Mama, and that meant being seen, but not heard. 

The multi-color Christmas lights from the decorated street lamps reflected in the small puddles of rainwater in front of the store. It looked utterly magical to me.

We walked in and passed the main lobby where the sound of Jingle Bells played loudly and where Santa was sitting waiting for me! I was filled with the kind of excitement that must come when you are in the first car of a roller-coaster about to plunge at bullet speed towards the ground. 

We were at the mundane alliance department for what seemed eons. I grew impatient. I made several trips to the drinking fountain. Eventually, I had to go “potty.” 

Mama was so enveloped by the prospect of owning a new wringer washing machine that she turned a deaf ear to my pleas to “go.” I was afraid to have an “accident” and have my Mama take me home without seeing Santa.

Just when I thought I found a solution, an irate salesman approached my mother and asked in a loud voice, “Is that your child on the floor model commode?” He didn’t give Mama a chance to answer. 

“If so,” he continued, “remove her at once and explain to her that that latrine is for display, ONLY! We have sanitation laws you know!” 

With that said, he handed my red-faced mother a box of tissues. She cleaned me and the commode the best she could. In a hurry! We fled out of the store and across the street to the Piggy-Wiggly Café to use their bathroom and get cleaned up. 

Mama let it be known to anyone within shouting distance that I was not going to see Santa anytime soon. On that day I learned what “Display Only” is NOT for.

I finally got to see Santa in person - on my eighth Christmas.