When i was 13 year old, mine mom provided me the greatest gift—a chance to rediscover the magic the Santa Claus.

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By Ainsley Doty December 7, 2020


Photo: Ainsley Doty

Throughout mine childhood, my mom took some an innovative liberties as soon as it concerned Christmas. Sure, various other kids believed in Santa, however we to be the only ones ns knew who additionally believed in Peeker Elves. Follow to mine mom, Santa sent out pointy-eared spies in the weeks leading as much as Christmas to watch our behaviour (this was more than a decade prior to the “Elf top top the Shelf” publication went come print). Whenever mine sisters and also I to be back-talking, squabbling or refusing to eat boiled carrots, my parents would rush to the window and say things like, “Oh my, the Peeker Elves are out early on this year!”

Those creepy bastards constantly showed up at the worst feasible times.

The Peeker Elves were likewise responsible because that executing another mom-made Christmas tradition. This one affiliated wrapping paper. Every year, my sisters and I would pick special file from Walmart or The dollar Store and leave the role in our winter boots out on the ago porch. During the night, the Peeker Elves would collect the wrapping file and take it it earlier with them come the north Pole. Miraculously, ~ above Christmas morning, my current from Santa would certainly be sheathe in the strength Rangers document I’d left the end for the Elves a month earlier.

Unfortunately, the boots tradition is what brought about my ultimate discovery, at 11 years old, that Santa no real. My bedroom was directly above the back porch, and I’d collapse asleep waiting for the Peeker Elves to come. Once I woke approximately the sound that the ago door opening, i assumed it to be someone letting our poodle, Beau Beau, the end to pee. Yet as i peered with the slot in the blinds, I observed my mommy take the document rolls earlier inside.

So, there it was—the undeniable truth. Ns was sad, however not crushed. I’d had actually my suspicions for a while, and also honestly, ns felt a little bit relieved to finally be able to put the whole issue to bed. I was particularly relieved that, by association, Peeker Elves weren’t real either. Those creepy bastards.

The tricky component was keeping my discovery from my two younger sisters, and also I did a good job that it because that the next couple of years. Through 1999, Leighton to be eight and also still deep indoctrinated, but Tory, 10, was acquisition a many of heat from her grade 5 classmates. She barged right into my bedroom one fall day ~ school and demanded to know if Santa was real.

“I nothing know,” ns lied.

“Well, we require a test. I require to understand for sure.”

Turns out, Tory had actually come up through a pretty kind plan. Us knew no to asking Santa because that something outrageous, because my mommy reminded us yearly that Saint Nick might easily provide coal in the place of a pony, a strength Wheels Jeep or a cabinet phone. Based upon these limitations, Tory figured one of us need to ask for a reasonable gift the was also extremely difficult—if not impossible—to come by. Ideally, she wouldn’t be the one come ask, since she currently had her heart set on an Easy-Bake Oven. This was much more of a large sister task, anyway, for this reason Tory planted the seed: “If you could have anything, what would certainly you asking Santa for?”

That’s as soon as it dawned top top me: The perfect impossible gift.

I’d lost my favourite stuffed animal earlier that year. My parents had chauffeured me all approximately southern Alberta for karate tournaments, and also somewhere along the way, in between Calgary (my hometown), Nanton, medication Hat, Lethbridge and Edmonton, Teddy had been left behind. Ns wasn’t also sure when I’d lost him, exactly. I simply knew he was gone. And I felt bad around it. At 13, ns knew i was probably too old to care around some old stuffed bear, yet I really missed the little guy.

Admittedly, ns hadn’t always taken the best care of Teddy. Year earlier, I’d passed the end on a bottom bunk in ~ my Grampy’s farm, and also Teddy had actually fallen face-down ~ above a analysis lamp I’d inserted on the floor beside the bed. The warmth from the pear burned fifty percent his challenge off. Grampy placed a large square Band-Aid over the wound while i bawled ~ above the couch, and he comforted me through saying that Teddy to be a hero due to the fact that he hadn’t burned the farmhouse down.

I to be scared the stitches would hurt Teddy, for this reason it took me a couple of months to job-related up the courage to change the bandage with a blue fabric patch. I used a ballpoint pen to attract on a new eyeball, and also Teddy was as great as new. If he to be mad about what had happened, he never said anything around it. He simply kept on being my finest friend.

And just how did i repay his unconditional love? I lost him.

So, fuelled mostly by guilt, I decided to go together with Tory’s plan. In late November, i went with my mom and sisters to Southcentre shopping mall in Calgary. Us waited in line to watch Santa, who remained in his 80s and had a genuine white beard down to his chest. When it to be my rotate to talk, ns felt awkward and bashful. I’d rehearsed what i was going to say, but I feeling oddly emotional together I speak the indigenous aloud.

“All I want for Christmas is to discover my teddy bear.”

I to be so wrapped up in the exchange that i forgot to keep an eye on mine mom. However I wouldn’t have actually seen much; she was standing turn off to the side, practising her poker face. As soon as I to be a few years older, she called me the whole story. As soon as she heard my quick exchange with Santa, she stomach had dropped into her pelvis. She hadn’t even realized that Teddy was missing, and also there was less than a month left until Christmas.

When we returned home from the mall, ns went around my typical teenaged life. Mine mom, ~ above the other hand, acquired right to work. She wracked her brain trying to remember whereby we’d been in recent months. She scoured the Yellow Pages, dubbed up every hotel and motel we’d visited, and demanded to speak come a manager. Someone must have actually seen this bear. You wouldn’t forget a challenge like that.

But the job turned into weeks, and also by the moment December 23rd rolled around, she quiet hadn’t been able to find Teddy.

It dawned ~ above her the there was one ar left she hadn’t thought to call. Mine dad’s office placed on a yearly staff party in Kananaskis, Alta., and also even despite it to be an adults-only event, our whole family had actually spent the night in the town’s just hotel. (I remember that well, due to the fact that while our parents stopper wine in the conference hall, mine sisters and also I persuaded the boss’s sons to let united state dress them up in drag.) It was a lengthy shot, yet my mom dubbed up the Delta Lodge and spoke come the mrs at the front desk. The mrs asked around and also checked the lost and also found, however no luck.

Teddy to be gone.

The next night to be Christmas Eve, and also my mom later on told me the she seriously thought about taking me next to comment on what wasn’t going to take place the following morning. But the residence phone rang before she could work increase the nerve. It was the mrs from the Delta Lodge. She’d discovered Teddy in the wash room closet! Someone had tucked him far on a shelf for safekeeping.

My mommy was thrilled, yet she easily realized the they’d run out of time. Kananaskis to be over 100 kilometre away, it to be snowing heavily, and there to be no method to gain Teddy residence in time because that Christmas. She thanked the woman and asked she to send the be affected by each other by letter as quickly as she could.

“Here’s the thing,” said the woman. “I live in Calgary, and I’m driving home tonight. Provide me her address. I’ll come drop the off.” There to be no much longer a stranger top top the other finish of the line; she’d transformed into a Peeker Elf, working in cahoots with my mom to pull off a Christmas miracle.

Standing there in the kitchen, mine mom held the recipient to she heart and also cried.

The following morning, ns sat in the middle of the life room floor wearing brand-new flannel pyjamas. File and box were spread out out across the carpet. My sister buzzed about me. The Christmas tree to be lit up v rainbow-coloured lamp in the corner. There was one existing left, and also my mom handed it to me, looking away so i wouldn’t watch the tears in her eyes. I unwrapped it, chatting far mindlessly, right noticing the unique wrapping paper I’d selected months before. I opened up the box, looked down and also saw Teddy staring up at me.

I was speechless. Then it was my revolve to cry.

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Tory ran in circles around me. “You see?!” she squealed. “I told friend he to be real!”

In the moment, I came to two an extremely important but contradictory understandings about the world. Firstly, that the Santa Claus at Southcentre Mall was the actual deal. And, more importantly, that my mom might make impossible, wonderful, magical things happen—all through a tiny help from her Peeker Elves.