Scores of dedicated parents across America work very hard to make sure their children's Christmas is as wonderful as it can possibly be, no matter the circumstances. Fox News' Brian Kilmeade — a cohost of "Fox & Friends" — knows this well.
In a story he tells with zeal in the new book "All American Christmas," Kilmeade shares a memory from his childhood.
It's a story most readers won't soon forget, as it highlights the lengths that caring parents will go to ensure — to the best of their ability — their kids have a Merry Christmas.
(Even if it means difficulty. Or discomfort. Or a freezing cold night in an unheated car … )
Read on for this excerpt from Brian Kilmeade's delightful essay featured — along with many other pieces, photos, recipes, and more — in "All American Christmas."
Aptly enough, this piece is included in a section of the book called the "Joy of Receiving."
Read Brian Kilmeade's Christmas tale from ‘All American Christmas’
Brian Kilmeade in All American Christmas: I had two brothers and I was the middle child. You can imagine what it was like in my house around Christmas with the three of us being pretty close in age. We fed off one another's anticipation for Santa's arrival.
One year, when I was six, my mom was desperate to get us to sleep on Christmas Eve. She got us into bed, and to keep us there she said that if Santa spotted us downstairs before morning, he would take all our gifts away.
We didn't want that to happen, of course, but we were too wound up to sleep.
I shared a room with and spent much of the night talking with my brothers, Jimmy and Steven. We lay there in the dark chatting away, but exhaustion must have finally overtaken us. We fell asleep for a little while.
When we woke up, the temptation was too great. We hopped out of bed and went to the top of the stairs.
We spotted the gifts under the tree. So we were thinking to ourselves, "Santa was here. We're going to go down to see what's going on."
We were down there, and all of a sudden we heard banging noises. We figured it had to be Santa. Remembering what my mother had told us, we darted back upstairs, afraid we might lose our gifts.
Back in bed, I lay there listening for more Santa sounds. I didn't hear any. I checked with my brothers and they didn't either. We went back downstairs.
I felt a bit of a breeze. Wrapping paper rustled. I looked and saw that the front door to the house was open. I closed the door and locked it.
We went back upstairs and went to bed … [and] slept solidly the rest of the morning. In fact, my mom had to wake us up at seven.
"But" — to slightly modify the tagline of the legendary broadcaster Paul Harvey — "that's not the rest of the story."
We found out the truth a couple of years later, when the threat that Santa Claus might take away gifts from too-eager children no longer struck fear in our hearts …
Even though what had become known as "the-door-was-open Christmas" had proceeded smoothly, my parents thought it was time to let us know another Christmas truth.
It was time to reveal that the noise we heard that night wasn't Santa Claus and his eight reindeer. It was my father and his six-cylinder Chevy Nova.
He'd come home from work, and my parents had hidden the gifts either in his car or in the garage. In any case, he was ferrying presents into the house. He'd dropped off a few and gone back outside for more.
That's when I entered the picture and shut the door and locked it.
My dad couldn't get in the house. This was before cell phones, so he couldn't call my mom privately. Instead, not wanting to wake us all up by banging on the door and potentially spoiling the whole Santa Claus story, he eventually drove to a pay phone and called home. None of us, including my mom, heard the phone ring.
Still wanting to keep up the Santa story, and figuring that if a ringing phone wasn't enough to rouse anyone from their sleep, his only option was to wait out the night.
"[My dad] said there was still something puzzling him. He had no idea how the door ended up closed."
He settled into the Nova's interior. There was no heat in the car, so he spent a couple of hours in the freezing cold, shivering. Finally, desperate to get warm, he resorted to the tried-and-true seen-it-in-the-movies approach. He crept around the house and tossed little rocks against the window of his and my mom's bedroom … My mom woke up and let him in.
More important, at least to me as a kid, was that he brought in the rest of the gifts, and we were, until he shared this with us, none the wiser. That's a parent's dedication.
But then, as he finally revealed the truth, he said there was still something puzzling him. He had no idea how the door ended up closed. I couldn't lie. I said it was me.
Thinking back on it, I was absolutely certain that the door being open had nothing to do with Santa. After all, he was a well-known second-story break-in guy.
We had a fireplace. We had a chimney. Santa doesn't do doors; therefore, door open means door closed.
How many times in my life had I heard, "Make sure you close the door behind you?"
Turns out "Santa" was the guy who made the mistake of not following our house rules.