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A Santa Tale from 1957–for Older Believers

December 25, 2019



A Santa Tale from 1957–for Older Believers:


Connecting the Christmas Dots


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



The massive, golden oak rolltop desk was covered with stacks of letters and bright red ringbinders.  Seated comfortably at the highly polished desk was the bearded man that we all know as “Santa Claus.”  For a long minute, his sleepy eyes drifted from his 1957 ringbinder #1225 to the drifts of pristine snow outside the Bay window.  Then, suddenly, Santa refocused his attention when he felt a brush of air over his desk and sensed a flutter of wings atop his desk.


“Good morning!  Santa dear, you must get more sleep tonight:  you have a mighty big three weeks ahead of you.”


“G.G., is that you?”


“Gloria Gayle, GGA, reporting for duty,” she snapped.


“What does my GGA–Gifted Guardian Angel–have in the way of advice for me this Christmas season?  Have you come to tell me about a special case among all of these requests from this year of 1957?”


As she smoothed out some of her feathers, G.G. casually remarked, “I trust that you, dear Santa, will connect the dots.”


Leaning back in his chair and looking up at his guardian angel on the shelf above his desk, Santa pondered Gloria Gayle’s words for a couple of minutes.  Then, he grabbed his cranberry red phone and called Louis, one of the tip-top elves.  With a commanding voice, Santa requested the latest update about the number of connect-the-dots activity books in the workshop’s wondrous warehouse.  After Louis gave his boss the exact tally from his ledger, the elf zipped over to the warehouse to double check for Santa.  Meanwhile, G.G. smiled broadly and straightened her halo.  As Santa tapped on his desk like a drum, the gifted guardian angel’s light laughter crescendoed into a bowl-full-of-jelly belly laugh.  When she noticed a frown on Santa’s face, G.G. tried her best to hide her laughter under a few feathers.  “Yoo-hoo, Santa, I am absolutely not speaking of that type of connecting the dots.  That would be much too easy and would certainly not require the service of a GGA.”


“All right, Gloria Gayle, just come right out and tell me what you mean … please.”


“By this decade, you know me quite well.  This case is a most special one:  I think you will fully and immediately recognize the case when said case sits upon your lap.  Just be alert!  Now, I must fly off to choir practice.  Someone is ill, and a first soprano is urgently needed this morning.”


“G.G., wait just a minute!  What about this afternoon?  Will you join me this afternoon?”


“Sorry, Santa, you are on your own.  This afternoon, upon the insistence of a boyfriend, a young ballerina will be skating at Rockefeller Center.  Her JGA has asked for my assistance because the ballerina will stumble during her third turn around the rink.  The junior guardian angel will right the young ballerina then; but a few yards ahead, I will be needed to cushion the ballerina’s fall onto the ice so that she will not severely break her ankle.  Double duty will be very important because the young lady will leave the boyfriend, but will go on in her career to dance the Sugarplum Fairy role in The Nutcracker.  I love to help the JGAs and am honored to save this ballerina’s path to stardom.”


Of course, Santa said that he understood and appreciated the tip.  With a wink and a fan of her feathers, G.G. assured that she would, as usual, return for Santa’s bedtime prayers.


After greeting and listening to many, many children that morning and early afternoon, Santa was still smiling and laughing a few more of his famous “Ho, ho, ho” trademark laughs when he spotted a most unusual sight in the line of children and parents.  Nearing the front of the line was a little boy with a small white cane, tipped with red.  As soon as Santa Claus bid farewell and “Merry Christmas” to the two little sisters who had just sat upon his knees and waved at the camera and before the next family came forward, Santa promptly, but discretely told Elf Keller to greet the family of the little boy with the white cane and to gather all necessary information.  Santa knew that he could be brief and trust that Keller would know what to do.


A few minutes later, soon before the little boy’s turn to meet Santa, Keller rapidly whispered to Santa that the little boy’s name is Davey Dierdorf, he is seven years old, and  his parents are Patsy and Wesley Dierdorf from Carmel, Indiana.


As Davey approached Santa, the little boy outstretched his hand to shake hands with Santa Claus.  With a most jolly voice, Santa greeted Davey and his parents and hoisted the young fellow onto his knee.  After a few minutes of chatter and before the snapshot, Santa asked the big question.  Davey somewhat shyly replied, “Santa, I want only one gift for Christmas–a brailler, a Perkins brailler.”


“Santa queried, “What will you do with this Perkins brailler, Davey?”


The seven-year-old explained that he had learned to read braille in first grade and had also learned to write braille with a slate and stylus, but that in second grade, his teacher introduced his class to a machine–something like a typewriter, but with only nine keys to make the dots and spaces.  Finally, Davey said in a flourish:  “I love to read braille, and I really like to write my own stories.  With the brailler, I can write my stories so much more easily and quickly.  Please, Santa, can you please bring me a brailler for Christmas?”


Santa looked up at Mr. and Mrs. Dierdorf; both were sadly shaking their heads to indicate the negative.  Nevertheless, Santa was connecting the dots, as G.G. had advised him.  “A Perkins brailler–I will arrange for my craftiest elf to get to work immediately.”


Exchanging wishes for a “Merry Christmas,” Davey and Santa parted company.  While Davey and his mother walked around the Christmas tree and down a couple of stairs, Mr. Dierdorf managed to speak privately to Santa:  “Santa, I would love to give my son a brailler for Christmas; but that machine costs one week’s salary.  I just cannot afford to give him one this Christmas.  You should not have given him the idea that you will bring him one for Christmas.”  Before Santa had a chance to reply, Wesley Dierdorf rushed off the stage.  Santa shook his head and wondered if G.G. knew what she was doing.  Did he know what he was doing with this connecting of the dots?


That night, when Santa was relaxing in his rocking chair, Mrs. Claus brought him a mug of hot chocolate with a peppermint stick, a cinnamon stick, and one large marshmallow.  She thought he needed a triple treat that evening.  A minute later, she returned with a manila envelope that one of the elves had hurriedly delivered.  Inside the large envelope was all of the information from Watertown, Massachusetts–from Howe Press and the Perkins School for the Blind.  Santa read carefully.


When Mrs. Claus sat on the rocker beside Santa, she inquired about the special case which was garnering so much of Santa’s time and attention.


“Mrs. Claus, in this year of 1957, do you know that the average income of a family in the United States is $5000?  So many parents want to give their children more gifts, but cannot afford all the wishes.  You, the elves, and I work in so many ways throughout the world.  However, can we ever do enough?  A little boy in Indiana has asked me for a Perkins brailler; his parents cannot afford the gift, so I must make this happen for the little fellow on Christmas Eve.”


“Santa, you go to bed early; give me the order form from Watertown, Massachusetts.  I will fill out the form and send it on its way C.O.R.–Care of Special Reindeer.”


As soon as Santa knelt down beside his four-poster bed to say his prayers, G.G. flew in for an abrupt landing.  “G.G., I think I needed your help this afternoon when I tried to speak to that father of Davey Dierdorf.”


“Oh, Santa, don’t you know by now that I am always with you?  Do you really think that red-nosed reindeer has gotten you through all those foggy nights, blizzards, and icy rooftops?  Rudy is an excellent reindeer, and I love him dearly–but you must know there is so much more to your safety, well-being, faith, and heart.”


“have you ever thought of dropping me a tiny feather once in a while when I am in a pinch so that I know you are watching over me?”


“I do not need to give you a feather, Santa; I give you faith.  Now, I can also give you a glimpse of two future Christmases.  On December 25, 1957, Mr. and Mrs. Dierdorf will be astonished and forever grateful to awaken to the shouts of their son’s announcing that Santa did bring a Perkins brailler for Christmas.  On December 22, 2019, on the television program CBS SUNDAY MORNING, another Hoosier Jane Pauley will interview Davey–David Frederick Dierdorf, a well-known author, most famous for his annual Christmas books.  In the interview with Ms. Pauley, David will explain that a turning point in his young life was his receiving a Perkins brailler for Christmas of 1957.”


* * *


NOTE:  Once again, I have used names of some special people whom I have known as names of characters in this fictional story.  Patsy Dierdorf (of Brazil, Indiana) was an extraordinary volunteer for many years for the Sight-loss Support Group of the Wabash Valley (Indiana); C. Wesley Lambert (Terre Haute), husband of one of the founders of the Sight-loss Support Group of the Wabash Valley, was another very dedicated volunteer throughout the existence of SLSG.  “Keller” was the name of my first Leader Dog.  In honor of my dad who made many Christmases magical and special for me, I gave the character of Davey the same middle name as my father, who was always willing to give a helping hand and words of encouragement to all who were around him.


May your stocking and your heart be filled with the joy and wonder of Christmas,

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


December 24, 2019, Tuesday



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  1. Sue McKendry permalink

    Thanks for this story which I just read on the day after Christmas. I especially liked the guardian angels. Even though angels are a big part of Christmas, I never thought of them as guardian angels, and I never thought about Santa’s and what a big job she had. And I always suspected that Rudolph had some assistance. After a hectic Christmas,this story just renewed my Christmas spirit.

    • Happy Boxing Day!  Sue–I am so glad to hear that you had time to read my new holiday story on this day-after-Christmas.  Thanks so much for the nice comments, including your perspective on Rudolph.

         With the very warm Christmas, Willow and I were delighted to be able to walk fifty blocks yesterday and to meet Willow’s little friend Wilson, a very well-behaved and sweet Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

      More soon!  Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2020!

      Alice and Willow

  2. Dear Alice,
    What a delightful Christmas story! I enjoyed “connecting the dots” of information after you explained the Indiana connections. How nice to recognize special people in your life by using their names in your writing!
    Looking forward to seeing you and Willow soon!
    Love, Mary

    • Christmas Week Greetings!  Mary–During this very busy time of year, I thank you for reading and commenting on my holiday story.

         To respond to your phone question, I purchased my first brailler in the early 1980s, probably 1981 or 1982.  Although my electric Perkins brailler was used the most when I was at Western Michigan University and when I was teaching, I continue to use my precious brailler a great deal.  I still like to have hard copy braille.  On January 4, we will celebrate the 210th anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille, the inventor of braille, as well as the slate and stylus and music braille.

      Enjoy your continuing holiday celebrations!

      Alice and Willow

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