Christmas was always a special time in my family with exciting outings organized by my mom who enjoyed it just as much as us kids did. One year, when I was nine, my Grandpa suggested we should go to Toronto to see the famous Santa Claus parade. Grandpa was a shop foreman for the CNR and he organized the days outing for us. I was so excited! The prospects of going on the train to Toronto, seeing the parade and visiting Santa was more than I’d ever dreamed of! The morning of our adventure I woke up feeling a bit nauseous, but I didn’t let on. Mom seemed to notice and put her hand on my forehead to see if I had a fever, but I ignored her. I dressed in my pleated plaid skirt and sweater, pulled on my long ribbed brown stockings and put on the green wool coat trimmed with the Persian lamb collar that Mom had made from one of her own coats which had always been my favourite and my knitted cap and mitts. When I was putting on my galoshes I felt cramps in my stomach and stayed bent over for awhile. Mom questioned me, but again I shrugged it off and said I was just fine.
We set off for the train: Grandpa, Grandma, Mom, my cousin Gracie, my little sister and me. It was about a two hour trip to Toronto from where we lived and as we travelled through the snowy countryside I began to feel even sicker than when I’d first got up that morning. By the time we arrived at Toronto I was burning up with a fever and hardly felt like moving. Mom gave me something for my stomach ache and worried over me. But I insisted I was alright to go to the parade. To tell the truth, I was so sick that I can’t even remember what we saw, no matter how exciting it was. All I wanted to do was go somewhere warm and lie down. But I didn’t say anything because, being the determined child that I always was, I wanted to make sure I got to see Santa.
After the parade we went to the big Eatons department store and up to Toyland where Santa had his throne and was greeting children. I didn’t even feel like looking at the toys, not even the paper doll books which usually interested me more than dolls or anything else. By the time it was my turn to sit on Santa’s lap I was feeling so sick I had a hard time even managing a weak smile. Santa talked to me and asked me questions but I could barely speak. Worst of all, I thought that if I didn’t get off his knee I was going to puke all over him. When I look at the photo they took of me on Santa’s knee that day, I see a pale-faced child looking absolutely miserable. It was the worst Christmas excursion I could ever remember. And I sure hope Santa didn’t catch my germs!