"Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas! And to whom am I speaking?"
"Well, hello, Santa! This is Tucker and Tyler's house!"
And just like that, the boys came running at the sound of Santa's merry voice on speaker through my cell phone, which was remarkably similar to the voice of Uncle Rob. (Wink, wink.)
The boys fell over one another, trying to get to the phone to say hello.
"Hi, Santa! Hello! Thank you for our jammies!"
"Oh, you got the jammies I sent? Well, I'm glad to hear that. Ho! Ho! Ho!"
"Are you flying through the sky, Santa?"
"Yes! Yes, I am!" (My brother does an uncanny impersonation.)
"We left oats in the driveway for your reindeer!"
"Oh! You did! I see! Well, Blitzen, and Vixen, and um, Dancer and all the others will love that."
"And will you come down our chimney with a bound?"
"Why, yes. Yes, I will come down your chimney."
I offered my translation. "Santa, they're asking about the poem. Down the chimney he came - with a bound?"
"Oh! Oh, yes! I will come down the chimney, with a bound, just like the poem."
"And remember that part about the bowlful of jelly?"
Giggle, giggle. It's their favorite part of the poem.
(Listen to what this brother of mine did to me.)
"Well, Ho! Ho! Ho! That has been a misprint for hundreds of years! It says that my belly shakes when I laugh like a bowlful of jelly, but really, I love to eat a bowlful of jelly! And my very favorite houses are the ones who leave me a bowlful of jelly!"
The boys looked at me, their eyes round with surprise. Who knew Santa loves grape jelly?
And in the background at our house, my husband yelled to his brother-in-law, "I'll give you some jelly, Santa."
"Yes! Jelly! Don't forget! Well, I must go to deliver all the gifts to the children, but make sure to go to sleep so I can come to your house too!"
"Okay, Santa! Thank you, Santa! Merry Christmas, Santa! We love you, Santa!"
"Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night! And don't forget about that bowlful of jelly! Ho! Ho! Ho!"
And with that, my brother single-handedly rewrote my children's version of 'Twas The Night Before Christmas, and he personally instated a tradition to continue for the forseeable future.
When we hung up the phone, I received a text moments later, from 'Santa' himself:
I expect your family to leave a bowful of jelly for Santa every year.
Consider it done.
Merry Christmas, Santa.
And Merry Christmas, Uncle Rob.