The parents should have known he was up to something.
There were enough signs suggesting as much, starting with his requests to use the car to run into town "to do some errands."
What those errands exactly were he never said because his folks didn't ask. And those errands became multiple.
Then the same young man started making phone calls, but the calls were made only when he had shut the door. More mystery, more signs of befuddlement occurred when on his bed lay new pair of mittens, small in size to fit a child. What child? Where? What's going on?
Before long, next to his bed, lay a row of grocery-sized paper bags, all filled with, well, something. Not sure then what was in them. The bags had been stapled at the top. How long could this puzzle go on?
Not too long, as it soon came to a head. The next day came the point for pointed questions when he again requested to use the car - during a big snowstorm. So where are you going? To a junction north of Blackduck. Huh? His request came when outside was a swirling combination of rain and snow and ice and howling wind, with the radio station interrupting programs to warn Bemidji area drivers to stay home, and if they had to drive, to be extra careful on these treacherous roads. The announcer said it was bad now and it would be getting worse as a major blizzard was on its way and could hit anytime.
And he wants to drive to some place north of Blackduck? Bad timing. Enough already. Time to level with the folks; time to get some answers to this enigma. Confession time was required and it arrived, but started, however, with his assertion that he'd rather not have had anybody know about this, whatever the "this" was. He added that it was simply the right thing to do and so he did it.
As a beginning answer, he then came with an issue of The Buyline, and pointed out four small items on page three, asking first if we had read them. Nope.
The first brief letter read: "Dear Santa, I would like mittens for me and my brother, school supplies and a movie. Boy 7."
The second letter, a little longer: "I would like a rolling book bag, puppy, flashlight, Spiderman house shoes, and mittens and a truck. Joseph, age 6."
Third letter: "Dear Santa, I would like a sled, clothes, and cookies. Boy 9."
Last letter: "Dear Santa, This year for Christmas I want 2 new sets of earrings (small), 2 new duds (pg), A infant outfit for a lady I meet that dosen't (sic) have much and is about to have a baby girl (size 0). Santa, I don't care if I get it all but the infant outfit would be nice. Love, Destin age 10."
There was no address, no telephone number following these Dear Santa letters, hence the young man's phone calls to the Buy Line office, first wondering if anyone else had already inquired about aiding these kids who wrote the letters, and the answer was no, no one.
That led to his not only getting the phone number but also learning that all the letters came from the same family. Next came his phone call to the family itself, but after revealing his intent to the mother, it soon was difficult to communicate further because the mother was crying so hard.
Afterwards there followed more errands to town for his shopping, which items eventually filled the five grocery bags.
He was able to fulfill all the kids' requests except one: the puppy. He suggested that decision might best be a family matter. Just one last phone call to agree to a meeting place to deliver the gifts and how they would recognize each other at the designated time and meeting place.
For this rendezvous there were no problems; it all went off smoothly. The bags full of the requests were switched from one car to the other; some brief small talk followed and then each party drove away. It was done. End of mystery. End of story.
For most, if not all parents, it seems that there is no end to surprises that keep coming from their children.
In this case, it turns out that the young man in the above event is our son, Scott.
He was here on vacation for the recent holidays, here in Bemidji visiting from his own home in Tucson, Ariz., where he's employed as a counselor in a middle school.
Art Lee is professor emeritus at Bemidji State University.