But no reindeers returned.
Now at eight, she understood. A big girl, Ma called her. She knew traditions were make-believe. The sleigh was unreal.
Despondently she turned away, blinking away her tears, and headed home.
There by the warm fireplace stood an antlered shape carrying with it the ghost of her long gone Pa. It nuzzled into her outstreched hands and her heart skipped a beat.