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“A snowman,” Alice said.

“A snowman!” Santa said. “What an odd thing to ask for. Why do you want a snowman, little girl?”

“My name is Alice,” said Alice. “And I’m not a little girl. I’m six. And I want a snowman because I’ve never had one.”

“Ho, ho, ho! That’s because you live in Dallas!” Santa said. “It never snows in Dallas on Christmas. Indeed, it hardly snows in Dallas at all. So I’m afraid you can’t have a snowman, little girl. Perhaps I shall bring you a nice doll instead.”

“No!” cried Alice. “If you’re Santa Claus, you can bring me anything I want! And I want a snowman!”

She would have stamped her foot, but she was sitting in Santa’s lap on a golden throne on the stage of the Majestic Theatre. Santa had come to Dallas to find out what its children wanted for Christmas, which was only two days away. Hundreds of boys and girls had come with their mothers to meet him. They were standing in a long line, waiting to climb into his lap.

“Shame, Alice!” her mother scolded. “That’s no way to talk to Santa Claus! Maybe he’ll bring you some lumps of coal or some sticks!”

“I don’t care!” said Alice. “A snowman is what I want!” She was having a very cranky day.

Mama grabbed Alice’s arm and pulled her down from Santa’s lap. She marched her up the aisle, past all the waiting children, and out onto the sidewalk, which was crowded with grown-ups carrying packages.

“Maybe he won’t even bring you coal or sticks,” Mama muttered, helping Alice onto the streetcar.

Neither said another word all the way home.

Papa

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