Bobby was the first one up. He was there at the foot of the bed, at 6:28 a.m., sitting quietly, Indian style. He knew better than to make the first sound, so he waited until his mom yawned before he said what he had wanted to say for the last four hours, ever since he popped out of bed in the middle of the night.
"C'mon, let's go downstairs," said Bobby. "C'mon, lets go downstairs."
On most mornings, Chris and Bob Summers would have told their 9-old son to go back to his own room or go downstairs by himself if he thought it was such a big deal.
But this was Christmas morning, the morning Bobby had prepared for by going to bed right after supper the evening before - voluntarily, joyfully. On this morning, Chris and Bob Summers did as their son suggested. They got up, and followed Bobbly and his two sisters - 7-year-old Adria and little Lisa, age 4 - down the stairs from the third floor to the first floor of their new townhouse at Tyson's Manor in Vienna.
The family sat down on the floor of the family room, around a 7-foot tree that was artificial but, with its brown and green coloring, its needles and its smell, seemed almost real. Chris Summers began using artificial trees for Christmas seven years ago, right after the needles on a real pine tree fell off three days before the big day.
The tree was not that important on this morning anway. The three kids hardly looked at it; they looked at the gaily wrapped packages underneath, the ones that Santa Claus had placed there the night before, sometime between 11.30 and midnight.
Bobby knew for sure that it was Santa Claus who had brought all the presents. He knew for sure because his mom had told him that if Santa didn't bring the presents there would not be any presents. That was all it took to make him believe.
Bobby and his sisters also knew for sure that Santa Claus was a smart old man, because he brought them what they wanted. Lisa got a Sesame Street playhouse, some games and Tinkerbell makeup.
"She bugs me about makeup all the time," said Chris Summers, reflecting on how good it was that Santa brought some for her little girl. "She wants everything I'm putting on, now she'll have it."
For Adria, there was some makeup, too, along with a super-size Barbie doll (new on the market this year), and a board game featuring Charlie's Angels.
Bobby got a warm-up suit ("the one with the Status symbol alligator on it," according to mom), a backgammon game, and a skateboard. This was nont just any skateboard, not like the old one he had. This was a fiberglass skateboard with Kryptonic wheels, the kind of wheels that turn this way and that when you shift your weight around.
Santa, ever cautious, also gave Bobby a crash helmet to wear when he was riding the Kryptonic wheels.
At 7 o'clock, with some presents still unwrapped, Bobby was out of the house, up on the top of the hill on Larkin Lane. As the sun came up and house lights flickered throughout the development, one little boy - all alone - could be seen weaving around the slalom cones, down the hill in Vienna.