Read an Excerpt
At age six, Bryan asked his grandma Shelley for a Santa Claus suit. She worked on his costume for a month; she sewed him little red pajamas and made him a beard to go with it. She dressed Daniel like an elf so he could be Bryan's helper.
"We were serving the food and we heard this 'Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas' coming up the hall," remembers Shelley, laughing. "Bryan had filled a pillowcase full of his toys. He'd pull a toy out of the pillowcase, put it on the table, and say, 'Merry Christmas.' Then Daniel would come up behind him and pick up the toy, and Bryan would say, 'You can't keep that--that's mine.' They were adorable."
In addition to wanting to be Santa, Bryan's other holiday tradition was to have "lots of batteries" in the house. His mom recalls that Bryan used to remind her to buy batteries every year. "He used to say, 'Now, Mom, before we go to bed and Santa Claus gets here, we have to have lots of batteries,'" explains Anita. "'I'd say, 'Why, Bryan?' He'd say, 'For all the toys, Mom!'"
When he was young, Bryan couldn't wait to open his presents. "When I was a kid, the only thing I thought about was what I was going to get for Christmas," he says. His mother's rule was that he had to wait until Christmas morning to open everything, but he admits his grandma broke that rule. "My grandma spoiled us more than my mom did," says Bryan. "My grandma was the only one who'd let us open a present a day early. My mom would never give in."