Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Passing of Santa

I believed in Santa Claus for a very long time. Nearly all of my cousins did, too. We all believed because for us, Santa Claus was real.

Santa kicked off the holiday season every year as the anchor of the annual Christmas Parade. His reindeer were artfully arranged in front of the sleigh on top of a big firetruck so that it looked like they were flying. Because Dad was a fireman, we often got to ride on the truck with Santa to wave and throw candy to kids along the parade route.

Santa always knew my name and more than a little about me. Same with my sister and all my cousins. He knew where we went to school, the grade we were in, whether or not we participated in any extra-curricular activities, and of course, if we'd been good or bad.

Santa hosted an afternoon show on a local television station. He read letters from area children in between cartoons. Our letters were read on air every year. At the end of every show, Santa would wave good-bye to various children by name (first name only). All the kids in our large, extended family received these personal greetings at the end of every show.

Santa dropped in to visit all the cousins at least once in the weeks leading up to Christmas every year. He would arrive in a red car from the fire department with his official photographer. We would sit in Santa's lap and whisper in his ear what we wanted for Christmas. Once in a while, pictures of Santa taken at our house appeared in the local newspaper. All the cousins have lots and lots of photographs taken with Santa over the years.

For a variety of reasons, the fire department provided the official Santa for the city of Lexington. Years later we learned that Uncle Gene, another fireman in the family, was the official Santa for most of our childhood. When I look at those old pictures today, I can tell it's him. But throughout my childhood I never had a clue. I even stumbled across a closet full of Santa suits at his house but never made the connection.

I have told him many many times how special it was to grow up in a family where Santa was real. He loved being Santa and looked forward to it every year. He told me that the home visits started out as bathroom breaks. He called our names out at the end of every television show because there were 16 of us, we all had different names, and it was a good way to cover a lot of possibilities. It tickled him that being Santa had made such an impression on me.

Uncle Gene passed away yesterday. He was a sweet, wonderful man that will be sorely missed by all of us who loved him. The loss of our beloved C-Sir leaves Momma as the sole survivor of eight siblings. I have many, many fond memories of time spent with Uncle Gene. The last time I saw him, he told me he wanted to share with me two important lessons he had learned. With Santa's sparkle in his eye, he told me not to trust my farts, and to pee any time a facility was available because you never knew when you'd have another chance. Truer words I've seldom heard...

1 comment:

MadeMark said...

I'm sorry to hear about your uncle. And I loved the way you remembered it all in such vivid detail.

Follow CrotchetyMan on Twitter