This guy is awesome.
He’s been under my Christmas tree every year of my life. And then some. I don’t know how long he’s been in the family. The family isn’t really even sure where he came from. I read once about these kind of Santa dolls maybe having originated in department store holiday displays in the fifties or sixties. That would make sense. Dad managed a Sears store for, like, forever.
Wherever he came from, he’s a link to Christmas Past, Present, and Future. As a kid, placing him under the tree marked the completion of the holiday decorating ritual. Every single year, even when the rest of the family, frankly was tired of him. And today, he’s a link to Christmas long gone.
Back in the day, decorating the Christmas tree was an all day affair. When I was really little, I’d make a fort out of the Christmas tree box (yes, we usually went artificial). When I got older, I’d be in charge of dragging the decorations up from the basement while Mom and Dad went out for breakfast. I was more interested in twinkle lights than eggs over easy. And year after year, my primary job was to untangle the strings of lights and replace any burned out bulbs.
The crap jobs of holiday decorating. But I couldn’t wait to do it every year. Some years the tree was up by Thanksgiving. One year, I think we even had twotrees.
On tree decorating day , there was Christmas music on the huge-ass console stereo. Or sometimes a football game on the black and white TV dragged Into the living room for the occasion. The scent of popcorn mingled with the musty-but-pleasing scent of unpacked holiday candles and old, time-worn decorations.
The tree goes up. Dad masterfully strings the lights. A string of garland. Maybe some tinsel (a relic of a bygone era – the cats would eat it if we tried to use it now) and finally, as twilight sets in outside, the ornaments go on. Lots of them. Finally, the step stool comes out and Dad puts the star atop the tree.
Oh, Christmas tree indeed.
Then, for the next several weeks, most evenings before dinner, you’d find me In the darkened living room, save for the tree lights, lying beneath the tree, staring up between the branches at the twinkle light playing off the ornaments while Christmas music played on that giant stereo and a poodle sat at my feet.
The tree my family has now doesn’t have enough clearance at the bottom to lay under it. I regret that. We put up great trees and a lot of our ornaments are cool and the trees now are the ones I’ve created with my own family and all that. But nothing can completely replace those trees from when I was a kid.
But Santa still shows up every year.