I’ve decided to switch gears a bit from the serious tone of recent life lessons, and instead, focus on some fun Christmas memories. One incredible memory, which was a generational tradition on my dad’s side of the family, was dad dressing up and playing Santa for kids. Now I’m not talking about the department store Santas you see all the time. Dad did this, like he does everything, above and beyond what you would expect.
The process of getting dressed, with the wigs and makeup, (gotta have those rosy cheeks), took him hours. Of course, Mom was essential in this metamorphosis. Dad’s suit wasn’t that bright Christmas red you’re used to seeing on Santa. Instead, it was a deeper, richer red. Like a dark burgundy. This added to the uniqueness of his presentation. He had a professional wig for his hair, and the beard was amazing. They’d touch up his eyebrows to make them nice and white.
One of my favorite unique details he came up with was his way of capturing that very first moment at the front door. After getting out of the car, usually a couple blocks from the house, Mom would cover his shoulders with a dusting of shaved ice. He would arrange it with the families that when he arrived, the child or children would be right at the door when it opened. As the door swung open, there was Santa on their porch brushing “North Pole snow” from his shoulders. In fact, he even would get a little on the kids so they could have that added thrill of being sprinkled with snow. Hey, we lived in the Bay Area of California. Most kids have never even seen snow in person.
I could go into more details, but this would take you an hour to read it if I did.
One of the things I appreciate about my dad, and of my parents as a unit, is that they have always done things above and beyond what others would do, and what others would be satisfied with. That attitude has been a tremendous influence to me. This is one reason why just about everyone they’ve ever known has gotten attached to them. They have always loved and given so freely. And I mean freely literally. People would ask my dad how much he would charge or accept for his Santa appearances. With as much seriousness and conviction as one could imagine, he would adamantly refuse to accept money or anything in exchange for what he did. My parents understood the unmatchable reward in just making people, and especially children, happy. Dad did his Santa in prisons, children’s hospitals, for the elderly, churches, living rooms…you name it.
He simply loves blessing people. All people.
Christmas is known as the season of giving. I hope that never goes away. But I’m proud to have had parents who simply lived their lives this way, year in and year out, no matter what the calendar said. I’m thankful that I was raised by people who were not satisfied by the status quo. Why stop at the place where everyone else does? Why stop at “that’ll do”? With a little imagination, and with a huge heart, you can do so much more.
Mom is gone now, but I’m so grateful my dad is still with us. He is truly a legend in my eyes. There just aren’t many like him in this world anymore.