Christmas memories of Daddy and Santa Claus
by Ronella Stager, Columnist
Dec 26, 2012 | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Santa always came to see us at our grandparents’ house. After all, they had the big fireplace and chimney. Even I knew that Santa Claus couldn’t come down the chimney at our parents’ house. We just had a grate and how could he squeeze into that little space with a pack on his back? When we were at Ma’s, my sister Sally and I slept in a big double bed that could be pulled up to stand against the wall during the day. It had a big thick mattress filled with straw and lots of quilts on it and was such a wonderful bed. We slept in the room with Ma and Pa because it was the warmest room in the house. Christmas Eve was so exciting that we just couldn’t get to sleep. I would lie awake hoping to hear the bells on Santa’s sleigh and the reindeer hooves on Pa’s old tin roof. And sure enough, eventually, if I listened very carefully, after everyone was asleep, I could hear those tiny hooves. I would wake my sister so she could hear them. Oh, the wonder of it all! Sally was so little, three years younger than I, that sometimes she just couldn’t hear the reindeer but she believed if I said so.

Now, I believed that Santa Claus was real and would always come to our Pa’s house, no matter what the bigger kids at school said. I was nobody’s fool. After all, I heard him go over Pa’s house and we had all the presents to prove it.

Once, when I was six, and we lived on the farm, I had just started walking to school with the kids whose father worked on the farm. Coming home from school, they told me a terrible thing. They said that Santa was dead. They said that their daddy had shot him out behind their house so there wouldn’t be any Christmas. I was just devastated and dashed into the house shouting the news to Mama and Daddy. I can still remember that scene after all these years. Daddy gathered me into his big arms and assured me that it wasn’t so. How this scenario ended was never fully revealed to me but I did know that Daddy promptly went around the hill to that house to have a “talk” with the man. I do remember also that Daddy was very angry and when Daddy was angry, everybody knew it. He made a trip to the store at neighboring Rockcastle and came back with some little gifts for those kids, although I am sure he could hardly afford it in those hard times. He also took them some fruit and candy. That poor family didn’t last long on the farm after that.

When I was about seven, I heard some talk at school about the truth of Santa. Now, I never believed a word about the “Easter Bunny” but I didn’t believe the story they were spreading about Santa Claus. I thought and thought about it all and came to some conclusions all by myself. I never told my sister and I didn’t tell my parents but slowly I decided that no matter what the facts really were, it was too wonderful to disbelieve completely.

At the risk of repeating the story of the mean mail carrier, a thing happened that just ruined Christmas for me one year and also for my little sister. Our parents were able to order two little toys for each of us from the Sears, Roebuck catalog. Each day, one of them would walk down our lane to the road to meet the mail carrier to get the package before we saw it. When it finally came, Mr. Rogers passed on by them and went on the mile or so to our school and gave the package to us. Unfortunately, it was so torn that we could see the little dolls and the little banks. My four-year old sister had gone to school with me because we were expecting to see a program at school where our aunt was teacher. I still remember walking home with the torn package and walking into the house. It must have been devastating to our parents who had no money for more presents. I don’t remember how they handled the situation but I do remember that Mr. Rogers had two enemies from that time on, my Daddy and me. I still remember what he looked like. Later on I would go down to meet the mail carrier to buy stamps for Ma and to get her mail and I loved to just stare at him. As you can tell, I held a grudge for a long, long time.

Christmas was a wonderful time at that old house on the hill where my wonderful grandparents lived. Their three children almost always came home and all the family would stay for a few days and did we have a wonderful time. There was much wonderful food, so much laughter and much catching up on all the family from far and wide. I marvel today that there was never a harsh word in that old house and we owed that to Ma. She was a gentle, loving person but she also had a will of iron and Ma would tolerate no arguing or hard feelings in her house. Those were wonderful times with our sweet, gentle grandparents.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and I hope you remember wonderful times at Christmas.

Please feel free to call me at 270-522-3632. And thank you for your kind words.
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