Friday, December 19, 2008

Santa Claus c 1967

Santa disappeared off my porch last year. It was dark when I arrived home from work just after 5 o'clock. No one was home, and the house was dark both within and outside. As I got out of the car and bounded up on the porch, I instantly noticed something was wrong. Very wrong. Santa Claus was gone.

In a panic, I turned on the porch light and searched around outside. Where could he have gone? In disbelief, I searched through the house. Did someone bring him inside? Where was Santa?

Finally the cold truth settled in my brain that Santa Claus had been stolen. It was a hard hit. You see, this Santa was special. He came home one day with my father who found him at Gibson's Department Store when we lived in Greenville, Mississippi. When it came to Christmas, Daddy was a child at heart and a sucker for Christmas decorations. This 31 inch plastic Santa with a light bulb inside was a novelty that year, and Daddy couldn't resist him. So he came home to live with us that Christmas.

Every year Santa came out of hiding to be plugged up outside on the porch along with the other Christmas decorations. We moved from Greenville to Fulton in 1969, and Santa came with us. After a few years, however, Santa was no longer high-tech. Some Christmases he stayed in the attic, replaced by more current holiday decor.

And there he stayed until one Christmas when Daddy took Santa to Peaceful Valley to his new home in the country. My parents had bought Big Daddy's house from the rest of the family, and previously unused Christmas decorations suddenly had a new lease on life. I wish I had a picture of old Santa Claus, perched on top of the newly refurbished outhouse, all lit up and perfectly, wonderfully visible from the road to passers-by. Daddy had run an extension cord from the outhouse to inside Big Daddy's house. Santa Claus was back in business again.

After Daddy died, Santa came home with me. His first Christmas in Oxford passed without incident on our front porch, and every time Santa's body was filled with a warm glow, mine was likewise, full of fond memories of Christmas past. Until that dark December day when Santa was gone. Stolen. I don't know what kind of person would steal a forty-year old Santa Claus. Not a very nice one, I can tell you that.

Thanks to the wonders of e-bay, a nearly identical Santa Claus was found, and within days he was in Oxford, but not on my front porch. Nowadays, Santa is enjoying life inside our house where he takes his place amid decorations both old and new, low-tech and high-tech. And even though he is not the same Santa that we enjoyed for forty years, he still brings joy and he still provides that warm glow.

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