I wrote this for the Sonshine blog. It came as a remembrance of my Father the weekend I found the Santa suit and it seemed like a special visitation from my earthy father as I wrote it.
My Dad died when I was 9 so these memories were filled with his presence.......
There is much more I could say about Santa and how we grappled with it for our six children. In the end our family is closely-knit and somewhat linked by our memories of Christmas........ there was never any confusion over who our saviour was because the earthly man that started a part of the tradition was a bishop who made giving his lifestyle.....that is the memory we honor when we talk of St. Nicolas..........who also loved our Lord.........and do we play games with our children......for sure we did, with abandon.......
By Joian Schroff
Hi Honey, I found the Santa Suit!
My daughter screamed into the phone with delight. She had been looking for the red and white costume since last Christmas.
Oh mom, where was it? I explained that it had been on the bottom of a box of fall decorations and that I would be sending it to her as soon as possible. We chatted a while then said our goodbye's. Folding the costume into a box I began to remember my first run in with the jolly old man.
My dad came from a hard working Missouri clan who eked out their livelihood on a farm. He and his brother hitchhiked to California when he was still a young man. Eventually his family sold the farm and came to the Golden State.
When I came into the picture, my father was on his third marriage. My mother was sixteen years his junior, and a widow with three children. I've heard many stories about the beginning of their marriage but as hard and tired a man as my father had to be, he had this tangible life that drew others. He had been tagged with the name Orval Conrad Kerr, but his friends called him Pete. I loved being Pete's daughter. Our home was a constant flow of his family and friends and my mother was the reluctant hostess but they made a good team. They bought this two story oblong box of a house and set out to remodel it. I was two when they moved our family of nine to Orange County. Years would pass in that orange grove surrounded homestead. Idyllic in my memory.
When I was six I was able to be trusted out in the yard by myself. My Dad had cleaned out an old chicken coop and made it into a playhouse for me, my mother added pretty little curtains. I still remember how loved I felt when he said, this is all yours, Joian. Whenever possible I would follow him around while he worked on that old house. How I loved watching that old handsaw cut into a new piece of wood and yes, I loved my father.
Holidays were special because of him. He had a way of making things magical. The 4th of July was celebrated with homemade ice cream, watermelon and corn on the cob.......then at sundown he would grab the keys and say let's go see who wants to sell this big old gang of kids some cheap fireworks. He would drive around until he found a firework stand that would give him a good deal and then we would head home with our prizes.
Just before my 5th birthday he came home with an armload of dresses, taffeta's, velvets and a front lace-up orange pumpkin colored dress(yes, I still remember them). Seems he had put a phone in at a dress makers business. These were all sample dresses which she sold to him for pennies on the dollar. Someday I will recall that day to him and share how he made me feel like a princess.
Christmas however, was the holiday you held your breath for. It never came fast enough and never lasted long enough. From the time my grandparents old model "A" hit the end of the driveway and my brother's jumped on the running boards for the ride to the house, my stomach was constantly fliting with butterflies. The house was filled with the smells of my mother's cooking. Every corner was spic and span.
We had to go to bed early Christmas Eve. We were each given one of my mother's old nylon stockings to hang on the wall by the tree in anticipation of a visit from Santa Claus. My younger brother and I shared a bed and talked in whispers unable to sleep for hours. Several times my father would come to the bottom of the stairs and warn us to go to sleep or he would have to spank us...........and finally we did.
I awoke to this terrible crashing noise and then heard my brothers come running down the hallway, two of them jumped the banister to the landing below and I could hear my father yelling something. By the time my short legs took me to the bottom of the stairs everyone was standing around my father.....as he began to explain how this fat man, dressed in a red and white suit had broken into the house and was trying to get away with something in this bag.
He lowered the gunny sack off his shoulder and dumped out the contents. It was full of candy, oranges and nuts. My older brothers began to yell it was Santa Claus and my Dad made some surprised remark like, well I'll be..........that was one of the most memorable days of my life.
It would take me decades to understand how that morning was his outpouring of love for his children. It was much later I also found out the terrible crashing noise had been metal pie tins thrown against the stairs..........one way to get everyone up!
Over the years I have been criticized by my peers for playing the same kind of games with my children. But I could not be stopped by their religious misgivings.
So I have the memories of the year Santa slipped and fell in the mud during a rain storm, with my son in hot pursuit. The year Santa wore a red bandana because we couldn't find his hat. The year I climbed out on the roof with a stick pretending to be reindeer. The Santa's costumes we stuffed with pillows in the early mornings. The stockings we filled, the late nights spent putting together toys and the love we gave as we planned and schemed for that much requested, longed for gift.
My ears go dull when I hear others fearing we would teach our children to believe in someone imaginary or somehow dishonor the Lord by taking away from his day. I knew what my earthly, Daddy had taught me and I knew my children wouldn't discover it until they were much older. It is a sacrifice to create magic for your children. One day when they have children of their own and are dragging their tired bodies around re-creating the magic, they will remember. That's when they will know how much you loved them and wanted the best for them.
I got that Pete.............I got it.
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?Luke 11:12-14