Carrying on the legacy of joy at Christmas
Is it my imagination, or does Christmas come around faster and faster with each passing year?
It seems like just a few weeks ago that we pulled down the tree, packed away the decorations, exchanged (or re-gifted) any present that we did not want or need. And carefully rolled up the lights so that it would not be like pulling apart a wad of chewing gum the next time they went up.
It doesn’t help that retail starts getting you into the Christmas spirit about a week after they finish their back-to-school push. I did not go out this past Black Friday, but I did not hear of any major throwdowns or activity that involved police attention, so I can only assume the area was fairly orderly and quiet.
But Christmas is coming, whether you’re ready for it or not. Fortunately in our household, we are ready.
Our tree actually has been up since before Thanksgiving. We usually buy a new tree every three years or so, and the time had come full-circle for a new one. And since storage space in our house is at a premium, we decided to go ahead and put it up the day we bought it.
It’s not as big as the ones we used to have, but then again, Sandy and I are not as energetic as we used to be, either. So this year, we settled on an “age-appropriate” easy-to-maintain tree. It’s seven feet tall but not as big around at the base as our previous ones.
Our daughter’s boyfriend helped put the lights up across the house. When you have the choice between a young, strong, scrapping person or me up on a ladder … well, you get the picture.
One decorating tradition we have gotten into over the past couple of years is one that actually my sainted father started many years ago.
Dad was an avid Santa figurine collector. He liked all types of Santas, but mostly he was always on the lookout for different types. Santa playing the piano … Santa in a Hawaiian shirt and shorts … Santa soaking his feet after that long overnight trip … if it was different, he wanted it.
The fact that his birthday was 11 days before Christmas made shopping for him that much easier. He could not have too many Santas.
By the time he passed away, Dad had amassed more than 350 different Santa figurines. He used to just pull them out at Christmas time, but we finally convinced him to get a curio cabinet and display them year-round. One can only imagine how many boxes 350+ Santas took up, and if you knew my father, you knew that each one was packed away in a certain order. It just made more sense for him to leave them up all year.
After he passed, we three siblings divided up the collection among ourselves. There were only a few specific ones I wanted from his collection, so I got those and -- being the good baby brother that I am -- let the older sisters share the rest.
I always put out the Santas I had each season, but for the longest time, seeing all of them made me miss him that much more at Christmas.
A couple of years ago, I put out the ones I inherited, then started adding some more. Last year, I added even more. Then I got to the point where I actually would go looking for them in little antique stores, consignment shops, and even local Goodwill stores. You would be amazed at what you can find at any time of the year in those stores. I know I was.
I think at last count, I have about 70 Santa figurines now, including the ones Dad had. Last year, they all stood guard atop a shelving unit in our family room. This year, I probably will scatter them throughout the house. I would love to eventually get a curio cabinet like he had and keep them up all year long, but until then, I have to wrap them up carefully and put them away for their 11-month sabbatical.
There is just something about seeing these Santa figurines that brings a smile to people’s faces and a bit of joy in their hearts. It took me about 15 or so years to get over my general sadness and realize that Dad’s Santa figurines were meant to be put out at Christmas and enjoyed. And any that I can add to that collection only will honor his precious legacy.
Now if you will excuse me, I got some Santa-ing to do. Merry Christmas, Dad!