Like all of us, I have fond memories of Christmases past. A few involve jolly old "St. Nick." Sure, I have a childhood photo or two of me sitting on Santa's lap. Another memory is Christmas visits with our maternal grandparents. My grandmother's birthday was Christmas Eve. It was a family tradition for us to visit Grandma on her birthday. I am the youngest of eight, so every year, we would pile into the station wagon, and off we went to Mount Oliver to see our grandparents.
One year, on the ride home, we were stopped at a red light, and Santa appeared. Yeah! Well, not entirely great. Our enthusiasm diminished as the jolly old soul staggered out of a South Side bar and passed out on the curb. Of course, my dad heard loud quips, "What is wrong with Santa Claus?" He was at a loss for words. My dad didn't know how to tell his young kids that Santa had too much Christmas cheer that year.
Speaking of cheers, I went to Three Rivers Stadium with my husband and brother during another Christmas season. We were at a Steelers game, and the opponent was our divisional rival, the Cleveland Browns. Sitting in the stands to our right in the next section, we spotted Santa Claus. The awesome part was that Santa was a Steelers fan!
Mr. Claus and a few disgruntled Browns fans engaged in a brawl. Sadly, Santa was getting thumped on, and security was called. Santa dashed left and came into our section, then he kept going left and took off like a flash. Security came running out in hot pursuit of St. Nick. Being true Steelers fans, the crowd was on Santa's side, and like clockwork, the folks in our section and the next section all pointed to the right – "Santa ran that way!" It was great to see the camaraderie. We had to send security in the wrong direction. We couldn't rat out a fellow Steelers fan, so fortunately he got away unscathed.
A final St. Nick account pertains to the family Santa heirloom that I now own. It's a plastic standup statue that's about three feet tall. He always sat on the fireplace during Christmas at my dad's house. Now, I keep him in my living room. When you come up my steps, Santa sits off to the right. My husband, Paul, and I made sure that we set him out every Christmas. Well, my youngest son, Nathan, who has autism, wants nothing to do with us storing Santa away after the holidays. No matter where we stow him, Nathan digs him out and puts him back in our living room. He has dug him out from under the steps and has even gone up in the attic to retrieve him. We gave up; so Santa has become a permanent fixture in our living room 365 days a year.
Several years ago, Nathan peeled the eyes off Santa. It makes for quite an interesting conversation piece. I refer to him as our "Oedipus Santa." Finding a way to fix Santa's eyes is on my to-do list. I'm sure I will find a way. Well, I hope Santa is good to all of you, and here's wishing each of you a ho-ho, jolly holiday season!
By Paula Green