Friday, December 08, 2006

Christmas Traditions: 8

Our cut-out wooden Santa Claus. My mother and her mother and her father (my maternal grandparents, for those not able to follow that logic) made it, based on a poster my grandmother purchased at a Hallmark store. This Santa was pretty important to my mom, since her father died when she was 27 and that Santa represented time spent together.

Santa was life-sized, and carefully made and painted. He stood in front of my grandmother's house for years, until she gave him to my mother. Then he stood outside our house for years, braving the weather and vandals and my father's holiday benders.

It seemed like Santa always had thick, steel-plate feet attached via a pretty impressive weld job to a large, steel-plate stand. This was not always so. Apparently, my dad went out drinking with some buddies, beginning early afternoon. My mother didn't really think anything of it, and put up the household decorations, including standing Santa near our driveway. Well, my dad came home, lit up like a christmas tree and clipped Santa.

We heard the noise and everyone came running out to see my Dad stick his head out of his (newly painted) black pickup. Mom yelled at him for hitting Santa, but my dad was furious about the dings and scrapes on his truck.

"I'll show you about hitting that goddamned Santa!" yelled my father. He put the truck into reverse and RAN OVER SANTA, snapping him off at the legs!

I don't remember this, being that I most likely blocked the sight of my father going medieval on Kris Kringle's ass, but my mother claims I started screaming "DADDY IS KILLING SANTA! DADDY IS KILLING SANTA! KILLING SANTA! at which point she whisked me into the house, and locked my father out. I think he spent the night in the shed.

Anyway, we can laugh at it now. My remorseful father rebuilt Santa, bigger, better and stronger with steel plate feet attached to a steel plate base. That base alone weighed half a ton, and thereafter, my father had to set it up because my mother could no longer manage it.

The painted Santa finally succumbed to old age after moving to Maryland and living on apartment balconies for three years and in front of my first home for one. The paint, being well over 40 years old, just distingrated, despite my careful attempts to preserve it. The base was still going strong, though.

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