I’ll never forget the first time Santa Claus visited our house—I do mean the real Santa, red suit and all—early one Sunday evening in December of 1967.
It really started in July of that year when our oldest son Billy, age 10, found an old pair of bright red knit pajamas in a large size. He showed them to me and asked if he could make a Santa suit out of them.
‘In the middle of July, on the hottest day so far, you want to make a Santa suit?” I asked in disbelief.
He wasn’t kidding, and I couldn’t think of any reason why he shouldn’t, so he put the pajamas in a box and hid them.
I forgot about it over the next months, but Billy didn’t. Right after Santa came to town, he showed me the box.
He had collected all of the accessories necessary to complete his outfit except for some cotton to make a beard. He planned to appear on Christmas Eve in full dress, if I’d provide the cotton.
Two weeks before Christmas I finally got the cotton, and the next day he decided it was time for a visit from Saint Nick.
It was early Sunday evening, and their favorite television show was coming on when the older kids, Irene, Bobby, and Joyce, started giggling and shouting, “Listen I hear Santa’s helicopter!”
“Will you please shut up?” I almost begged. I really needed the 60 minutes of peace and quiet that show provided on Sunday evenings.
Finally, with much eye rolling, gesturing, and in spite of the giggles, they managed to explain that Billy was about to debut as the jolly old elf.
The doorbell rang, they yanked our door open, and there stood our 10-year-old, fantastically transformed into Mr. Claus. He had filled the red pajamas out with a pillow. His snow boots had a cuff of white cotton fur glued in place. On his head was his sister’s red stocking hat with white cotton hair sticking out from under it, and he had a lovely cotton beard carefully scotch taped on his face.
The three youngest boys stared at him in wide-eyed wonder. Eddy, age four, recovered first and began to recite his list to Santa. When he asked for a toy he had already broken, Santa said, “You can’t have that. You already busted one up.”
John who was three gazed at Santa in awe. He was almost speechless, so Santa had to prompt him.
Meanwhile Eddy had sneaked behind Santa and was getting suspicious. Ed looked at me and said, “That’s not Santa. That’s Billy.”
“Why do you think that?” I asked.
“Look,” said Ed as he made a grab for Santa’s hat. I made a grab for Eddy’s arm as Santa turned around and punched Ed on the other arm and growled, “Watch it, kid!”
I softly suggested it was time for Santa to leave. He took Joe’s Christmas order, then gave us a hearty ‘Ho, Ho! Ho! See you Christmas Eve.”
He tried to disappear out the front door so he could reappear through the basement as brother Billy, but the little believers kept watching and waving.
There he stood on the front sidewalk in the red pajamas with his taped-on beard, gesturing wildly to the older kids to get the younger ones away from the door, as the evening traffic went past our house slower than ever before.
Just before bedtime we found out how successful the Santa act was. John brought me a picture of Santa Claus and asked, “Who is that?”
“I don’t know,” I teased, “Who is that?”
“That’s Billy,” he informed me.
“No,” I corrected, “that’s Santa.”
“Yeah,” he agreed happily. “Billy is Santa and he lives at our house all year long!”
All of our children are grown up now and have children of their own, and I know for a fact that Santa lives in each of their homes just as he still lives with us.
My Christmas wish for all of you is that Santa, the spirit of Christmas, lives in your house too.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column first appeared in the Greenville Advocate December 18, 1996.
Kathleen Floyd is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her column Back Around the House II. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.