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 Texas : Features : Columns : Spunky Flat and Beyond :
SANTY CLAUS
by George Lester
George Lester
I think every kid in Texas said "Santy" instead of "Santa" when I was of the age to really enjoy the magic of this jolly old elf. Everyone I have talked to about it has some wonderful memories of those exciting weeks of anticipation before Christmas. The first experience I can remember concerning Santa Claus was in Waco, Texas when I was about 5. My mother, Sam and I were in the car, waiting for Dad to come out of a store. Sam squealed with delight when he saw Santa approaching down the sidewalk with a bunch of kids tagging along. I peered carefully out the window and caught sight of him. In that red suit with high, shiny, black boots and wearing a fluffy white beard he looked ten feet tall to me. Sam jumped out to go greet him. I stayed put. After a while he came over to the car to say hello. As he bent down to poke his head in the window I let out a blood curdling scream and climbed under the dash board. Poor Santa left to avoid causing further trauma to a frightened kid.

After I was no longer afraid of Santa Claus he held the same fascination for me as every other kid. Maybe even more so. When I relax and let my mind drift back to those glorious times of yesteryear I can still feel the tingle of excitement and awe as I awaited the arrival of Santa on Christmas eve. The other kids all talked about his sleigh and reindeer but I was too practical minded for such nonsense. I knew he drove a car like everyone else. We often spent the holiday at my grandparents in Vivian, Louisiana. I would lie awake and listen to a car driving by thinking this has to be him. I never managed to stay awake long enough to catch him in the act. There was that time we were visiting friends on the night before the big day. They had the most beautiful Christmas tree I had ever seen. We had never had one nearly as spectacular in our own house. I was drawn to it like a magnet. I guess our hostess had visions of my destroying the tree because she stopped me short and diplomatically explained that I must go into the next room because if Santa Claus saw anyone by the tree he wouldn't come in and leave presents. I obeyed and retired into the other room with the adults. As they indulged in idle chatter my mind was focused entirely on the Christmas tree room and the thought that at any moment Santa would be slipping in quietly to leave his precious cargo for the kids. When no one was watching I slipped out and hid in the shadows just outside the door and peered in at the tree. There was a soft glow of light bathing the room is a rainbow of colors. I suppose I have seen more beautiful images since then. Try as I might, right now I can't think of any. I was convinced that if I remained very still I would see Saint Nicholas come creeping into the room, laden with all kinds of gifts for the children who lived there. About that time my mother called and I had to leave. If only I could have stayed a little while longer. Who Knows?
George Lester
Spunky Flat and Beyond - A Memoir
- December 15, 2005 column
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