Sharing the memories of those who have gone before us is a way to keep alive the value of life and to enrich the lives of those descendants who did not have the privilege of experiencing life with them. My children were blessed to know their great-grandparents. They have fond memories and of course these recordings to ensure their presence in their lives.
The boys may not realize the depth of the influence my grandparents have on them, but I know it. I know I am who I am because of the blessing of having them for my grandparents. My heart’s desire through this series is to inspire you to think about those who have gone before you and to consider those who will come after you. I want to leave a heritage for my children and grandchildren that will cause them to love God, love others, and have deep rich lives.
This story is told by my grandmother. It’s funny to me. She seemed to think she needed to protect the boys’ belief in Santa Claus. They were 12 and 10 when Papa and Granny made these recordings so they were well aware of the truth of Christmas. But, for some reason, she felt it necessary to be sure they knew Papa was “pretending” to be Santa as a “helper” and that anyone in the story who didn’t believe in Santa was being “ugly.” You’ll see as you listen to it. We have laughed and cried happy tears over listening to this story again after all these years.
It was Christmas and he said, “You know what I’m a gonna do? I’m gonna be one of Santa Claus helpers this year. I’m a gonna get me a Santa Claus suit and big sack of candy and I’m going up and down this road giving the kids candy.” Well, he bought him a Santa Clause suit to pretend to be a helper, one of Santa Claus’ elves.
I put a lot of that candy down in a pillowcase and he went from house to house playin’ Santa Claus. I called ahead of time to tell everybody that had dogs to watch ’em cause they might bite him. There was a grown boy down here at Preacher Savell’s, his son, he didn’t believe in Santa Claus, he was ugly, he was ugly he didn’t believe in Santa Claus. His brother-in-law was down under a car workin’ on a car and he saw Papa comin’. Of course, Papa’s dogs give him away to anybody that realized it, they followed him ya know.
Mr. Ben DuBose said, “Hey Freeman, I thought you said there was not no Santa Claus.” He said, “There’s not.” He was bein’ ugly ya know, big ugly. And he said, “Well, lookie right there,” and Papa was a standin’ right there and Freeman throwed his hands up and said, “Iiiiiiiiiiiiii” just as loud as he could. So he learned not to be a talkin’ ugly in front of little children ya know. Cause he was grown he thought he’d be smart.
Papa had a lot of fun goin’ from house to house. I followed him in the car and picked him up and put him out whenever it was a long way to walk.
There was one, well she was handicapped, a lot of people called retarded. She was old too. She was down here at Aunt Sis’ house and he come down here. We kinda showed difference in her. He brought her an orange and an apple and a pair of girls socks. She saw him a comin’ and she got…. Didn’t she get in the door and look through the screen, Papa. Isn’t that what you said, she looked through the screen? And they had her to come out on the porch to see Santa Claus?
“Yea, that was Opal.”
It was Opal, her name was Opal. She was kinda scared at first ya know.
So he was gonna fool our grandchildren, playlike. I said, “Now, you can’t be thataway. Cause they’ll be looking for Santa Claus to come Christmas morning, ya know Christmas night, and you can’t do that twice. He said, “Oh, I’m gonna have me some more fun.” So they was all gathered in our living room waitin’ to exchange presents and I said, “Now we better kindly wait. I’m kindly expectin’ Santa Claus.” Of course now, he was just a playin’ helper.
He came in with that Santa Claus suit on and Cathy and Rhonda, well, nearly all the children got close to me. Their eyes was big ya know and he was giving out the gifts. Papa can’t read ya know so Aunt Dora was standing there calling their names off and he’d pass the gifts out. Cathy was a standin’ there with her arm around my shoulders and she looked at me and relaxed and after it was all over with and Papa left to go outside to change clothes she whispered in my ear. She says, “Granny, that’s just Papa playin’ Santa Claus, that’s not real Santa Claus.” I said, “How’d ya know?” She said, “I knew his hands.” He didn’t have no gloves to put on.
See, you can’t do anything ugly and get by with it. It’ll be told on ya don’t it. See he thought he’d be smart and make everybody think he was real Santa Claus but he wasn’t nothin’ but just a helper.
One of the many mysteries of this life is how the impact of a life is never known to the one living it. We may often feel insignificant and of no influence. When the story of our life is told, the people who are affected and the ways they are affected would surprise every one of us, for good and for bad.
How do you want the story of your life to be recorded? I know I want to leave a legacy of love, enduring encouragement, and lasting laughter.
Voices of Heritage Series