Biographical Non-Fiction posted January 10, 2022

This work has reached the exceptional level
Are we sure Santa is just a myth?

Santa Is Related To Me

by blondie560

What age were you when you discovered your parents had been lying to you about a jolly fat man in a red suit that broke into your home and left presents? I was born in the 50s and I think kids got to believe longer. Somewhere in the late 70s into the 80s, experts decided you shouldn't lie to your children about Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the tooth fairy because you'll break their trust in you and they will spend many years in therapy to overcome this mistrust. Some parents took this to heart, so by time children were starting school some smart ass kid told the whole class that Santa Claus wasn't real, and your parents were lying to you, and if they could lie about Santa, what else are they capable of lying about? Did the mother cat come back to get her kittens, or did you just take them to a farm and drop them off? Oh, sorry, that's a different story. But I can tell you for a fact that Santa is real, and I'm related to him.

Let's go back in history for some back story. I grew up northwest of Chicago. Most of the towns were still agricultural and small. It was Americana. Mom and Pop stores, playing outside till dark, never worried about trouble because everyone knew who you were, but nothing lasts forever and in the late 50s the migration of families wanting to get out of the city began. “Buy a little piece of heaven,” the ad read. A builder offered small ranch homes with a yard. For $13,000, you could buy three bedrooms and a bath. Five hundred bucks more got you a carport. The suburbs were born.

Then came the shopping center, or as it was being called a Mall. It was a bunch of stores connected with an enclosed wing that had more stores and an ice skating rink. The anchor store was Wieboldt’s, a higher end department store than say Kresge’s, or K-mart, but with an S&H Green Stamps redemption center at the back of the store. We didn't shop at Wieboldt’s; it was too expensive, but we got a lot of things with S&H Green Stamps. 

Wieboldt's had unique display cases the size of a room that were outside of the store. The displays changed with the seasons. Christmas time was magical, and they turned a display unit into a Christmas house where Santa waited for children to bring their wishes to him. The Wieboldt's Santa was the best Santa around. His suit was red velvet, his beard and mustache perfect, and he had blue eyes that twinkled.

My parents took me there on my first Christmas when I was only three months old. Three years later, my brother joined and then my sister four years after that. I was seven that year, and I was questioning the whole Santa thing. I didn't say it out loud to anyone; it was just in my mind. We didn’t have a fireplace, so how did he get into our house? How could he get around the world in one night and hold all those gifts in a sleigh? Some things just weren't adding up.

December arrived and off we went. Santa took my baby sister in his arms, and my brother and I sat on a knee. While my brother was going down his list, I looked down at Santa's wrist and watch. Something seemed so familiar about that watch and the small part of the wrist I could see. I remembered that Santa always spent a little longer with us than other kids, and he knew an awful lot about us. Now I knew why, or at least I thought I knew why. I was positive that watch belonged to my grandfather. I said nothing about it. I needed to think this through. The weird part was that I hardly saw my grandfather. While he may have looked kind and jolly, he wasn't much of a father or grandfather.

I kept my thoughts inside for the entire year. The few times I saw my grandfather that year, I paid attention to his watch and wrist. He had a small mole that was near the stem of the face. I looked closer at his face to see if there were any markings that I would be able be able to recognize even with the beard and mustache. I kept thinking back to past Christmases and realized that we would get one item we had asked Santa for before Christmas day. My aunt delivered the gifts to our house with my grandfather’s name on the tag. 

December came again, and our annual trip to see Santa was here. I was ready to figure out the Santa question. While we waited in a small line I looked in the window, staring at Santa. He looked up as the child on his lap left and winked at me. I'm on to you, Santa!  When it was our turn, Santa was ho-ho-ho-ing  extra loud as we climbed onto the platform. My two-year-old sister sat on his lap. I stood on one side, and my brother on the other side. While Santa was asking my sister what she wanted, I studied Santa. He had his head down, so I couldn't see his face close enough. He turned his attention to my brother, pulling him close with one arm and holding my sister in the other. I saw his wrist then, and there it was; the mole by the watch. Bingo! Santa was my grandfather! Or was my grandfather Santa? He looked at me and asked what I wanted. I told him a couple of things, including a girl scout uniform. I wasn't a Brownie anymore, and my parents weren’t able to afford the new scout uniform yet. If my theory was correct, maybe I could get my uniform this way. We had our picture taken, and Santa handed each of us a candy cane. I picked my sister up off his lap and carried her down the ramp. My dad stopped and said something to Santa as we left.

I had my proof now, so it was time to ask my mother about it. I waited until the other kids were in bed.

“Is Pa Santa?”

“No! Why would you think that?” She looked at me skeptically.

“I saw Santa’s watch, and it looks like Pa’s.”

 "That's silly. When have you ever seen Pa's watch?"

My next statement took her by surprise. 

“Can I have a sample of your handwriting?”

“For what?

“The packages from Santa sometimes look like you print our names. I want to compare it.”

She knew she had to come clean then. She told me I better not tell my siblings. They could believe as long as they wanted. The next week, my aunt stopped by with gifts from my grandfather. I got a complete Girl Scout uniform; the dress, necktie, belt and beret. 

It wasn't as exciting Christmas morning as in the past, but after that year my mom let me help wrap the Santa presents and it was fun watching my siblings be excited.

When I tell people this story, I find out that they too saw Santa at Wieboldt’s. It was most likely my grandfather.

Childhood Memories contest entry

This is my grandfather in 1967.
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