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Man Trouble

Have you heard the expression, “Unlucky in love?” That would be me, my ancestors, and my children. We have a history of “issues” with our favorite guy:  Santa Claus. 


The curse began with my mother, born in 1909 in southern Indiana. The Schofields and their dear next-door neighbors, the Easts, opened their gifts on Christmas Eve, and the men of the two households took turns playing Santa. On the Christmas Eve it was my Grandfather Schofield’s turn to don the suit, he would suddenly remember an urgent errand that absolutely wouldn’t wait. My mother said she’d cry and beg him not to go because he’d miss Santa, but her father was unmoved by her pleas. Next scene:  Santa arrived bellowing “Ho, ho, ho,” and passing out gifts. Then, catastrophe. Santa’s beard got a little too close to one of the REAL candles on the Christmas tree and he suddenly had a brush fire, so to speak, on his face. The other adults surrounded him and smothered the flames while keeping his identity secret. Mother noticed her dad’s face was a bit red when he returned home, but never figured it out. 


My only trip to see Santa was a truly humiliating experience. My mother and I were taking my 4-year-old nephew to visit Santa at the local hardware store. Somehow, I ended up in a portrait with Mikey on Santa’s right knee and me on his left, wearing a nervous, embarressed grin, afraid one of my school friends might see me. I think I threw it out, too horrified, even today, to keep it. I know I certainly wasn’t asking for candy, nuts and oranges, the usual list-ender of the day.


Now for the younger generation. Over 40 years ago, my husband and I waited in line one solid hour for our five-year-old to see “the perfect Santa” at the local shopping center. As the line inched forward, I detected a bit of anxiety in our tyke. When it was finally our turn, she took one look at that man in the scary get-up, and ran screaming from the line. We never took the kid to visit Santa again.


Whether Very Old School, Old School or Not-So-Old School, we don’t have a good track record with the man in the red suit.   

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