Sunday, December 19, 2021

Santa’s Spirit Revisited

christmas 1973December 1976: I must have been about thirteen years old at the time. We lived in Saranac Lake. I was in 8th grade Middle School at Petrova.

Our family attended the Methodist Church in town. My parents were members there. Much to my chagrin, we went to church regularly. My brother and I, (somewhat begrudgingly on my part), started every Sunday morning with an hour at Sunday School, all spiffed up in our Sunday best, before heading upstairs to join our parents for a whole ‘nother hour of church service. I would MUCH rather have spent Sunday mornings upstairs in my bedroom listening to Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 on my radio.

If Mom would have let me, I’d have been a very openly rebellious teenage heathen. But I wasn’t. At that point in my religious development, Mom’s wrath and Dad’s belt scared me far more than any potential wrath of God did. So, I turned off my radio every Sunday morning, put on my dress shoes, a necktie, went to church, and dutifully learned to recite The Lord’s Prayer and sing all the church songs.

Anyways, that year, my little brother’s Sunday School class party needed a Santa. I stepped up and volunteered. I told my mom:

“I’ll do it! I’ll play Santa! But I need my own Santa Suit.”

     So, my mom took me up on my offer, and made me one. I wore it that Christmas; First United Methodist Church in Saranac Lake. My first Santa gig.

santa suit

I found that I actually enjoyed playing Santa. I continued using that Santa suit quite a number of times through the years, mainly at small gatherings and family Christmas parties. I even donned the suit a few times and played Santa at home while our own children were young.

Our children are grown now.  It has been quite a number of years since I’ve played Santa. My Santa suit has been stored all that time in a tote bin, clearly labeled; “Dad’s Santa Suit” in our basement.

For some reason, a renewed Christmas spirit came upon me this year. I decided it would be fun to dig that old Santa suit out and wear it for what has long been my annual Monroe Christmas shopping trip with Mrs. Claus up to Saranac Lake and Lake Placid.  I opened the tote bin, took out the suit and tried it on.  Much to my delight, it still fit pretty good.

santa suit

So, off Mrs. Claus and I went in our sleigh. Santa’s first stop was Raquette River Brewing  in Tupper Lake, where we stopped to load our Santa bag with a case of assorted Christmas cheer and share a holiday toast with a bear.

From there we drove our sleigh on into Saranac Lake, where I met up with an old Saranac Lake High School classmate of mine, Peggy Ivimey, at the front doors of Adirondack Medical Center, to pick up some of her framed photography (Peggy Ivimey Photography). Folks might remember Peggy from our earlier collaborative effort: Serenade of The Loon.  I took off my Santa suit for that encounter, because she was on a short work break and I didn’t want to get her into trouble for having an unauthorized Santa Claus and his sleigh in the parking lot.

After that, Mrs. Claus and I drove on into town. I put back on my Santa suit, strolled down Main Street and Broadway, waving to pedestrians and passing cars naughty and nice, stopping to fil my Santa bag full of goodies at the various shops. Every time Santa entered or exited a store, he belted out a hearty;

“Merrry Christmas! HO! HO! HO!

Mrs. Claus and I had worked our way slowly down Broadway to the Post Office,

“When what to our wondering eyes should appear?”

      My Santa twin brother, jingling his bells for The Salvation Army Kettle.

Once we had finished our sleigh ride through Saranac Lake’s downtown. I took off my Santa suit. (Santa needed a break! Santa’s beard gets really itchy and that red suit gets quite hot!)  we decided to pull into Saranac Lake’s McDonald’s for a quick lunch before continuing Santa’s sleigh ride over to Lake Placid.

We walked into McDonald’s, both fully masked. My wife walked up to the counter to order. The counter person stated;

“Take out only Ma’am. Our dining area is closed.”

As a cancer survivor, I am completely tube fed. It is what it is, however, it is far easier to push meals through my g-tube when liquids are warm and flow better, and when I have a flat surface out of the wind and the weather on which to lay all of my medications and implements so they don’t fall in cold parking lot debris and dirt.

There were other patrons in line. There was staff cooking food. The restrooms were open. My wife tried to explain to the manager that I had a medical condition. He summarily dismissed us. He couldn’t have cared less or given us the time of day.

“The dining room is closed.”

We did not let that mean ol’ grinch dampen our Christmas spirit. I stood and pushed my meal through my g-tube in the McDonald’s parking lot. While out Christmas shopping in my own hometown, in December.

HO! HO! HO!

From there we drove on over to Lake Placid to finish our Christmas shopping. Once Santa’s bag was full, we went back to our sleigh, and I donned my Santa suit.

We drove down the main street. Girls and boys waved. We stopped down by the park on Mirror Lake, where someone had been thoughtful enough to set up a big red Santa chair. We got out for a few final photos. Several children were there. One small boy came up and sat next to Santa while his “Pop Pop” took pictures of his grandson with Santa.

Once all the photos were finished, Santa and Mrs. Claus headed back to their sleigh. Santa waved to all the girls and boys.  Folks could hear him exclaim as he drove out of sight:

 

“HO! HO! HO! Merry Christmas!”

santa suit

Turns out that old red suit my mom made me forty-five years ago still holds Santa’s spirit.

 

 

 

 

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Richard Monroe

Lifelong NYS resident. Raised in Saranac Lake. Cornell graduate(ROTC). Army veteran, Airborne/Ranger qualified, 10th Mtn Div, stints in Honduras and with JTF VI. 3rd degree Black Belt; 3x cancer survivor; published writer with several featured stories in Adirondack Life Magazine. Residing in Watertown NY with wife Robin & our 3 adult children. Loving Life. Living in the Day I am in. Follow my adventures at https://adirondackoutlaw.com/




7 Responses

  1. Peggy Ivimey says:

    Nice seeing you and Mrs. Claus last week! 😃 Peggy

  2. JB says:

    I hope you don’t mind me saying that you are an interesting and often quixotic fellow (in a good way). It’s always going to be interesting when we need to start referring to ourselves in third-person! As always, JB wishes you well.

  3. Terry says:

    Well written, Santa!
    God bless you and your historical spirit!!

  4. Melissa Listman says:

    Wonderful story. I needed to read this to jump start my own holiday spirit. Happiest of holidays to you and your family.

  5. Rose Anne says:

    Loving your stories! Keep them coming, please.
    Wishing you and your extended family a merry Christmas!

  6. Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

    Thank you, Rose Anne
    I’m doing my best
    Melissa’s a Grinch
    She keeps me chained to my desk
    Says I have to write every day until Christmas
    North Pole S.O.S.!
    Outlaw Santa desperately needs milk & cookies!

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