I don’t usually tell Saturday Stories about my in-laws. There are still so many stories from my own side to record, but this season begs for a tale about my father-in-law.
My father-in-law was the type of person who considered all people his friends. He would talk to anyone, he would share with anyone, he would help anyone. For many years through the 1980s and 90s, he’d borrow a Santa suit and arrange with a few families to visit their homes. Sometimes, he’d be handed a few presents on the sly to give to the children. Other times, he’d just show up with a bag full of candy canes or little oranges. It gave him a lot of joy to see the surprise on the children’s faces when he’d show up at their very own homes to see if they’d been good.
My husband got to drive “Santa” around. You’d not believe how unweildy a Santa suit can be. There was no way he would have been able to drive himself. The Good Guy helped with presents or figuring out which door to enter or setting up cameras if the parents had arranged for that, too.
One year, on the way to a prearranged destination, they passed a house that was obviously holding a large family Christmas party. After they finished with their visit, my father-in-law made the Good Guy stop at the party they had passed. He ran up to the front door and banged loudly on the door. Imagine the surprise when the owner of the house opened the door to find Santa Claus on the porch. All of the children near the door started shouting, “Santa! Santa! Santa is here!!!” What could the parents do? In barged my father-in-law with candy canes for all. He sat down in a chair and the children formed a line (that seems to be an automatic response in kids). The grown ups in the house cautiously reached for their cameras while keeping an eye on this stranger who had invaded their party. After all of the kids had had a chance to talk to Santa, my father-in-law got up and left as mysteriously as he’d arrived.
After that, Santa started crashing one party every year. He got a huge kick out of the looks on both the surprised parents and the thrilled children. No one ever turned him away. After our children had joined our family, we’d try to visit on the nights of his adventures. For a few years, they were thrilled that Santa knew where Grandma and Grandpa lived. Sadly, my father-in-law passed away before all of my children were old enough to remember those visits. That is part of the reason I am recording these stories.