the best christmas tradition i've ever experienced

please don't laugh at what i'm about to tell you.  promise?

okay, here goes.

i believed in santa until sixth grade.  and i fully believed that he lived next door to my great grandma.  this guy had a full white beard and a jolly belly and was just generally awesome.  i used to tell him what i wanted for christmas while he raked his yard in the fall.

i believe i was in third grade when my grandpa and i were spending some time together and he revealed to me that he would be dressing up as santa for our extended-family christmas gathering.  he asked me to keep it a secret.  i was so excited to have such exclusive insider information.  i mean, my grandpa was going to be playing the big guy, and none of my cousins were going to know!  that's power.  so when i spilled the beans to them, i immediately felt overwhelmed with guilt that ate away at me. 

and when it came time for santa's visit, i could tell it wasn't my grandpa behind the beard.  still, thinking about it now, i feel awful for taking that year away from him.  he wanted to keep the experience magical for the younger grandkids, so he found a stand-in.

it was after that year that i realized this wasn't the first time my grandpa was going to be the guy in red.  i began to look at pictures from years past and recognized those eyes.  and then i realized my grandpa had always, amazingly, managed to be off somewhere doing something else when santa came to visit us.  he always managed to miss santa, and now i understood why.

but you know what?  the magic wasn't lost for me knowing that the real santa never came to visit us personally.  in fact, there is so much more magic in the memories that i carry of my grandpa in this role than any real santa would have ever provided. 

so here's to my santa, whom i still very much believe in and miss with all of my heart.  the magical part of you will live on in me until i'm old and gray.

this picture doesn't need editing.  it's perfect just the way it is, in all of its 1986 glory.

This entry was posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 and is filed under ,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

3 Responses to “the best christmas tradition i've ever experienced”

  1. "i used to tell him what i wanted for christmas while he raked his yard in the fall." hahaha that is great.

  2. Lauren I love this, too cute! Grandpa's have special places in all of our hearts. I love love love this picture too!

  3. ahhh, i love this story :) yay for amazing grandpas.