Every Christmas I anticipate the fun of adding a few new ornaments or decorations to our house but the pleasure doen'st come close to the joy of putting up the old favorites, most of them lovingly made by a family member no longer with us. This jolly old elf was purchased for my older brother’s first Christmas. As the family grew up, he watched over us each Christmas Eve when we hung our stockings. His face was hand painted with rosy cheeks, merry blue eyes and real white hair and beard, topped off with a velvet hat. A black patent belt surrounded his uncommonly trim middle. In the back of Santa’s suit was a gold key that, when turned, played “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
This Santa was present for every Christmas. His quiet presence is documented in over a hundred Christmas photos. My mother saw to it that Santa was carted along to the cousins when it was our turn to go to their house for the Christmas holidays. Even when my brother and I out grew stockings, Santa still proudly took his spot on the hearth.
When my daughter was born, my mother thought it was time to pass Santa on to the next generation. Naturally, after thirty some years of Christmas wear and tear, he badly needed a new suit. My mother didn’t really know how to sew. Buttons, slight tears or hems were the extent of her seamstress abilities but that didn’t daunt her enthusiasm to refurbish Santa for her long awaited grandchild.
Conferring with several of her friends who did sew, she carefully took Santa’s suit apart and traced a pattern of each piece. The entire process took a few months but by our daughter’s first Christmas Eve, Santa was decked out in an immaculate new red velvet suit. Yes, the seams might have been a bit irregular and one pants leg was almost an inch shorter than the other, but Santa was back and good to go for another thirty years. And those tiny little rust colored spots on the faux fur are a testament to my mother’s dogged devotion, and numerous finger pricks, that add to the jolly old elf’s Christmas history.