Santa Daddy

santa-claus-152343_640 My dad always loved to play Santa. Not the dressed up kind of Santa, but the person who passed out the presents and was in charge of Christmas. He started on Christmas Eve when all of my mom’s family got together at our house.

We would have lots of food and a huge bowl of shrimp. One year my cousin and my sister ate almost the whole bowl of shrimp themselves.  No one ever let them forget that.

Dad would always want to get to the presents and we wanted to drag out the gift giving to make it last longer. He was like an excited kid. He would announce who the present was for and who it was from.  Sometimes if we were not paying attention, he would put two fingers to his mouth and whistle. He couldn’t really whistle that way but loved doing it.

Christmas Day, Dad continued to be Santa. When we got older and slept in, he would wake us up. He couldn’t wait to get started. When I was twelve he bought me a stuffed Snoopy dog. Snoopy was my favorite PEANUTS character. I wish I still had that dog. I have bought several to replace it but they’re just not the same.  Another year, when I was in college, I saw a beautiful pink pant suit in an expensive catalog. I wanted that outfit so badly. Dad made sure I got it for Christmas.

My earliest memory of Dad making sure I got what I wanted for Christmas was when I was four years old. I wanted a train. Well, back in the day, little girls didn’t really get trains or supposedly even want them.  Things were more divided – girl toys, boy toys.  Girls were supposed to like dolls and dress up and pretend mommy things. I wanted a train. Santa daddy made sure I got it.

I loved that train and used it throughout my childhood in so many ways. Our dolls took it to school. Three laps around and they were delivered to the door. It was a runaway train that would go so fast it would come off the track. It was decorated with all the trimmings for Christmas. I still have that train.

Santa daddy was good to himself, too. One year he came home with a racetrack just for him. He was a kid at heart.

All of those times seem like another life – another time. My dad passed away at an early age. The family has scattered as most families do. I hope they still remember those special times when the earth seemed to stand still and the happiness of Christmas was in the air. And my dad was Santa daddy.

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Pet Peeves

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My mother blamed the return on my father. She said he was allergic. In hindsight, he probably was because it seems I’m allergic to everything now. Found that out later in life and maybe would have sooner if we had kept the little ball of fur.

Dad was a good father and even with his aversion to cats, he let his girls have their wish. Mom is the one who put her foot down and said the cat had to go. She wasn’t an animal person at all. That was the family’s first experience with a pet.

The next time I was allowed to have a pet was for one of my birthdays. I may have been in Junior High School, a preteen, at the time and so excited to finally have a dog in my life. We went to the Animal Protective League—a shelter for dogs and cats. I picked out a little pup that looked like a beagle and immediately named him Snoopy. I loved the Peanuts cartoon and Snoopy was my favorite.

Snoopy, the puppy, was a crier and our family wasn’t schooled in how to train a pet so there were lots of bathroom accidents in the house. I woke up one morning to find Snoopy in a large wastebasket. My mother put him there because she didn’t know what else to do. Snoopy’s days were numbered after that and I think he lasted about three days, too. He was taken back to the APL and I said a tearful good-bye.

Don’t worry; there is a happy ending to this story. I got my wish of having a pet. It finally happened when I graduated from high school. My boyfriend got me a French Poodle. He kept Pepper at his house until after my party. His mother said she’d keep him if I wasn’t allowed. That may have motivated my mother to try harder this time and Pepper made it past the three day test. In fact, my mom pretty much let him do anything he wanted and my dad indulged his every whim. He ended up being their dog more than mine. It was a good thing because Pepper kept Mom company until his final days after everyone moved out of the house and Dad passed away.

I have to think long and hard before I put pets in any of my books. I feel the dog or cat or bird (have to give a shout out to mine) has to have a reason for being in the story. I don’t want to place an animal in the story “just because”. I have dogs in my Waiting for Dusk series but they’re not front and center. They do have a reason for being there. Lindsey, just like me, longs for one but her mother is not a pet person. Everyone at the ranch in Arizona has a golden retriever and she’s jealous. Maybe one day, she’ll have one, too.

For now, I need to find a way to get a little lovebird in one of my stories. That’s not an easy thing to do. My bird is quite entertaining and loves people. She doesn’t talk but responds to us in other ways. She swings her swing on command and turns upside down to make us laugh. Don’t know how that would fit in a story. It probably would have to be a talking bird to make it work.

If I do put a bird in my story, I know the first thing I’d have it say…“I hates cats”. It makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Thanks for the saying, Dad. You were always good at coming up with the funniest, most unique sayings that I’ll never forget. But most of all I’ll remember you wearing my furry winter white hat that tied under the chin and had white pom-poms on each end to take Pepper for a walk in the dead of winter. Now that might make a good story.