My folks kept telling me about Santa Claus. I was just a small kid, and I had never heard of him but he sounded like the kind of man I would like. They said he brought good kids candy, fruit, nuts, and toys. That got my attention real quick. They said he would visit Grandpa’s in just a few days, and we might go out there to see him. I was ready to go.
Grandpa’s farm was way out in the country, through seven other farm’s gates on dirt roads. A trip to Grandpa and Grandma’s farm was always exciting, but a chance to meet this Santa sounded great. I knew Grandma’s table would be loaded with all kinds of things little kids liked. Sure enough when we arrived I could smell fried chicken, biscuits, and gravy. I could imagine the sweet potato pie in the oven, and I knew she had her famous sugar cookies in the top shelf of her cupboard.
“Merry Christmas,” Grandpa shouted when we arrived. “I haven’t seen Santa Clause yet. Come in and have some dinner.” I ran to Grandpa, dressed in his usual striped overalls, with a can of Prince Albert pipe tobacco peeking from a bib pocket, and he scooped me up.
The house was all decorated nice and homey. Grandpa had cut a cedar tree and Grandma decorated it with colored paper strips and looped ropes. Right on the top she had fashioned a cardboard star and covered it with shiny tin foil. Grandpa bought a box of multi colored candles that fit into clamp-on-holders for the tree. I could hardly wait for him to light the tree. At dinner I wasn’t interested much in eating. I kept my nose to the windows watching for this man called Santa Clause.
It got dark and he hadn’t arrived yet. The phone rang, and Grandpa answered it. “Mr. Rogers has a cow down and needs my help,” Grandpa announced. “I will be back as soon as I can.” I kept my eye on the windows, watching for our expected guest.
Soon I heard heavy footsteps on the porch, with a loud Ho, Ho, Ho. “That must be Santa Clause now,” my Dad said. The door swung open and in came a man with a red cap trimmed in white, wearing striped overalls. He had a funny looking beard and smelled like pipe tobacco. He carried a burlap sack that bulged with something. “Is there a fine young man here named Hollis,” he asked. I peeked from behind Mom’s skirt. “Well now, let’s see what I have for you,” “Ah. He exclaimed. Here is a sack of oranges. And another with nuts in it. And look here! Here is a sack of candy. Do you think you could use these?” Santa asked.
Could I use them? You bet I could find a use for all that stuff. Then he dug deeper into that sack and came out with a cap pistol with a package of caps to shoot bad guys with. Wow. That was all I could think of to say. He wheeled around and left quickly with a hearty Ho! Ho! Ho!
Grandpa came back soon from helping Mr. Rogers. “I am sorry to have missed seeing Santa Clause,” he said. I had a feeling who Santa Clause was…all dressed up in striped overalls and smelling of pipe tobacco.
And until this day, I still think of Santa in striped overalls, a red can of Prince Albert tobacco in his bib pocket, and a funny looking fake beard.