Every year my father went to the North Pole to help Santa. At least that is what he told me, and I believed him with the innocence of an adoring little girl. From the time I could dial the phone, I would begin calling him at 7 o’clock in the morning on Christmas Eve. During this time, telephones had those spiral cords that were so long I used them to jump rope. I would call and call and call. He never answered.
I remember the feeling of butterflies in my stomach and being full of anxiety. I lived in Cleveland, Ohio and that was quite a distance from the North Pole. It was cold in Cleveland so I imagined it was freezing cold at the North Pole. I wondered if my Dad had worn a heavy enough coat and if his glasses would freeze on his face. If they did, how would he find his way home because he could not see without his glasses? Would Santa drop him off at our chimney? What would he do with his Cadillac that turned into a snow mobile right before his journey? Would it be left in there?
I was always concerned about his visibility while traveling to the North Pole. Snow would fall for hours and cover our yards like blankets. Icicles hung from every window and glistened like crystal curtains whenever the sun hit them. This was a magical time.
I prayed that he would make a safe journey. I hoped that he would remember to give Santa my letters and to kiss Rudolph on the nose for me. My daddy would always flinch at that request. “Men do not kiss boy reindeer’s…men kiss women” he would say. My daddy put the alpha in alpha man. He was gun totting, gin drinking, billiard playing and booty pinching . He was quite the character. With Edger Allen Douglas as a name, my grandmother set him up at birth. As I got older, I would chastise him about his tendency for booty pinching and his reference to women as “sweet heart, baby and hottie”. If anything like #metoo existed in the seventies and eighties, Douglas would have been under the jail.
I loved my daddy but when I became a woman, his brand of man rubbed against my brand of woman…yet; he had raised me. Interesting. Interesting indeed.
I am proud to say, that he always made it home on time. When I woke up on Christmas morning, everything I had asked Santa for was under the tree. Barbie dolls, Easy baked ovens, play guns, train sets and teddy bears . Everything a kid could possibly want was always there. My father was an equal opportunity toy purchaser. I played with dolls and I played with guns. This level of play help to form my worldview as a young girl. I was fighting for girl equality on the playground and forty years later, I am still ringing the same bell.
After I opened my gifts, I would run to the phone and call my Daddy beaming with joy. Jumping up and down and screaming to the top of my lungs. He would share his elaborate journey of how he had to fight through tumultuous storms to get to the North Pole and back. One time he shared how the Cadillac snow mobile was trapped between the clouds and the reindeer’s had to pull him out. Each journey always more heroic than the last. I would be hanging on his every word as my mother shook her head. “You believe everything that man tells you” she would say…and I did and when he told me that I was beautiful, talented, gifted and could do ANYTHING, I believed him.
I still believe him.
When I discovered that Santa and the North Pole were not real it was of no consequence. The spirit of Santa was alive in the heart of my father. He wanted Christmas to be a very special time for me and he succeeded. I loved my daddy and this revelation made me love him more.
The Budding Professor