Monday, December 9, 2013


It was the best Christmas I ever had. To wit...

It was the Christmas of 1964, a year after the Kennedy assassination. I was spinning the heavy hits in Spokane, Washington; a disc jockey at a local radio station. It featured we announcers playing records while sitting in a control booth in front of a large picture window. We were visible for all passerby's to see and wave to, and, of course, make a few funny faces at the Jocks as well. Well, there was this one kid...

Anyway, it was a cold week and it had begun to lightly snow. I asked the program director that if he would spend the money for a Santa costume, I would dress up and invite the neighborhood children to drop by for some candy. He agreed; a nifty promotional gag, he must have thought and the stage was set.

However, the night before, being Christmas Eve, I decided to put the apparel to a test by going out into the snowy community with a bag of candy and commence to knock on as many doors as I could. I dressed myself to resemble St. Nick, to the best of my ability, then hit the road.

I figured correctly that most folks would be home beginning their celebration, hence little traffic. I assumed the 'old man shuffle' while slinging the large bag of candy over my shoulder and, would on occasion, loudly utter the cherished laugh, 'ho ho ho', in the best impersonation I could muster, as I trugged down the middle of the lantern-lit streets.

Soft snowflakes were falling through the tall pine trees that laced the sidewalks. I felt like a picture in a Hallmark Christmas card. It was an extraordinary sight. Even I couldn't fathom what this night was turning out to be. I actually believed it was like the real thing. I felt blessed.

It was also unbelievable when I knocked on the first door. I was greeted like I've never been greeted before. I had to meet the sleepy kids, drink milk and eat the homemade cookies and, of course, take pictures, all the while keeping in character of dear old Santa in attitude, voice and in spirit.

As I remember, I must have been invited into at least a hundred homes, all with the same results. I believe to this day that faded Polaroid's are still being shown to the siblings and the sibling's siblings, their kids and all the grandkids, including every kinsfolk, at each and every Christmas; thus proving to the nay-sayers that the beloved Man was real!

During those eight hours, or so, I never broke character, even when the many adults kept asking who was I, really?, Uncle Fred?, or whomever they thought might try to pull off a stunt like this. But I never confessed I was the local DJ; the guy they passed by each and every day. Plus the kid that loved to 'moon' us.

To show what a community was like in those days, as I went from house to house, the one I just left would call their friendly neighbors and alert them that Santa was in town, 'wake the kids'! It turned into a grand party.

The surprised children never questioned my role and accepted me for what I was; a pillow-stuffed 'old' Santa that was there merely to discover the best way to deliver their gifts. It was the innocence of times, not counting, of course, the passing of our president in the year before that had begun the country on a collective downslide.

Anyway, the children had great fun feeding me their home-baked treasures through my fake beard that luckily never came off. I must've gained a few extra pounds during this journey. I could've thrown away the pillow and gone au`natural, but it wouldn't have been the same.

It truly was the best Christmas I ever had and one I'll never forget..a mental Christmas card firmly stuck in my mind of the evening I pretended to be old Santa.

Ho ho ho!..