Santa in Residence

Dec 24, 2013 | 1 comment

Charlie, 1974

Charlie, 1974

My son was sixteen when my mother and father retired to Oysterville in 1972.  For the next six years he and I would drive up from California for Christmas.  We would pack up the Volkswagen beetle and leave the day after school was out.  Sometimes my step-daughter Marta came with us; sometimes we brought along a friend.  Some years the trek involved horrible stormy weather or white-out conditions over the Siskiyous but, no matter what, Christmas in Oysterville was worth it.

By the time I moved north in 1978, Charlie was living and working in L.A.  He would fly up to Portland where he would rent a car for the last leg of the journey, arriving in Oysterville on the 22nd or 23rd, suitcases laden with as yet unwrapped Christmas gifts – unusual gifts, unexpected gifts, often expensive gifts.  (It’s a heady thing to be making good money at your first-ever full-time employment, especially if you are single and without obligations.)

Gift Tag

Gift Tag, 2011

He also brought with him designer wrapping paper, the ribbon for fashioning elaborate bows, and gorgeous gift cards which he made out with cryptic hints about package contents.  I have saved many of them over the years…  All the preparations were made in the wee hours of the night, often being completed just as the rest of us were gathering in front of the Christmas tree to open gifts.  My folks always referred to him during those December visits as “Our Very Own Santa Claus.”

One year his big surprise gift to my mom was a new set of stainless steel flatware, service for twelve.  It was heavy, so he packed it in his carry-on duffle so as not to pay for the extra weight.  Even though it was years before 9/11 and the stringent airport security we know today, the checkers made him unwrap every single item (each knife, fork, spoon, etc. came separately wrapped in tissue secured with scotch tape).  He very nearly missed his plane.   That was the last year he ever flew up at Christmas.

Charlie at Bailey's

Charlie at Bailey’s, 2013

Now he drives – nineteen hours straight through from his door in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles to our door in downtown Oysterville.  He stops for a meal, for gas, and maybe for coffee.  I hold my breath for all nineteen hours…  Although we’ve all scaled way back in the gift-giving arena, Charlie still brings his presents unwrapped and I hear him in the wee hours walking around overhead – the prancing and dancing of two biggish feet – as he readies our Christmas surprises.

Last night was no different.  I woke briefly at 3:00 a.m. and smiled to myself as I heard a the squeaking floorboards above me.  Santa is in residence and all is well with my world!

1 Comment

  1. Cate Gable

    Sydney: I’m so sorry I won’t get to meet Charlie this year. But I loved this look into his personality and your family Christmas. Mele kalikimaka! Cate


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