Santa and His Reindeer

When I was a young boy, one of the chores I looked forward to every year was to go over to my grandparents’ house and help them with their Christmas decorations. My grandparents, especially my grandfather, were like a little kid when it came to Christmas.

His goal was to have the best and most decorated house in the neighborhood. It was not that he had a lot of decorations, it was the meaning he put into the decorations. His decorations started to get a little out of hand and grandma would have to reel him back in.

Grandpa was responsible for decorating the outside of the house while grandma tackled the interior. The perimeter of the house was decorated with colorful lights making it very festive.

IMG_0373The most important part though was the decorations on top of the roof. My grandfather had purchased a plastic Santa Claus with a light bulb inside that would illuminate Santa. He also had a plastic sleigh with two elves riding inside.

In front of the sleigh was three plastic reindeer that stood in single file connected by a plastic ribbon rein. The front most reindeer was of course Rudolph and had a red light bulb for a nose. The Christmas season was officially underway when grandpa set up his decorations.

As a young child I was responsible for helping grandpa retrieve all of the decorations and checking all of the parts to make sure they were working. As I got older I graduated to actually helping carry the decorations to the roof.

As my grandparents got older, it became harder and harder for them to put up the decorations. Rather than see this tradition subside, I would go over every weekend after Thanksgiving and dutifully put up the decorations and especially Santa and the reindeer.

After my grandmother passed away I still went over and helped grandpa and made sure that his Christmas decoration tradition lived on. Finally one year after Christmas as I was taking down the decorations grandpa took me aside and told me that would be the last year for his decorations.

It was sad to think this was the last time these decorations would adorn his house. Rather than let the tradition die though, grandpa gave me all of his decorations and asked if I would please continue to put them up and to remember all of the times we spent together.

Since that day I have been the keeper of the Christmas decorations. The plastic Santa has been cracked and mended, the sleigh and the reindeer too have been repaired more times than I care to remember.

But each year the box is removed from the garage and each season Santa and his reindeer are placed upon the roof of the house signifying the beginning of another Christmas season.

Now my children are there to help me as we remove each piece and check for wear and tear making whatever fixes are necessary. We gingerly place each piece on the roof and stand at the edge of the driveway and watch as the decorations come to life.

The decorations have withstood a lot of years of use and are old and fragile. In a sense so am I. It’s not as easy as it once was to hoist them onto the roof and at some point I like my grandfather will finally decide that the years and the labor are just too much.

Hopefully my children and perhaps even my grandchildren will remember the times they helped putting Santa and his reindeer out on the roof. Then they will remember the care and the love they had making an old man happy and perhaps bringing joy to a passerby.

It is not about having the biggest Christmas display or the largest number of lights. It is about having decorations and traditions that have meaning and bring joy to those around you.

So as I light Santa there on the garage roof I fondly remember my grandfather and all the years that he brought joy and laughter to those who passed by his house with just a simple display and a lot of love.


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