Christmas reminds me of my grandpa, everyone that knew him loved him. But he was a matter-of-fact kinda guy—if he wasn't interested in what I was doing he certainly didn't pretend to be. And because he was a farmer, I never found it out of the ordinary if he asked me how much rain we got last night, before he asked how kindergarten was going.
Grandma was different, she was interested in hearing about the boys in class. She would play pickup sticks and paper dolls with us and even built a dollhouse for us to play with when we came over. Best of all, we would watch I Love Lucy on the dial TV all afternoon eating as many malted milk balls as we wanted.
But this time of year reminds me of one particular weekend with my grandparents. Grandma had promised that Grandpa would take us to the mall to see Santa Claus! I had hurried to get my Christmas dress on and didn't even bother to brush my hair before pushing my sister Meredith to the kitchen to announce that we were ready to go. I wanted to get my Christmas order in!
With a little help, we climbed in and sat three across the car. We turned out onto the highway and only drove about a mile before Grandpa says, "Well I'll be darned. We don't have to go all the way to town, Santa came to us!" Oh no...I am horrified as I look out the window to see a scraggly skinny dude sitting on a lawn chair in a red suit. "That is NOT Santa" I announced.
"Sure it is! " Grandpa says, "C'mon Meredith let's go sit on his lap" as he lifts her from the seat. I open the door and climb down protesting how Grandma said we were going to the mall. "It's where the REAL Santa will be and we can get our picture taken and..." Grandpa cut me off, "Listen, Megan, I have a camera right here under the seat, I can take your picture!" I remember how smug Grandpa looked as he plopped Meredith on the creeps lap, I mean...what kinda dude pretends to be Santa anyway?! I walked up to him and snapped the elastic beard from his face as he handed me a candy cane. I did manage a grin before murmuring how mad Grandma would be over this.
On the ride home I remember having a conversation about how Santa gains a lot of weight between Thanksgiving and Christmas each year...and that I would believe him when Santa still brought me the gifts I asked for at Christmas. But I was confused, if there was a chance Grandpa was right, I was too busy inspecting his outfit that—I didn't tell Santa that I wanted anything at all!!
Grandma and mom were both surprised to see us home so quickly! "I'm pretty sure he took us to see a FAKE SANTA", I glared at my Grandpa. Finally, the reaction I had been hoping for "Jeepers Marwood, where the heck...?!" Grandpa looked proud as he announced "No lines! We were on our way to the mall, and Santa happened to be sitting in someone's front yard!"
The situation became very clear to me when I saw my mom's reaction to this photo a few weeks later.