So I have Santa sitting on my coffee table. He wears purple and gold, but of course, has a snow globe, and plays the ECU fight song on demand, while he peers in at the ECU football stadium. Why, yes, I am aware that it's the beginning of October. Why, no, I have not fallen prey to the same influences that seem to drive the retail world as they force Christmas on us before we can get our pumpkins carved. Santa is a birthday present. Or he was a birthday present - in July of 2008 - and it took Santa seven years to find my chimney. Actually he was home briefly, so maybe it should be classified as a detour.
In July of 2008 I was given Santa as a birthday present. But Daddy had dementia. So Daddy decided that I had stolen Santa. He couldn't stop complaining to Momma that I had "pulled a fast one" and taken his Santa. The solution - I returned Santa to Daddy with my apologies for being "confused". Santa sat on a table at my parents back door until last month when Momma looked at Santa, and said, "Why don't you take that damn Santa home? You know he's yours." So I loaded Santa back into my car for a return trip to his rightful home. But it's not Christmas yet so I stuck Santa into the closet with the other decorations.
However Santa wasn't happy apparently. See ECU was playing Virginia Tech and early on it looked like a blow out. So I decided that Santa should come on up and watch with me. Next thing I knew we had pulled out an unexpected victory AND I had spotted my goddaughter in the crowd. My solution - I told Rick that Santa stays out until further notice. His response - whatever makes me happy - proof he doesn't have dementia.
Last weekend our college freshman went to his first game as a college student. If you've got to pick a game to be your first one as part of the student body, then by all means pick the one where your school is nationally ranked playing another nationally ranked team on national TV in a pouring rain. Spend your morning tracking down a couple of ponchos and texting your football crazy momma who has lots of advice. Especially when NONE of that advice involves staying home. HAVE A GREAT TIME!! Layer, use trash bags if necessary, did I mention layers? Put your paper printout ticket in a Ziploc bag. Leave your phone in the dorm since it ain't water proof. Just a few examples of my wisdom.
My wisdom was well earned at a life time of going to games in all sorts of weather. One of my favorite memories of an ECU game came in September of 2000, well before Daddy became the man who thought I had stolen from him. It rained the entire time as just Daddy and I sat through the ECU/Syracuse game. We won, but I'm not sure if that makes the memory sweeter (silly, of course it does). I sat there with Daddy, getting soaked, cheering on our Pirates. I love, love, love that my first born went to his game, cheered on his team, and had a blast. Not as crazy over his statement that the clothes are "ruined 'cause I hit some mud on the way to the field, and I threw them over there in a corner." Apparently the laundry life lesson did not take as well as the support your team lesson did. But, life should be about making memories. It goes by too fast to spend no time in the rain.
Santa reminds me that kindnesses aren't always done in expected ways. I never corrected Daddy. I never complained over Santa, though I did make a joke to Rick that I had the distinction of giving instead of receiving a birthday gift for my own birthday. My brothers were well aware of the story of Santa. They heard Daddy, and they knew he would be mine - eventually.
The day after I brought Santa home was the two year anniversary of my father-in-law's death. The past two years have brought much heartache, many transitions, a lot of shifting of material goods, and so very much growth in lessons learned. Three years ago, Santa would never have peeked out in September. I would have been a bit embarrassed over the story. Now, I leave him out. I didn't expect him to help win a game, and truly our rushing QB did that for us. I just wanted to look at him, and reflect. I like seeing him. He'll get put back up eventually. I have too many Martha Stewart pretensions to leave him out year round. But for now - Happy Santa Merry Birthday to me. Oh, and GO PIRATES, GO TIGERS, (please, dear God, may Tennessee win).