Christmas Eve with Dad

For the few days left before Christmas, I’m going to repost several of my favorites about childhood Christmas’ with my family.  This one is perhaps my favorite memory of my Dad.

When I search the dusty back shelves of my memories under Childhood with Dad, Christmas Eve is the fondest.   I don’t remember exactly how old I was when I started going out with Dad on Christmas Eve to pick up presents from our other relatives in the area, but I know it was after I stopped believing in Santa Claus.   My mother used to say that I believed in Santa Claus for so long that she was embarrassed to take me to Malley’s Department Store to see him, so I was probably older than you’d think.  We’d set off into the winter night after my brother and sister had gone to bed, just me and Dad in the turquoise and white Buick Special.    He probably smelled of Aqua Velva and Half and Half pipe tobacco but what I remember are the crunch of the tires on frozen roads and Christmas lights reflected in the snow.

There were four stops to make but my favorites were the homes of my mother’s brothers, Jim and Richard.   By the time we’d get there,  the cousins would be in bed and it was just me and the grown-ups, sitting around the table, me with a cocoa or a cider and the men with highballs, as they talked about grown-up stuff like politics, news and family as if I were one of them.    One time, Uncle Jim said to me while my father was in the other room, “Your father doesn’t say much but when he does, he really knows what he’s talking about.”    It was a good thing for a boy to hear about his father from his favorite uncle.    Then we’d load their presents in the car and head on to the next house.    I was Santa’s helper.    I was The Man, or at least had him to myself.

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