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Dad Up on the Rooftop

Updated: Dec 25, 2023

I shared this Christmas memory a couple of times, but I want to share it again because it’s one that I cherish. I lost Dad unexpectedly in 2009. Since that time, I’ve come to realize how many lives he touched. I wasn’t the only child he made feel special on Christmas.

Christmas was a very big deal when I was a little girl. My family celebrated with all of our extended family back then. We travelled half the state to attend at least four gatherings every year. Dad was always Santa at every party. One year, it almost came crashing down around him.

We were celebrating Christmas at my great-grandparents’ house, which was roughly two hours from our house. They had a modest two-story home with giant trees in the front yard and plenty of space for a bunch of kids to play in the snow. I don’t remember how many of us were there, but I hazard to say at least forty people were in attendance.

It was almost time for Santa’s visit, and we were all excited. We’d just finished Christmas dinner, which was amazing. (Grandma Roca was a phenomenal cook.) Dad said he was tired and needed to take a nap. He went upstairs to rest while we kids riled each other up about our visitor. We’d had a ton of candy and cookies, so we were all hyped up and bouncing off the walls.

Uncle Gary had a bur in his saddle or something that year because he was super cranky. He gathered all of us youngsters at the bottom of the stairs. He proclaimed our parents and grandparents had been lying to us our entire lives.

“I’m telling you the truth, and the truth will set you free,” he shouted.

He always did like to preach. He claimed there was no such person as Santa Claus. Uncle Gary told us that my dad was dressing up in a red suit and pretending. I, of course, argued in righteous indignation.

He informed us that Dad would be coming down the stairs to sneak out the back door and then come in the front door as Santa. He tried everything he could to convince us, but we stood firm in our conviction.

He wouldn’t let us leave from our place at the bottom of the stairs, pontificating the entire time. My mom, grandparents, aunts, and uncles tried to stop him, but Uncle Gary was on a roll. He wanted us to catch Dad and the other adults in a lie.

Why? It remains a mystery. I haven’t seen in him in well over thirty years, so I’ve never discussed that Christmas with him.

Imagine our rabble-rousing relative’s surprise when the doorbell rang. Mom answered it, and who do you think it was? It was Santa Claus, himself. He walked right over to Uncle Gary and said, “You’ve been a very naughty boy. I’ll be talking to you later.”

He turned his attention to the kids and told us how proud he was of us. He encouraged us to stand up for ourselves against any bully. He gave us each a present and an apple before telling us a story. He made sure to talk to each of us and called us by name. He left with a big smile and a “Ho, Ho, Ho.”

A few minutes later, my dad stomped down the staircase, making far more noise than normal. He told us all how he enjoyed his nap and asked if he’d missed Santa. He made a point of looking at each of our new toys and telling us how good we must have been that year.

Uncle Gary crowded him, demanding to know how he did it. Dad stared him down and told him he had no idea what he was talking about. After all, he’d been taking a nap.

Years later, after Dad had passed on from this world, I asked Mom how he saved that Christmas. She was happy to share the story with me.

Dad heard the ruckus downstairs and knew he was being set up. He wasn’t about let a bunch of little kids, including his own two daughters, have the magic of Santa Claus ripped from them at such young ages.

Determined to save Christmas, he climbed out the second story window onto the icy ledge, pulled himself onto the roof, and carefully walked across the slick shingles to the front porch where he slid down a wrought iron porch post. He did all of this while carrying a large bag full of toys and fruit.

Returning to the second story window was easier for him because he found a ladder, which one of my helpful uncles whisked away as soon as Dad was inside.

I had no idea he’d saved our Christmas at the time, but now I am in awe of the things he was willing to do to keep a bunch of kids happy. Faced with the same situation, I don’t know what I would do.

Mom asked Dad why he risked his life and limb to play Santa for us. He told her, “Well Santa could not disappoint the kids. He had to be here!”

As for Uncle Gary, he never did anything like that again. Mom told me that Dad had a chat with him, but she wasn’t there for the conversation. I’m sure it was an interesting chat.

My dad was many things in his life, but I truly believe he enjoyed being Santa Claus more than anything else he ever did.

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11 views1 comment



Nice story. I'm guessing Uncle Gary got a lump of coal in his stocking that year.

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