Believe it or not, back in the day, I was a skeptical child.
I especially was skeptical of men. This is a good thing, since I have been reading the papers lately and it seems that most of them cannot be trusted!
But I was pretty sure at a young age, that the old guy with the gleaming eye and long white beard was a special kind of scary and he needed to quit trying to coax me onto his lap!
Besides, wasn’t it his suit that landed in Grandma Hanson’s dry cleaners shop every year in the small town of Bucklin, Kansas?
Why couldn’t Mrs. Claus or one of the elves deal with the laundry?
No doubt, he was a phony and the sort of person that good parents would warn you about.
So, why, I wondered, was he strategically placed as the star of the show in the downtown parade?
Maybe his twinkling eyes hypnotized the city council into letting him have the largest float and all the candy?
I knew he would be there but I was busy preparing for my own debut as Betsy Ross, marching alongside my brother, Kyle, who would play, Uncle Sam.
My mother toiled and slaved for weeks (well, maybe a day or two) over our costumes and proudly distributed us at the appointed starting place when the day of the parade finally arrived.
It would have been impossible to miss the jolly old guy in the red suit, who just happened to be placed on a float directly behind us.
I knew the other kids would all be mesmerized by him but I wasn’t giving him the least bit of mind since I had an important role to play myself.
Maybe, when the kids saw my brother and I, they would forget all about the weird guy behind us and stand in awe and wonder at the two patriots carrying the flag and marching to the rhythm of the band.
And march we did, for what seemed like miles…and….miles and more miles.
It didn’t take long before Uncle Sam was strutting his much longer legs in wider steps, leaving poor Betsy Ross wailing at the top of her lungs as she hurriedly tried to keep up. (To this day, I am pretty sure that my fast paced walking is a direct result of the PTSD I suffered from this very incident!)
As if the unfolding nightmare of being left behind in the parade wasn’t bad enough, the massive float behind me was gaining ground and I just knew that Santa and his sleigh were going to run me over!
There was no question that he had it in for me!
I was the only child on the planet who didn’t like him and now he would get his revenge!
I would be pranced on by all of those reindeer as he would yell out, “you naughty girl you!”
But surprise of all surprises, he did not!
As I stood there in the middle of the street sobbing like there was no tomorrow, Santa stopped his float and asked me to climb aboard to help him hand out candy!
The moment of decision had come and it wasn’t too hard to figure out which choice I should make.
I could either die of a reindeer/float/Santa stampede, or ride in the sleigh and munch on candy while I tossed a few to the very envious kids lining the streets with visions of sugar plums (or more likely, candy canes)j dancing in their heads!
So, up I climbed and Santa placed me strategically beside him and changed from villain to hero in a New York minute!
I was smitten and from then on, we became fast friends.
Santa saved the parade (or at least my life!) and I got to ride on the biggest float that day!
Betsy Ross sure would have been proud!
As far as Uncle Sam goes, he marched on, finished the parade and I still don’t hear near as much about him as I do Santa Claus!
Unless of course, it is tax season and well, we will save that story for another day! 😉