...I was three when we left Brooklyn and all of our extended families and moved across the country. We had a car, our clothes and a small (tiny) u-haul trailer with our meager possessions. In my arms was a girls best friend, her teddy bear, and in a box...Santa.
Poor Teddy was lost or left-behind in a hotel in El Paso, Que the quirky country song. Something that broke my little three year old heart. But, Santa survived. He survived another eleven moves, and when my parents were still alive, he was the only thing us four children wanted in the will. He has since spent the last ten years traveling from each of our houses to the next and spending the holidays with all of us.
By the third Christmas that my parents had spent together, they were living in a new house with a brand new baby boy, born seven weeks premature. There were mortgages to pay, hospitals to pay, and Christmas on it's way. So my dad worked two part-time temporary jobs in addition to his regular job.
One of those jobs was at Milton-Bradley and, I was always sad when I heard that story because I thought if we had not moved from NY, I could have had every game and toy that they had ever made!
The other job was at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. He would set up and break down banquet rooms for company Christmas parties. At one such party they had these Santa's as the table centerpiece. After the party was over and the tables broken down to be readied for the next party my dad found this last and lonely Santa. All the others had been taken home by party guests. My dad's boss, knowing he had a baby at home, offered it to him. At first pop refused but as he walked out to the car he had second thoughts and went back for him. He has been a treasured part of our family ever since.
He's aged a little over the years but is really no worse for wear. I'm afraid now that if I tried to clean his beard that it would just fall out, or shrink, so I just let it be. He is carefully unpacked every year for a short few weeks and then lovingly repacked until the next year, or the next move. He carries with him all the wonderful memories of our Christmas past and as we move forward to our Christmas future I know he will always be safe and carry our special childhood secrets.
Long ago and oh so far away...