I’m Lea Wait, and for many years I had (among other collections) many, many Santa Clauses. Since Christmas was, and still is, my very favorite time of year, my daughters and I would start decorating on the Saturday or Sunday after Thanksgiving. The Santas would be unpacked to appear on the mantel, on table tops, and on walls.
When my family was growing up we always had two Christmas trees — one large, real, one that would go up and be decorated a day or two before Christmas, and one small tree, hung with small ornaments, that was artificial, and would go up when the Santas did.
In those days each year I hosted a large party (150-200 people) on the first Sunday in December for single adoptive parents, their children, and prospective single parents. (The first prospective single dad who arrived received the honor of being ushered upstairs to don the Santa suit I had waiting. Many years later I ran into a woman who’d been one of my young guests. She told me that for years she’d believed Santa lived at my house!) The adoptive parent party would be followed by a luncheon (yes, catered) for those in my department at AT&T, and finally, by a special
Christmas Eve party for family and close friends. (Catered by me.)
Today, instead of hosting family and extended family and friends, I spend Christmas with my husband, who, I’ll admit, is a bit of a Grinch. No, the holidays aren’t the same. Although I love being with him, I do miss the excitement and joy of past Christmases.
I’ve even divested some of the Santas, although some that are left I’ve pictured here. I also still have that small artificial tree (it actually was – 45 years ago – the top of an artificial tree I used as a prop in a Christmas safety film I produced) I first hung in my single-gal apartment in Greenwich Village. And I still hang stockings on the mantelpiece, treasure every Christmas card that comes to remind me of family and friends not in Maine, and plan special food for the holidays.
Life changes. But I still love Christmas, even toned down. I look for gifts for children and grandchildren all year, and love wrapping them up and sending them, imagining how they’ll be received. I love the special food we have Christmas morning (filet mignon and mushrooms and champagne). I love Christmas carols and sappy Christmas movies and the Christmas cards and packages that arrive at our door, reminding us of loved ones celebrating in other places.
I loved writing my latest Shadows mystery (Shadows on a Maine Christmas) because it felt as though I was celebrating with Maggie and Will and Aunt Nettie. (I even gave them my special Christmas breakfast.)
And, now that I’m a writer, I also have the joy of knowing that, through my books, I’ll be under many Christmas trees this year.