When I was 4 years old, my parents decided to move from Genesee, Idaho to Spokane, Wash. When we left Genesee, there were well under 700 people, a true farming community with a bank, a restaurant, a variety store, a couple of taverns… you get the idea.
As I look back, my Mom and Dad were looking to improve our lives. Even though Dad had a job in Genesee, he was looking to better our lives. When we got to Spokane, a harsh reality set in, jobs were very scarce, it was late November, snow was on the ground… and we did not have much money. In fact my Dad would walk (sometime miles) to apply for a job, to save bus money.
As we moved toward Christmas, Dad found a job and the holiday began to seem more meaningful. In fact my Uncle Dave and his wife came to spend Christmas with us. Life was good (better). We had a very small remodeled apartment and figured out how we could all fit in.
For a 4-year-old at Christmas, I was fully engaged with Santa Claus, jingle bells, decorating the tree, telling Santa what I would like to find under the Christmas tree, singing carols with my Mother, etc., etc. I suppose much the same as any 4-year-old getting “in the spirit.”
Now, I need to confess my uncle and father were great tricksters. In fact, my Dad loved to tease. Having a trickster and teaser in the family certainly caused mischief and certain tension points in the Earling household. But I do treasure the fun we always had.
So Christmas Eve was always a “big deal” with our family. The excitement of knowing there were presents under the tree, a traditional turkey dinner, and most of all Santa Claus would be by to bring more presents. And add to that, my aunt and uncle were there for the festivities.
At the dinner table, my dad and uncle speculated that because Santa had to cover so much territory, he might even come by before we went to bed. After dinner, my uncle invited me to come with him to the bathroom to watch him shave. (I guess that intrigued me).
All of a sudden I heard a commotion coming from down the hall, somebody hollering “Ho, Ho, Ho” and then my parents yelling “David, David, Santa is here”! I tore open the door and ran down the hall, to find the living room window wide open, with my Dad hanging out the window (we didn’t have a fireplace) waving at Santa, reindeer and sleigh! By the time I got there and looked out the window, I just missed Santa.
And there were of course new presents which Santa had left behind! It must be true, there is a Santa Clause and I just missed him! Talk about a real life Santa experience and with that image in mind and my Dad making it even more real, it is a treasured memory I still hold today which adds richness and meaning to every Christmas for me. I will always hold that visual. Yes my dad was a trickster, but he added great meaning to every Christmas and my life.
As this holiday season draws upon us, I hope that all of you find meaning in this special time of year and that you experience some holiday magic of your own!
— By Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling