A Familiar Ho Ho Ho

Childhood memories of Christmas Eve are usually festive family dinners and piles of presents under colorful trees. My memories, however, are loud sirens and red fire trucks.

I lived in a small rural community in Ohio called Madison Township. Each Christmas Eve the volunteer fire department pulled Santa in his sleigh behind a fire truck from one side of the township to the other. Santa was escorted by a caravan of all the department’s fire trucks and volunteer firefighters’ personal vehicles with the portable flashing lights on the dashes. (I’m not sure what would have happened if there had been a fire in Madison Township on Christmas Eve.)

My dad and Uncle Kent always participated. I can remember my mom and aunt wishing they wouldn’t some years because it held up our Selby Family Christmas Eve dinner. But for us kids, it was quite a thrill. And in our community, it was a big part of Christmas Eve. Kids from one to ninety-two stood in their doorways straining their ears for the first hint of sirens, signaling Santa was near. Santa stopped in front of every house and talked to every kid. Where a sick child or an older person lived who couldn’t get out in the cold, Santa climbed out of his sleigh and made a surprise house call. And, of course, the stop at our house was always extra fun since we had some special pull with Santa. I could never really put my finger on it, but his “ho ho ho” sounded a bit familiar to me.

As we got older, all of us Selby kids were allowed to ride in the fire trucks in Santa’s caravan. Afterall, we were VIP’s of Santa! My grandma, disabled from several strokes, even rode with us one year, not too many seasons before she died. As more years passed, we moved away from that small community and the “job” was passed to others. But the Christmas Eve memories remain. They are loud and red and wonderful!

Thanks, Dad, for your love of Christmas… and your jolly laugh… which still sounds a lot like a guy in a red suit I recall from many years ago.


The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11 (NIV)

Grandma Maude Selby and Uncle Kent Selby

Grandma Maude Selby and Uncle Kent Selby

9 thoughts on “A Familiar Ho Ho Ho

  1. Dottie Hall says:

    Becky, what a great article. I even anxiously awaited Santa after my children were married. Memories still happened when he came by during Christmas Eve service this year.


  2. Here are some “Fire Truck Santa” comments I received on Facebook that I want to share…

    Sharon Kay Hall wrote, “Loved Christmas Eve in Madison Township! 🙂 Couldn’t wait to see Santa behind the fire truck!”

    Carol Chappel wrote, “Had the measles one Christmas. Had to wave to Santa out the window. Madison Township was a great place to grow up.”

    Vicki Perkins Hill wrote, “I loved it. Santa even made it out our way.” (Vicki lived pretty far out in the country.)

    Pam McGlothen Murrill wrote, “For years my dad, Mark McGlothen, played Santa for North Madison Fire Department, until he got real sick and then died. He loved playing Santa and seeing the smiles on kids’ faces.”

    Kevin Ferguson wrote, “Not only do I remember Santa coming by, but I remember the men and women who helped him.”

    Twana Larison Prater wrote, “I miss those good ole days. My dad, Melvin Larison, was a firefighter for a very long time there. He used to fry some of the fish for the Fish Fries. My father has been deceased now for 30 years. We lived on Meyers Road. Anyhow, thank you guys for mentioning those times. How wonderful it was to be young back then. I hope you all have a great enjoyable MERRY CHRISTMAS! God bless you all!”

    Kendall Cottongim wrote, “Oh my gosh, Becky. What a flashback you caused. I always loved that. Was your dad Santa? I can’t remember. And I always felt bad for whoever it was. It had to be cold back there!”


  3. Kenny Tudor says:

    My fondest memory of the Santa visiting is when I had scarlet fever at the age of five. I was not permitted to walk and my brothers carried me to the door to watch Santa come by on May Ave, in Poastown Heights. I was thrilled when he actually came to the door to see me. Santa listened to my request and delivered the Lionel train set I had circled in the Sears catalog. I was so happy to have something to play with that did not require me to walk. I often recall fond memories growing up on that street, and knowing Becky is one of those. Becky, I enjoy reading your blog. We have so many stories to tell. Have a very Merry Christmas.


  4. Michelle Wells says:

    Yes, I also grew up in Madison and went to school there from K-12 and I have very fond memories of this over my childhood days. I now have 3 children of my own and still live in Madison Township and get to enjoy these memories every year with my children now. We leave our front door open till we start to hear the sirens and we get all bundled up and go out on our front porch and wait for Santa!! It sure brightens my whole family up on Christmas Eve from my hubby and I and our children to my sister and all my nieces and nephews!! Memories I will treasure forever!! KEEP IT UP MADISON!!! 🙂


    • Michelle,

      I think it’s neat how so many of us over a forty year period have had this similar experience and have these same memories. I hope the volunteer firefighters realize how much fun they have created for so many people. Merry Christmas to you and your family!


  5. Treva Carroll says:

    I currently live in Madison Township and seeing the caravan is what makes Christmas Eve for me. Even though I don’t have any small children, I hope to have grandchildren in the future and can share it with them.



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