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)