This holiday season will most likely be a lot different than what we experienced in the past as a result of the pandemic. Despite the fact that many of us may not be able to get together with our families this season, it's still a good time to remember some of those past holidays and those who made the holidays fun!
I always considered my dad's brother, Richard F. "Dick" Miller, as the family "storyteller." I've written about a few of his stories in the past. He seemed to know quite a bit about our ancestors and knew quite a few stories that I have managed to prove accurate. I always appreciated when he took the time to sit down and share some of the information he knew.
My uncle Dick also had quite a past himself. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and was wounded in the Philippines. He died in 2007 and is interred at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
While I was growing up, my uncle Dick also served as Santa Claus and during the holiday season he would visit nearby orphanages and spread the holiday joy to many in the area. We always got together with my dad's family on Christmas Day and many times Santa Claus himself would stop by to provide us with the holiday gifts. My cousins and I knew it was my uncle Dick behind the suit and beard but we enjoyed going along with it especially since we were getting a gift out of the deal!
As I got older my uncle told me a story about when he went to visit my parents after making a stop someplace as Santa Claus. This story was also verified by my mother who continued to laugh every time she told the story.
This occurred the Christmas before I was born. My parents lived on the third floor of an apartment building on the north side of Chicago. The back staircase would wind up to the various floors where there were the back doors to two apartments on each landing. There were no lights on those back staircases so it was always very dark in the evening and very hard to see especially during the Christmas holidays.
My uncle decided to stop by and say hello for a few minutes. He was still "in uniform" so to speak as he walked up the stairs to my parent's back door. He was approaching the third floor landing and heard someone taking out the garbage on that floor. Thinking it was my mother emptying the garbage into the garbage can, he decided he would get into the holiday spirit and with the deepest voice he could generate, he gave out a very loud "Ho Ho Ho!"
That was all well and good. The problem was the person taking out the garbage was not my mother but the lady next door who screamed at the top of her lungs and ran back into her apartment. The garbage in the bag she was holding ended up flying everywhere! That was not the reaction my uncle expected. He made his way to the top of the stairs and peaked around the corner only to see this lady's husband walking toward the porch. My uncle Dick described him as a big burly man at which Santa was anticipating an unexpected visit to the emergency room. Instead, the neighbor lady's husband took one look at my uncle, turned around and said, "don't worry dear it's only Santa Claus."
At this point, my mother was opening up their back door trying to figure out what all the screaming was about. Santa had also regained his composure and apparently assisted in picking up the garbage that was scattered all over the porch! My uncle decided he was never going to go up the backstairs in the evening with or without his Santa suit on.
Despite the incident on the back porch that evening, my uncle always enjoyed playing Santa Claus and all of us kids always looked forward to seeing him during the Christmas holidays! These are stories that we will always remember from the previous generation and ones we can pass on to the next generation. These are also family stories we can remember especially during this unpredictable holiday season. Write down a few of them and send them along to your family members who you might not be able to see this holiday.
Thanks to my cousin Leslie Miller, Santa Miller's daughter, for providing the pictures.
From the Ancestor Guy to all of you, Happy Holidays!