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Our Family Santa Claus!

Richard F. "Dick" Miller as Santa Claus with his nephew Bill Cass in the early 1950s

The holiday season is back and unlike last year, many families have plans of getting back together. For many of us, this will be the first time getting everyone together in almost 2 years!

These holiday events are where some of my best holiday blogs originated. This is one in particular is of my favorite blogs. It's about my uncle Dick Miller who always played the roll of Santa Claus at many of our holiday gatherings. He played the role very well.

I always considered my dad's brother, Richard F. "Dick" Miller, as not only Santa Claus but also 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. He also had quite a few stories that he was involved in himself. I always appreciated when he took the time to sit down and share some of the stories he would pass along. Some of these stories were spectacular.

Richard F. "Dick" Miller in the U.S. Navy in World War II.

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 recovered from his injuries and returned home to be with my grandparents on Christmas Eve in 1944. My uncle Dick died in 2007 and is interred at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

When I was growing up, my uncle Dick also took on the role as Santa Claus during the holiday season. He would visit nearby orphanages and spread the holiday joy to many at these facilities.

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 that Santa was, in reality, my uncle Dick behind the suit and beard. We always enjoyed going along with it especially since we knew there would be 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 particular story was also verified by my mother who continued to laugh every time she told the story.

The event 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 at 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 winter months.

Santa Miller Around 1960

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, 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. We not only remember the events from the past that our parents have passed on to us but there are moments that we also remember as kids. They may also be passed on to the next generation. These are also family stories that even to this day we talk about and still have a good laugh describing the story.

My cousin text me the other day and asked me if I remembered when our uncle dressed up as Santa Claus as passed out the gifts? Have you ever written down family events from not just the holidays but also other times throughout the year? They might have been hilarious events like what my uncle described as he walked up the back porch steps that evening before the holidays or may even be an events my cousins and I still remember through the years during the holiday season. Write down a few of them. Maybe this holiday you might find out some new holiday stories that you didn't know about yourself. This could add to your family holiday stories that you can pass on to the next generations.

Thanks to my cousin Leslie Miller, Santa Miller's daughter, for providing the pictures.

From the Ancestor Guy to all of you, Happy Holidays!

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