Not Just A White Christmas

| Working | December 23, 2014

(It is the 1970s. I am five years old. My dad’s company throws a rather lavish Christmas party for all the employees. It is a manufacturing plant for the oil industry. The party is in one of the larger facilities they have and has a few indoor carnival rides, lots of 70s Christmas decor, and many, many families, some who are of diverse backgrounds and heritages, but who mostly are Caucasian, as are most if not all of the management. My family is Caucasian/white.)

Employee: “Hey, did you know we got a Santa Claus over here?”

Me: “Really?!”

Employee: “Sure thing!”

Me: *to my mom* “Can I go see Santa? Please?!”

Mom: “Yes, honey; you can go.”

(When I get there to line up for a toy, there is quite a surprise. There are TWO Santa Clauses; a white one and an African-American one! The African-American Santa looks about as confused as I am but seems really friendly and full of Christmas spirit. I also note that because most of the kids were white, they line up to sit on the white Santa’s lap. My logic was thus: African-American Santa looks lonely and he seems really nice, and because very few kids have lined up with him he still has a better assortment of toys left! My mind is made up. My mom hasn’t seen me for a while so she comes to look for me. To her genteel, racist horror, she sees her daughter happily sitting on ‘black Santa’s’ lap, smiling and enjoying talking to him. He is really sweet!)

Mom: “Oh… uh… Here you are.”

Me: “Hi, mom!”

Mom: “Well, come on then, honey. Time to go!”

(My mother offered a hurried thank you after I got to pick a toy (he really did have the best toys!) and ushered me away. I smiled and waved goodbye to the confused but kind man. To me, the color of his skin didn’t matter. All I saw was a nice, bored man with better toys than the other guy. To ‘black Santa,’ wherever you are, I’ll never forget how kind and sweet you were despite the rather racist overtones of the whole experience for you. I hope you had a great life!)

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