ho ho hoWe heard some fire trucks this afternoon. They started off distant and muted. Moments later the sirens and horns were loud and crisp. Somewhere nearby was a raging fire and our town’s bravest were on their way to battle the blaze.

Luckily that wasn’t the case at all. Rather, THE Santa was nice enough to visit all the boys and girls a few weeks early by rolling through our neighborhood on our shiny red hook-and-ladder. Our Fire Chief did the initial pass letting everyone know – via his very loud PA system – that Santa was near. Down the block I could see the long, shiny red truck coming my way with a Fire Fighter on one corner of the front bumper and the “Bowl Full of Jelly” himself on the other.

Living in a largely older community, not many of our neighbors were outside. I, however, ran back inside to let Kate and Erin know that Santa was coming. Just as Kate and Erin joined me outside, the firetruck came into view. We expected Santa to simply wave and give some audible “Ho Ho Hos” (as was his custom in my boyhood neighborhood) and we were waving back. Suddenly, the truck stopped in front of our house. Both Santa and the fireman hopped off the front bumper and began to walk toward us! We didn’t know what was happening… it was all so exciting! What would Santa say to us? Did he know it was Erin’s first Christmas?

As the two men walked towards us, Kate chirped a quick “Hey Santa!”
“Merry Christmas.” The jolly old man said in return.

Erin couldn’t believe her big hazel eyes. She gave him a big toothless smile and then buried her head in her mamma’s’ hair, embarrassed that Santa actually knew where she lived. As they approached us, I noticed the fireman was holding a box full of small gifts. Santa reached into the box and chose a special gift just for Erin. It was a small, old-fashioned-styled doll with a ceramic, hand-painted face. He then reached back into the box and took out a small candy cane – which he presented to Kate with a wink.

We said our “Thank Yous” and “Merry Christmas'” and then Santa and his firemen friends continued their tour to visit the other girls and boys. As we went back inside, Erin was holding her new doll and getting very excited about it – kicking her feet and smiling. Santa was so kind and generous to visit Erin so early.

But Erin’s early Christmas experience was not yet over. The three of us piled into the car and headed out to our local nursery (the plant kind) and picked out the bestest Christmas tree we could find. A beautiful Douglas Fir. As I was taking it off the roof our of car, a neighbor walked by and kindly said “You’re doing a good job, Pops.” Tonight, we will decorate our tree as a family and Erin will be all set to enjoy her first Christmas in style. Her tiny red stocking is already hanging in between our large stockings over the fireplace.

It’s such a joy to repeat the traditions that Kate and I both grew up with and to also develop new traditions that she will remember her entire life. The Christmas traditions we begin now will be her Christmas memories forever.

Side note: I accidentally left our camera at the in-laws last night and so we had no camera to capture Santa’s visit. The photo above was googled.