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Mack Williams: Christmas in June

Mack Williams

Not quite Christmas in July, but when you read this , July will be only a week away.
Here in Danville, we have a Mr. and Mrs. Claus who are quite a local institution.
Of course, Santa is an institution most everywhere! In some countries, Mrs. Claus isn’t mentioned, but she’s given no short shrift in the United States, especially in Danville where you can encounter both at the grocery store, drugstore, Golden Corral, etc.
This Santa’s wavy beard and wavy hair upon his head are real, both matching. In my case, I’m afraid my brown moustache in contrast with my white hair gives me a resemblance to some of those guys featured in a certain deck of cards popular during Operation Iraqi Freedom (namely, the late Tariq Aziz).
Around Christmas, they wear the “traditional” clothes. During the warmer months, a red plaid short-sleeved shirt and jeans for Mr. Claus and a red blouse and white skirt for Mrs. Claus suffice. Throughout the year, at Food Lion, restaurants, etc. I have encountered this “seasonal” couple. Since, here in Danville, we see them not just seasonally, but throughout the year, they could be called “a couple for all seasons.”
And here, there is no wondering about what Santa does the rest of the year. We in Danville know!
They have become some of Danville’s “characters,” but their “characterization” is connected to a cherished time of year. Ollie Cagle was a “character” connected to a place and period of time in the history of downtown Salisbury. His loose fitting trousers were “Chaplinesque,” minus bowler and cane. Ollie appreciated good cloth. I might have mentioned this before, but as I came out of Zimmerman’s one day, I told him about the new pair of slacks I had just bought and was wearing. He rubbed his hand across them (appropriately, not inappropriately), chuckled, and pronounced them to be “Good material!”
When I lived in Yanceyville (1974-2008), a local, rotund judge was Santa Claus in the Yanceyville Christmas Parade. Yes, Santa Claus can be described as a “judge of men,” although the “Chief Judge” (the only one) at history’s end, will, I think, be making his deliberations with a much weightier question than just whether someone has been “naughty or nice.” And to paraphrase Ray Stevens: “He’s everywhere too!”
Just now an old “mall memory” comes to mind, one from the long defunct, really nice, and much late “Carolina Circle Mall” of Greensboro. The Santa Claus who was set up in this “throne” there during the early 1980s was the best I’ve ever seen! His real beard and head hair were the best. There is still a picture of my daughter Rachel and nieces Lori and Amanda being nestled by him, as a nest nestles young birds.
Just the other day, I was in the Walmart parking lot and was drawn to a familiar beard and head of hair before seeing the face within: it was Santa (or rather, his Danville helper)! His wife was with him, wearing the traditional cloth hat, making her look like a combination of Santa’s famous spouse and the equally famous spouse of George Washington.
Like a child showing off new toys, I said “I’m 67, with an 11-months-old right hip and 20-weeks- old-left hip, so averaged, I’m less than 67!” I then performed a fast walk for Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, showing off my new “toys” (not given me by Santa, but by Dr. John S. Mahoney, Medicare and Medigap).
Both Clauses said “God Bless You,” with Mrs. Claus giving me a small, cellophane-wrapped candy cane from her pocket, and asking me if I knew its stripes’ meaning, and I said I did (these Clauses know the “Reason for the Season”).
Just then, I tried to remember where I had left my no longer-used cane (possibly at church, which would be appropriate).
Instead of eating this little striped cane given me by Mrs. Claus, I’ll just cherish it, enjoying its sweetness with my heart.

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