My grandpapa was one of Santa Claus’ helpers. Or so I was assured by my parents at 5 years old. It made so much sense! My grandpapa had his very own workshop in the basement that I was rarely allowed in, not because it was dangerous, but because it wouldn’t be fair to the other kids if I saw all the toys. His material of choice was cedar wood. My grandparents’ house always smelled of fresh raw cedar. He definitely looked nothing like an elf, though I had never actually seen one. His belly protruded (with beer not milk, I came to learn) and with his hair white as snow, I knew that my grandfather couldn’t be the Santa Claus but there had to be some association.
That Christmas, all my aunts, uncles, cousins and my grandparents gathered around the tree to open presents. When it was finally my turn, I was given a present as large as I was and was wrapped the best a present that shape could have been. I tore off the wrapping as fast as an excited child could and there it was: a wooden pony. A gaping grin filled with pure joy and awe took over my face. I looked at my grandpapa and he was looking at me radiating happiness and love. I jumped into his arms knowing that he built it and as the lingering smell of sweet cedar from his overalls took over, he whispers to me: “My boss, Santa, thought you’d like it.”
Now, I’m 24, and slowly starting to lose faith in the existence of Santa Claus. However, whenever I smell the luscious scent of cedar or walk by my wooden horsey that I keep stored away in the back room for my (hopefully) future children, I remember my grandpapa. I remember that he taught me to believe in my own thoughts and ideas even if others didn’t. He taught me to never stop imagining and using my mind for creativity and love. Santa was definitely lucky to have my grandpapa spread the Christmas spirit.