Maine's Santa Squad
Christmas is less than a week away, and presents are piling up under the tree at Mahoosuc Mills Town Hall. See, every year, they put up a Christmas tree down there with stars on it. On each star is a request for a present from a kid in town. You know, a kid whose family needs a little help. Some of them will just break your heart: a Barbie doll, Play Dough, a new winter hat and mittens. I mean, these kids have nothing. Anyone can go down there, take a star, buy the present, wrap it and drop it back to the Town Hall. If there are any stars left over, the Knights of Columbus buys the rest of the gifts.
Then on Christmas Eve day, my husband Charlie and the boys, Bud, Smitty, Pat, Tommy, and Junior deliver them to the houses. They call themselves the “Santa Squad.” Charlie wears his Santa costume, and the boys dress as Santa’s helpers. (These guys could never pass as elves!) They’re all in red and green, with Santa caps. They make the deliveries in Junior’s old Chevy Suburban, which is reddish-brown, I think. And the boys have the thing all tricked out for the job, with gold and silver garland. They attach antlers on the front (donated by Bud). Then Smitty – who doesn’t owe a hardware store for nothing. If you need something fixed, he’s your guy – Smitty jury-rigs one of them red volunteer fireman dome lights onto the grill. Can you guess their nickname for the car? Us girls even made up a little theme song for them:
Rudolph, the red Suburban
The car that really takes the prize
(It) may not be much to look at
But it’s big enough for Santa’s guys!
The Santa Squad has a whole routine. They’ve been doing this for years. Before the boys start their rounds, they meet down to the Busy Bee for breakfast. The Busy Bee is owned by Bud and Babe Delahunt. And during the holiday season, and only then, they serve Bud’s famous Bake Bean Breakfast Buffet. You’ve got your baked beans with salt pork and molasses, beans with hotdogs, of course. Then it gets more exotic: baked beans with venison steak, Cajun-style baked beans and sausage, bourbon baked beans. You get the idea. That means that by late morning, Rudolph is a gas-powered vehicle!
Each member of the Santa Squad has a job to do. Like I said, Charlie’s Santa. Junior drives. Pat’s in charge of jingle bell ringing and planning the route. Smitty takes care of the red light and the Christmas carols (he rigged up speakers on the roof), Tommy makes sure they have the right present for the house, and Bud is the first one to the door. He announces that Santa’s arrived, and once the kid is in place, Tommy goes, “Here’s Santa!” And Pat jingles those sleigh bells, and Santa emerges from Rudolph with the present. Let me tell you, those kids are beside themselves!
And the Santa Squad’s pretty jacked up, too. Seeing the looks on those kid’s faces is one of the highlights of Charlie’s year.
May your holiday be a merry one filled with love, laugher and the joy of giving.
That’s it for now. Catch you on the flip side!