Every childhood has a character in it's story. My childhood has Uncle Willie.
He wasn't my uncle or anyone else's uncle as far as I knew, but we all called him Uncle Willie none-the-less.
He and his wife Skip were the most generous people I have ever known. I could go on for hours with Uncle Willie stories, but during this time of year, I think of Uncle Willie for one very important reason: Uncle Willie was Santa Claus.
There is still no doubt in my mind that Uncle Willie was Uncle Willie 11 months of the year, but once December rolled around he was the real deal.
As we lived in the tropics, there was no snow, but the week before Christmas, Uncle Willie would ride through the neighborhoods on a sleigh that was pulled by a pickup truck. We never knew when he would come around, but when he did, he had a toy for every child who came out of their house and he knew each of those children by name. Sure, I know that the parents provided the gifts, but he knew just when to pull it out and who to give it to. I'm not talking about one neighborhood. I'm talking about a couple hundred kids in several towns!
Every Christmas morning, he would come to our house dressed as Santa and playing his french horn. The funny thing about the horn was the grill that covered the opening as he played terribly and people would throw things into it to make him stop! Nothing could stop Uncle Willie from playing that horn.
Uncle Willie and Skip are both gone now, but I'll never forget them and every Christmas, when I put my favorite ornament on the tree, I think of Uncle Willie, thank him for making that simple scallop shell ornament for me and tell him again just how much I miss him.