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Dave Spencer Christmas Traditions: Santa, the Nurse, and ‘Leon’…and One Great Story

I really hope that all people have Christmas traditions that are unique to their families. I think that’s a part of what constitutes a great Christmas. Whether it be an unusual recipe, a homemade ornament, or a funny story that someone always ends up telling…it’s all important. It’s part of the fabric.

 

LEON

Dave Spencer

 

Several years ago, before I was born, my mom and a friend of hers saw this “Noel” candle set in a store window downtown. (And for those of you new, or relatively new, to Owensboro, downtown used to teem with stores and shopping centers.) Each letter in the word held one or two candles. She bought it.

The decoration took up residence at different locations within our home for several years until it became a permanent Christmas fixture on the mantel piece of our fireplace in the family room we added to the house when I was 12.

Now, it was rare that I EVER saw the word “NOEL.” That’s because a close friend of our family’s would rearrange the set every time he saw it so that it would spell “LEON.” Every time. For the longest time, I thought that was correct. I didn’t know why or who “Leon” might be. I just thought that was the way it was supposed to be. I was a kid.

Well, as time has passed and the candle set has the made the move when my parents or my mom have moved, I maintain the “LEON” tradition. As far as I’m concerned, and as far as that candle set is concerned (and it stopped holding candles eons ago), NOEL just doesn’t look right.

 

SANTA AND THE NURSE

Dave Spencer

My dad’s birthday was March 17th and his aunt and uncle were always good about finding him a St. Patrick’s Day birthday card. Always the perfect card. A funny card. I never could.

Apparently, my sister inherited the ability of my great-aunt to find just the perfect thing for whatever occasion. The figurine featuring a nurse taking Santa Claus’ blood pressure is a prime example. You see, my mother is a retired nurse. And my dad–who passed away in 2005–was Santa Claus at Towne Square Mall and Holiday World.

I don’t know where she got it. I mean, she told me, but I forgot. But I have never seen anything like it since. It’s been in the family for about 15 years and, unlike the NOEL…I mean LEON candle holders, it is not chipped or cracked. Just part of the family.

 

“TRY IT ONE MORE TIME”

It was Christmas 1997, and one of my best friend’s was in town spending Christmas Eve with his wife’s family. (They have since divorced.) He had told me he was going to call that evening and we’d go have a cup of coffee and chat for a bit. But as the night wore on, no call. So I called her family’s house. Busy signal. Tried again. Busy signal.

I ended up trying off and on for about an hour. At that time, I gave up and decided I’d go home and get the last few items that I needed to wrap. (I was making those calls from my parents’ place, by the way.) Just as I was about to walk out the door, my dad–a Towne Square Mall and Holiday World Santa Claus, you recall–said, “Why don’t you try it one more time?”

I did.

And I got through. You see, they’d been on the Internet and, back then, that meant the phone was tied up. But, yeah, I got through. After all those busy signals, it took Santa Claus…I mean Dad (or DO I mean Dad?) telling me to give it another try for the phone to actually ring.

It was so weird. And it’s one of our favorite family stories.

I hope you guys have a lot of them. And I hope you all have a Merry Christmas!

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