I lost Rollie.
No, I didn’t lose him at the mall or on a street somewhere or some place out in the country.
He didn’t want to come to downtown Angola on Friday night to see Santa. He no longer feels the magic.
Ever since Rollie has been a part of our family, he used to get excited to see Santa. I always get excited to see Santa, but I no longer sit on his lap.
Almost every year, when Santa comes to Angola, I am a kid once more. What we do in Angola is magical. Santa comes in on the antique sleigh owned by the Barney Bryan family. It was used all the time at Christmas during the 1940s, if I remember the story correctly, and was tucked away for years until the Bryans rescued it and restored it. Kind of like one of those really cool old cars or boats that sat for years in a farm field before someone saw it and brought back to life.
Our friends get to see this beautiful sleigh in Auburn because it has been used in the Classic City to bring Santa through town during the Christmas parade.
At any rate, when Rollie joined the Marturello-Celeste clan in 2016, we brought him to see Santa shortly after he turned 6. We huddled with the masses on the north side of the Public Square, at The Brokaw Movie House.
While still outdoors, as Santa and Mrs. Claus left the sleigh and started toward The Brokaw, the jolly old elf shouted out, as he usually does, “Why look everybody! There’s little Mikey.”
Yep. Me. He did it again this year, just like always.
That first year, Santa came up to us and with a little advance notice, he also recognized Rollie.
Yep. Those eyes got as big as saucers.
“Santa knows me?”
With the exception of last year, the drive through Santa year, Rollie joined me to see Santa out on the Public Square and then inside The Brokaw to share his wishes for Christmas.
But not this year. He has been corrupted by the fourth grade. Perhaps it happened last year, but everything was crazy last year. Erika knew he might be faking it.
I tried talking to Rollie about how Santa represented joy, hope and a bright outlook for the future. Santa is your heart and his love should be shared by everyone.
Rollie is no different than any child his age.
I don’t remember when I started becoming a child again, or grew to start appreciating Santa again in my adulthood. Perhaps it was my involvement with the whole arrival of Santa in Angola. I have been a part of it so many years, either with the newspaper or volunteering with the organizations that put the event together, in this case, now with the Downtown Angola Coalition.
There’s nothing like seeing the largest Christmas tree in northeast Indiana come to life as Santa throws his magic dust into the air, in the chill of the night. Then seeing the joy of the faces of the children. Last year, even COVID could not erase the happiness Santa brings to this community, to every community.
Rollie might not have been with me to kick off this holiday season, but the community was, Mayor Richard Hickman was and so were Santa and Mrs. Claus. The joy is back.
Next year will be different. I just know it. I have another one who will be old enough for Santa in 2022. I can’t wait. It will start all over again.
And Rollie will catch up, eventually. It’s just a matter of time.