Twas the week before Christmas, and our dad was playing Santa for a group of little children, venue in the elementary school lunchroom. Santa ho-ho-ho'ed and lifted children to the rafters, hitched up his big belt (dad was slim) and coughed a bit (dad smoked unfiltered Lucky Strikes for 40 years). At the age of 16, I watched from a corner of the room. A little girl about 5 years old came over and observed, "Look at Santa's fingers! I didn't know that Santa was a Mason." (Dad was also a Mason and wore that distinctive ring.) My mother and her sister, who was also married to a Mason, used to get the men tanked a bit during our family vacations, in an effort to get the secrets of The Order out of them. Never worked. Both of them took the secrets of the Masonic Lodge to their graves with them. My father also took the secret recipe for his world famous hush puppies with him. Dad grew up the youngest in a family of 14 children, on a dirt farm in Alabama during the Big Depression. His only Christmas gift was an orange one year. He loved Christmas as an adult and a dad and never once took any of the fantasy, food, or spirit of the season for granted. During the holidays, we would go to the grocery market, where he would fill bags and bags with food and other goods. We would drive forever to some out of the way place in the country, where a poor family or elderly couple lived (who knows how he knew about these people?) and put all these things in their cupboards, closets, etc. No one ever appreciated or loved Christmas more than our dad. Pass it on.