It’s been over two months since I’ve written a post.  Originally I said I didn’t have a theme for a blog, so I didn’t start one. Once I did, I then used the excuse of not having an idea to fit my theme to postpone writing any more posts.  With the New Year here, I am making an effort to blog again.  This piece may be more appropriate in November or December because it’s about Santa and my felf hat, but it’s on my mind now and I will not use any excuse, including “The timing’s not right.” to stop posting. So here it is; my first blog post for 2014.

My Felf Hat

This year was the first year I didn’t wear my Santa Dave felf hat during the Christmas holiday.  I started wearing this hat when I was about eleven years old. I continued wearing it (sometimes literally) through my teenage years and even into adulthood.

The hat changed as I changed, but even after I married and the hat continued to be modified, my loyalty to Santa never faltered.

Let me clarify, my Santa is not the same as everyone else’s Santa.  My Santa is “Santa Dave.”  Santa Dave is my dad’s youngest brother (my uncle), and he has Down’s Syndrome. Uncle Dave came to live with my dad, mom, sister and I when I was eight years old and my dad became his legal guardian.  The relationship between Dave and I cannot be explained in just one blog post, but you need to understand that Dave is more like a younger brother to me than an uncle.  His cognitive ability is that of about a five year old, so as I grew up, I became an older sibling in most situations.  This was the reason Santa Dave needed his “felf.”  (“Felf” is how he pronounces “elf.”)

Each year at Christmas time, Uncle Dave would transform into “Santa Dave” and distribute gifts to his many nieces of nephews during our annual Marietti Family Christmas Party.  He couldn’t, however, read the names on the presents’ gift tags.  My original felf job was to pull each gift from Santa Dave’s red bag, silently read the name on the gift tag then whisper the name into his ear so he could call it out himself.  Even as a young child, I understood the excitement in my cousins’ eyes as they approached Santa Dave and received their personal gifts. Of course, there were always one or two little ones afraid and sometimes even crying, which troubled Santa Dave, but overall it was a joyful experience for us all.

It was only a few years later that I began to help my mother shop for each gift then wrap them all before Santa Dave’s annual arrival.  Other than a few years’ pause due to my parent’s divorce, I continued wearing my felf hat.  Eventually, I did entrust the whispering of names into Santa Dave’s ear to others, but I continued to shop for and wrap up to 40 gifts until a year ago this past Christmas.

I’m not one to abruptly quit anything, especially after collecting over 30 years of memories, but in 2009 my felf hat didn’t seem to fit the same.

Pam wearing the felf hat.

Pam came from CA to wear the felf hat.”

(For those that want to read more about that year and Santa Dave, I’ve included another blog post here.)  In 2010, word spread that it would probably be Santa Dave’s last year and 104 Marietti family members attended the Christmas party to hear Santa ring the bells and call out, “Merry Christmas Everyone”

Then at the 2012 party, Uncle Dave’s progressing dementia hadn’t allowed him to transform into Santa Dave. I told my cousins I didn’t want to wear my felf hat anymore. Shopping for and wrapping the gifts didn’t bring me the same good feeling.  Even though my dad said Santa Dave gifts could continue, I didn’t want to continue shopping and wrapping them. I knew my felf hat didn’t hold the magic, like Frosty the Snowman’s, to bring Santa Dave back.  So after a span of 35 years, I chose to not wear my felf hat this past Christmas.  I anticipated a feeling of sadness, but that never happened.  At first, I wasn’t sure why, but after writing this post, I know. My felf hat isn’t magical; the magic is in the memories of helping Santa Dave come to life for my Marietti family each year.