"Do it for me buddy... just once. I think you'd make a great Santa"
Growing up I was blessed to have experienced several Christmas Eve's with all of my cousins, Aunts, and Uncles all getting together at Grandma's house to celebrate Christmas. What made this even better was we always had SANTA come to visit before the night ended!
Years later I would of course find out that this was my Uncle Bo who was donning the jolly red suit and walking up and down the street of my Grandma's house visiting with everyone. He would let me know later that he always visited with others in the neighborhood because he knew some of the families didn't have the money to go see the mall Santa. Uncle Bo loved being Santa.
Unfortunately medical concerns and the passing of my Grandma led to him not wearing the suit as often as he did... but his love of Christmas never died. During one of his visits with Mom we had a chat about his years as Santa and he let me know he had always hoped I'd take up the role as Santa within the family when I got old enough. I admitted to him that I didn't think I would make a good Santa, but he made me promise that I would do it... at least once. I'll never forget him saying "do it for me buddy... just once. I think you'd make a great Santa."
My Uncle Bo lost his fight to cancer on December 11, 2012. Before he passed though I was able to make my promise to him over the phone: "Uncle Bo I'm going to do it. I'm going to get me a suit and I'm going to become Santa for you and to honor what you did for all those years."
Mom said it was the first time he had smiled that day.
That year for Christmas, just a few weeks after his passing, we had Christmas and there was a package under the tree for me that had a simple tag on it that said "To Honor Uncle Bo."
The following year I started wearing the suit for people, including my Uncle Nick... who unfortunately lost his own battle to cancer 1 year and 5 days after Uncle Bo did. The following spring we also had to lay to rest my Uncle Mike. Three brothers in less than 2 years. Needless to say Christmas wasn't feeling the same for our family.
So what started as a way to simply honor Uncle Bo became something more than just that. All three of my Uncles loved Christmas in their own way.
Uncle Bo was Santa. Uncle Nick would always have a Christmas light display that would rival Clark Griswold. Uncle Mike never forgot a card or a present (and even put on the jolly red suit from time to time himself).
I choose to honor the memory of my three Uncles at Christmas time. I choose to put on the yuletide uniform as much as possible in December and help create those memories that they loved to create. I choose to not make any profit from this and take all money that is provided and use it to help grant Christmas wishes for others.
I choose to write the Nice List... and to check it twice.
We have grown so much since 2012 that I know they are happy that I choose to honor them in this way. What started as a promise to wear the suit once or twice in December has now become an officially recognized 501(c)3 non profit organization founded in Huntington, WV.
We have worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central WV, Madison West Virginia's All Star Wrestling, podcast and charitable group The Standard Nerds, and Team Cure Cancer so far in our existence. We hope to work with many more organizations in the future.
So this is our story so far... will you help put your name on the Nice List?