Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Bougie Flashback – Black Santa

My childhood Christmas memories are chock full of BougieDad cuttin' up. I mean for a professional man who was about business, he was in so many ways a pure D fool (and I loved it!).

Our house was smack in the middle of lily-white Suburbia. We were the first Black family to move into the area. Actually, BougieDad had to sue the City of Dallas to "allow" us to live there. Nothing says bougenificence like a court order J. So it was into this atmosphere that he launched his annual Christmas Decoration Fest. BougieDad was not going to be outdone by the neighbors. We had glittery lights, we had lights that looked like candles, we had statuettes, music, figurines and the piece de resistance: A life-sized poster of Santa on the front door.

Unfortunately, this was before the "culturally diverse" Santas were popular. Do you think BougieDad was going to let something like that get in his way? Oh no. BougieDad took the chocolate brown shoe polish and gave jolly white Santa a melanin infusion for the ages. Yeah he did. And then he taped the poster up over the front door for all the world to see. And no, it wasn't classy looking. He only shoe polished the face and neck, Santa's wrists were still white and his eyes still light blue. Truthfully, Black Santa looked like a possessed and costumed Al Jolson in blackface in need of a Jenny Craig Solution.

I vividly recall asking him, "Is Santa really black?" He said, "Yes he is and Jesus too." I went to school and repeated this, I was sent to the principal's office. They called both BougieMom and BougieDad in to talk about my "radical inclinations". Not sure (though I have a good idea) what went on in that meeting but I was allowed to address my class on possibility of a racially diverse Santa Claus. It was received with mixed reviews. Anyway, my house was the only one for miles around rocking Black Santa.

To say the Black Santa poster was a showstopper is an understatement. We could hear people come up the driveway and pause at the bottom of the stairs like – Am I really seeing this? By the time they rang the doorbell they were astonished, annoyed or admiring. That poster got ripped in the middle of the night so many times; BougieDad switched to industrial strength packing tape and put up a sign warning of 24-hour surveillance. That kept the poster up until it literally fell apart on its own and we couldn't find a new one in stores anymore. Yes, we had to hold BougieDad back from painting all the angels in the outdoor statues black.

As much as I used to roll my eyes at his shenanigans trying to "blacken up" Christmas, do you know that now I go out of my way to find the cocoa-hued figurines, cards with people of color and decorations that reveal a bit more culture than Frosty and Rudolph (not that I don't love them too). I've added the Boondocks "A Huey Freeman Christmas" episode right along with Charlie Brown. I give my nieces and nephews toys representing all races and make sure they understand why. I guess I paid attention a little more than I thought.

Any Black Santa (or Holiday) recollections to share?

15 comments:

imsopretty08 said...

LMAO! We had a black santa too! You know those light up santa heads that you hung on a door? Yea....ours was white at first then he was chocolate with blue eyes! Scared the mess out of me, it was creepy!

Sarah said...

My favorite Christmas memory is going to the early evening candle light service. As I remember it, each person would be given a small candle in a holder which would be lit from your neighbor starting at the aisle. The service would be mostly if not all singing Christmas carols. It used to give me chills sitting there in a sea of candle light hearing the church filled with singing voices.

LikeLena said...

Oh bless you, I thought it was me. My Dad bought a six foot angel to post up in the front yard and spray painted her brown, put her in a dashiki and then put the wings back on... but my dad had that Jamaican sense of humor

OneChele said...

Girl, BougieDad was West Indian too - it's a special kind of crazy

Grace said...

I love the thought of him sticking that big poster on the door back in the day! BougieDad was kinda gangsta?!

Liselle said...

Why the shoe polish - why? Bless his heart. LMAO!

OneChele said...

We used to attend the candlelight service as well, plus Watch Night service on New Year's Eve. Basically if there was any form of holiday, BougieMom had s up in the church house.

OneChele said...

He had a gangsta tendency or two.

JaymeC said...

BougieDad was gonna make sure ya'll stayed black and proud.

MotownMs said...

As a woman of a certain age...I have been around for awhile and sent melanin-enriched holiday cards ever since I was responsible for buying them. Initially...I used to color them with brown magic marker and people would ask me where were they purchased so they could buy some. If I had been more entrepreneurial back then I would have started a small business. Even though there are more ethnic cards on the market today they have to be hunted down...so I have been known to still whip out a marker or two...

BTW...I thoroughly enjoy your blog and follow you on Twitter...you are hilarious ...Happy Holidays!

The Lady said...

That story makes me grin from ear to ear! It reminds me of an angel tree topper we had when I was little. She lit up and was pretty, only she was white. My momma (who is quite Bougie) was having none of it, and had me go get my box of Crayola 64 and proceeded to color the angel brown. Afterwards when she lit her and proudly placed her on top of the tree, she was a sister with streaks in her face from the coloring. I guess that explains why my house I have now is fully decorated with Black Santas and Angels. Gotta love the parents for giving us pride and memories!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

Brandi said...

I may have scrooge like tendencies and rebel against the Holiday spirit but I do support my sister, The Lady's, Christmas addiction. I buy Black Christmas cards, Santas and Angels the majority of the time. There is a great feeling of pride when you see the black faces regally decorating your home.

OneChele said...

LMAO at the Christmas addiction - is she perennially jolly round this time of year?!
As for the black faces, they have gotten better but we could definitely use more (varied) options in the Christmas Diversity market.

storm529 said...

Aw shucks....this story brought back some fond holiday memories for me. My Auntie also painted our santa door poster black. She used a brown magic marker though. Until we found our beautiful black angel (to sit atop our tree), she would give the white angel a brown makeover too. I loved it.

The Lady said...

I wouldn't say I'm overly jolly. But my house decorations rival that of major department stores. Santas, black nativity scenes, angels, fairies, other Christmas themed figurines/decorations, and a fully decorated tree which now has a rotating stand, etc.! I love it, love it, love it! You would too if you saw it! ;-)

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