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?