Centenarian Santa still shining bright

“‘Twas the night before Christmas….” Time to wake Little Santa Light up from his annual estivation/hibernation.

Covered with nicks as one would expect with his years, Santa spends 364 days carefully cradled in fluffy cotton to extend his life as long as possible. We are unsure of this Saint Nicholas’ actual age, but family lore passed down by the Mister’s grandmother, Virginia Lamar Hornor (1895-1988), traces his birth back before World War I.

With expensive early electric bulbs regarded as fragile and unreliable, Santa was treasured even at a tender young age. Grandma said the Lamar family would light him each night during the holidays, keeping Santa burning to guide her brother, Lucius Mirabeau Lamar, III (1898-1978), safely home from World War I.

Through the ensuing decades, the jolly old elf became regarded as a good luck omen – as long as he would light. And he has continued to do so.

Partially crediting Little Santa Light with his own safe return from World War II, Louis Hamilton Hornor, Jr. (1922-2005), coddled him for years. The Mister’s uncle bought Santa his own little Charlie-Brown-esque tree and found a sturdy box to serve as his bed. Uncle Louis fretted over the proper voltage for the aging family relic, so he attached a voltage attenuator to ensure no powerful electrical surge would knock the little guy out.

The annual Christmas Eve lighting is always tinged with excitement and a bit of fear. Suppose this is the year Santa refuses to rouse? What would a burned-out Santa signify?

Once again on December 24, family members took a deep breath as the Mister’s younger brother screwed Santa in tight. Sighs of relief and cries of good cheer burst forth as Saint Nick suddenly glowed.

Not wanting to exhaust the family’s oldest member for much more than a flash, he was quickly unscrewed and tucked snugly back in his bed. As we closed the lid once more on his lair, I am sure I heard him whisper as he went out of sight: “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”

Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863) wrote the enduring poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” in 1822.

Edward Hibberd Johnson of the Edison Lamp Company first hand-wired 80 red, while and blue light bulbs and strung them around a tree in the shop’s window in 1882, according to an article in Smithsonian Magazine.

 

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