Christmas in July

Is that Santa, in shorts, with a hose?

Is that Santa, in shorts, with a hose?

Have you ever stopped to consider which holiday is Santa Claus’ favorite? It’s not Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas. He’s working flat-out during those holidays, trying to meet unreasonable deadlines and deal with unruly parents and ill-behaved children. On New Year’s Eve, he still has his feet up, recovering. Easter’s not a favorite, either. That bunny is just too competitive.

This past weekend, I learned from Santa what his favorite holiday is, and why.

I was at a party in Port Orchard, Washington. The venue was breathtaking, a gorgeous house on a bluff, overlooking Bremerton, Sinclair Inlet, and the Olympic mountains.

There were numerous barbecue grills, a groaning table of summer salads, and a homemade peach-and-plum cobbler, along with ice-cold lemonade and root beer. There was a live band, and a red, white, and blue photo booth with cute props. The yard was surrounded by a riot of colorful flowers, and white-crowned sparrows cavorted on top of the fence. It was sunny and hot.

It was Santa’s favorite holiday, the Fourth of July.

Santa kicked back in the shade with Mrs. Claus and some friends who looked strangely like him. He ate and drank, listened to music, and played some cards. He didn’t eat a single Christmas cookie, and the band didn’t play a single Christmas carol. He posed for a photo or two, but nobody sat in his lap.

It was when it started to get dark that it became apparent, Santa has a secret: He’s passionate about fireworks.

“There’s only one holiday when I spend money — the Fourth of July. I’m too busy at Christmas,” he told me, as he carefully hosed down the grass. He wan’t preparing to shoot off a small handful of fireworks. He had a wheelbarrow full of them.

I asked another Santa — there were many at the event — if that was unusual, and he said no. “See this? he said, reaching into his bag and showing me a yellow cardboard box. “I have 60 more of these to set off tonight.” He chuckled gleefully as we settled into our chairs to watch the show.

I could see nonstop fireworks for miles around Port Orchard and Bremerton, but the ones in Santa’s yard were the best. They were big and bright, exploding directly overhead in great big balls of stars and streamers. I’ve never seen roman candles so bright, or so close. Even Santa’s sparklers were four times as big as any I’ve seen. Everything was bright and colorful, blue and yellow and white and purple and pink. There weren’t many red or green ones, and I didn’t ask why.

The next time you attend a fireworks celebration, keep an eye out for Santa on his favorite holiday. It’s hard to spot him in the dark. He’ll probably be wearing shorts and a t-shirt, not sweltering in a red-and-white suit. He can’t stay anonymous, though; there’s a dead giveaway that he’s in the neighborhood. That’s when “BOOM!” is followed by “HO, HO, HO!”

To learn more about Santa Dennis Simpson, visit his webpage.