I’ll never forget the first time my children visited Santa Ray at Cumberland Mall. Santa laughed a big belly.. Ho! Ho! Ho!… as Lindsey and Garrett walked away from their session with him. He smiled broadly as the kids exclaimed,”That’s him! That’s the real Santa! We saw the Real Santa, Mom! He knew Nanny and Poppy! He’s the Real One”! Santa Ray was my second cousin, and when he saw us standing in line to meet him, he decided to have a little fun. As my children approached Santa’s throne, I heard him say, “Well look who it is! It’s Lindsey and Garrett. I’ve been waiting for you two…and there’s your mommy Danita! Oh, I remember delivering toys to her house when she was a little girl. How are your Nanny Helen and Poppy Grady doing these days? Ho! Ho! Ho! I remember your Nanny Helen when she was a little girl, too! She was a rotten one every now and then! A couple of times she was so mean I wasn’t sure I would be able to leave toys for her. But she always got to acting better right before Christmas! Ho! Ho! Ho!”
Santa Ray loved family, kids and motorcycles and he loved to laugh. He’ll be missed by many, especially the moms, dads and grandparents who looked forward to sharing his special mix of mischief and merriment with their children. But none will miss him more than his family and friends, those of us who had known the big belly laugh and the contagious sense of humor long before Ray Daniel became Santa Ray.
We’ll miss you, Santa.
May you rest peacefully in the Arms of Jesus.