[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Santa Clarita CA
Mostly sunny
Mostly sunny
Today in
S.C.V. History
July 22
2000 - Historic Larinan house in Pico Canyon burns down [story]

Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Wednesday, Dec 24, 2014

darrylmanzer_blacktieThe children are going to be a little difficult to control today. “Can we open just one present tonight?”

We gave in to that ploy once. Both my wife and I were too tired even to notice that within about 20 minutes, every package under the tree had been opened … or so the boys thought.

It was the last year they both believed in Santa. What we did after they fell asleep was sly, sneaky and a boatload of fun.

You see, we didn’t have but half of the presents under the tree. The rest were in all of the great hiding places around the house and in the garage. I even had a couple in the trunk of my car. All wrapped up and ready for Santa to deliver.

Getting the boys to bed was no easy task. Even with the great presents, they finally drifted off to await Santa. Had to carry them to bed, but it was worth it. Since both of my sons are now nearly 6-foot-5, I shall not attempt to do it again. The grandkids are a little too heavy now.

Ever so quietly, we gathered the presents and placed them around the tree. We ate the cookies left for Santa and poured the milk we left for him down the drain. It had been sitting out for nearly two hours.

I remember leaving a note saying they should have picked up all of the wrapping paper and put it in the trash. It was signed, “Santa.” Only the oldest could read at the time, so he was sure Santa had left the note.

The gifts they opened on Christmas Eve were things that were practical. Socks, underwear, shirts and a couple of toys. Pretty tame stuff but enough to keep them going.

Try as she might, my wife could never sleep past 5 o’clock on Christmas morning. It just couldn’t happen. Even if we stayed up all night, she would appear to sleep, but in reality her eyes only shut to let us think she had slept. She was like that even after the boys had grown up and moved away. With just her and me in the house, she still got up early to see if Santa had come.

I missed that after the divorce, and now that she has passed on, I’ll miss it even more. It was one of the things we laughed about in the last few weeks of her life. It is funny what someone with brain cancer can remember. In May of last year, before she slipped into a coma, she remembered Christmas and getting up early – and I cannot fathom why that happened.

She told me she still carried on her little tradition of early rising on Christmas morning. Every other day of the year, she would and could sleep in if she wasn’t getting up to go to work. On Christmas Day it was up at the crack of dawn, or before. I swear that she considered the crack of dawn to be around 3 a.m.

Since she was awake, I had to be awake. About every 10 minutes she would ask, “Should we get them up now?” I’d say it was too early, but after another 10 minutes it was the same question. Usually as the first sunlight filtered through the windows, we would go wake the boys. I became adept at the “10 minute power nap.”

The year they had to open all of the presents on Christmas Eve was the year they knew Santa was real. They just knew it because they heard us going to bed and nothing else, until we awakened them. They walked out and all of this new stuff was spread around the tree, even some presents for us, Mom and Dad.

Sometimes when things seem grim and hopeless, it is the thoughts of Christmas that buoy up our spirits and let the joy of our lives soar. You’ve got to admit that the thought of an adult staying up most the night to see what Santa brought is pretty funny. I’ve got a huge smile just thinking about her wanting to go wake the boys.

I’m not sure who got more fun out of Christmas morning. I loved watching the boys’ excitement on that morning so special. The real excitement and joy was in watching Kathie delight in the gifts she gave and those she received, too. But she was a giver, and when one or both of the boys would run to her after opening a specific gift she hoped they would like and they would give her a big hug, that was when I saw her have the most joy.

Kathie and I talked about that as she was lying there on the hospital bed in her living room last May. Slowly she slipped from us but didn’t linger that long. One of the last conversations we had was about Christmas and her early rising.

This is the first year without her here in our world, for she is in a far better place. I like to think she is sitting there at a big birthday party, waiting to open gifts and watching us open ours from her place in Heaven. I’m thinking that may be the best way for me to get through the next couple of days.

She taught me to rise early on Christmas morning. This year it is just me and the basset hound, Mr. Renly. I hope he likes his gift. I sure like the one he gives me, and that is his unconditional love. Dogs are like that.

I can feel her telling me we can’t open our presents on Christmas Eve again. Once was enough, and remember, we get up early enough to open them all in plenty of time for church. I’m glad I still have that feeling.

And Kathie, if you can hear me and see me, just know: I’m going to make this year special and rise early again, if only to watch the sun come up over the mountains. I’ll see your smile and laughter as I watch the sun rise and maybe, just maybe, I’ll feel your hug in its warmth.

Merry Christmas.


Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com. His older commentaries are archived at DManzer.com; his newer commentaries can be accessed [here]. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.


  1. Jan Grovme Jan Grovme says:

    *wishing you all a very happy holidays* [personal note:article by wacko re:chiquita canyon landfill..check into it..why are the resident being sited because of the stench from the landfill? i came into this valley knowing me and my kids will be better off,we have been here over 20 years.though it may not be important to you or these people who suppose represent us..val verde is as important as any other city in this valley. is there corruption within our valley system? i am asking you check deeply into this..air quality is as important to all the cities within-out santa clarita valley ..thanks..i appreciate any kind help you can provide]

  2. Deborah Kjose church says:

    Beautiful story, Darryl. You have a lovely way of describing poignant memories.

  3. Steven Lee says:

    That was such a well written story, and the memories you share make me feel like I was there. May she look down and smile upon you and yours this season.

  4. Greg Kimura says:

    Thank you for all your help this last year. We appreciate you taking the time to listen to us and write about what you see and hear.

    Hope you had a Merry Christmas and have a safe and happy New Year!

Leave a Comment

Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
Monday, Jul 2, 2018
In her July message, Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste wishes residents a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July, and recaps a bit of local history.
Sunday, Jul 1, 2018
The Mojave rattlesnake or “Mojave green” is a highly irritable and unpredictable pit viper. By comparison, the Pacific rattlesnake you might be accustomed to is fairly tame.
Friday, Jun 15, 2018
Your rights guarantee that you get the health services the law says you can get, protect you against unethical practices, and ensure the privacy of your personal and medical information. You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect at all times, and to be protected from discrimination.
Friday, Jun 15, 2018
California voters just bought the feel-good tax proposition that was stated to raise yet another $4 billion for “clean water” funds. Days later, Brown declared it isn’t enough. There will be another ballot measure in November to raise another $8 billion.
Friday, Jun 8, 2018
Our state leaders are finally working together to address one of the greatest inequities in higher education – funding for California community colleges that serve high need students.
Wednesday, Jun 6, 2018
Not every decision on the table must be made within the next week. When it comes to deciding how to fund community colleges, it would be wise to hit pause and devote more careful consideration to the discussion.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
2000 - Historic Larinan house in Pico Canyon burns down [story]
1952 - 7.5-magnitude Kern County earthquake devastates Tehachapi; damage spread from San Diego to Las Vegas [story]
The L.A. County Superior Court on July 17 sided with Los Angeles County and dismissed a portion of Chiquita Canyon LLC's complaint, which challenged 13 conditions of the county's conditional use permit governing how the landfill operates, Supervisor Kathryn Barger announced Friday.
Court: Chiquita Landfill Must Comply with CUP, Pay County $12 Mil.
Four men allegedly stole a van and crashed it at Cinema Drive and Valencia Boulevard late Friday afternoon, breaking gas and water lines and snarling rush-hour traffic in the center of the city.
Suspected Van Thieves Crash, Rupture Gas, Water Lines in Valencia
The Los Angeles County Arts Commission has announced $4,518,000 in two-year grants to 216 nonprofit arts organizations through its Organizational Grant Program, and the Santa Clarita Philharmonic Orchestra and the Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival are among the grantees.
Santa Clarita Philharmonic, Shakespeare Festival Win County Arts Grants
The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency's board of directors voted in its Tuesday meeting to revise its per-diem payment policy for board members attending industry-related meetings and conferences.
SCV Water Board Trims Own Meeting Attendance Pay
College of the Canyons men's basketball player Robert Moss will continue his playing career at University of Saint Katherine after committing to join the Firebirds program.
COC Hoopster Robert Moss Commits to University of Saint Katherine
When wives earn more than their husbands, a puzzling thing can happen: Husbands say they earn more than they are and wives underreport their income, according to new Census Bureau research.
Census Research: Spouses Report Earnings Differently When Wives Earn More
Responding to a booming economy and a generous state budget, administrators on Thursday approved the first tuition decrease for the University of California system in nearly 20 years.
University of California Cuts Tuition for First Time in 20 Years
The William S. Hart Union High School District and Spirit Holding, developers of Castaic High School, will host a community kick-off event on Friday, Aug. 3, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. celebrating the one-year countdown to the grand opening of the new school, currently under construction.
Aug. 3: ‘Countdown to Castaic High’ Public Celebration
The next meeting of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set for Tuesday, July 24, starting at 9:30 a.m.
July 24: LA County Board of Supervisors Meeting
The Los Angeles County Health Officer has issued a Heat Alert for Monday, July 23 and Tuesday, July 24, as high temperatures have been forecast for the Santa Clarita Valley.
SCV Heat Alert Called for Monday, Tuesday
The Lancaster JetHawks jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but two late home runs from Stockton's Sandber Pimentel led the Ports to victory in a 5-4 final on Thursday night at Banner Island Ballpark.
Lancaster Can’t Stop Pimentel, Ports
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and Department of Justice have made public the government's plan for the court-ordered reunification of children ages 5 years and older who were separated from their parents by immigration authorities.
Feds Detail Plan to Reunite Immigrant Children with Parents
2001 - Then-Assemblyman George Runner introduces legislation to memorialize the historic Ridge Route. Enacted Oct. 4. [story]
During a press conference on Thursday at the Gerdau steel mill in Rancho Cucamonga, Chief Eric Parra announced the destruction of 3,566 weapons confiscated within in Los Angeles County. This event comes typically in July, in compliance with California Penal Code 18005(c), which calls for weapons unable to be sold to the public or returned to their owners, to be destroyed.
More than 3,500 Weapons Destroyed at Annual Destruction Event
The Summer Art Festival, at the Oaks Club of Valencia, invites you to a fun, free artists’ reception on Saturday, Aug. 11, 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Aug. 11: Summer Art Festival at Oaks Club
When you think "Advanced Manufacturing," Santa Clarita Valley probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind.
SCV Paves the Way for Advanced Manufacturing
(CN) – Delivering a blow to a Silicon Valley billionaire, the California Supreme Court on Wednesday erased a November ballot measure proposing to divide the Golden State in three.
State Supreme Court Tosses Ballot Measure to Split California in Three
Internationally famous Doña Oxford aka “The Goddess of Soul,” is fronting one of the hottest Blues bands of the 21st century. She has toured all over the world, bringing her amazing keyboard playing and vocals to devoted fans in Europe, Japan, Canada and the United States.
July 20: Valencia Jazz & Blues Series to Feature Doña Oxford
No business is immune from the unthinkable. Workplace violence is an increasingly important topic for organizations of all types.
Aug. 21: Active Shooter Awareness Training at VIA Luncheon
St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish Church is holding their 2nd Annual Summer Night Car Show Friday, Aug. 24 from 6:00 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Aug. 24: St. Kateri 2nd Annual Summer Night Car Show
The Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative and Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority on Thursday launched the Los Angeles Homeless Outreach Portal, dubbed LA-HOP, the new Countywide Web-based portal that channels outreach support to people experiencing homelessness.
County Launches Online Portal to Combat Homelessness
LOS ANGELES - Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) announced Tuesday the company is now offering $75 rebates for residential customers who purchase eligible Energy Star certified smart thermostats that help residents manage their heating and cooling costs and conserve energy.
SoCal Gas Offering Rebates for Customers with Smart Thermostats
STOCKTON – Brian Serven put together one of his best offensive performances of the season to lead the JetHakwks to a 7-2 to win over the Stockton Ports on Wednesday night at Banner Island Ballpark.
Serven Leads JetHawks to Victory in Series Opener Against Stockton
The William S. Hart Union High School District’s Governing Board voted unanimously to approve the appointment of Brad Renison to become the new Director of Transportation. Most recently, Mr. Renison has been serving as the Interim Director of Transportation.
Hart District Names Brad Renison New Transportation Director
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers today acquired four-time All-Star shortstop Manny Machado from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Rylan Bannon, Yusniel Díaz, Dean Kremer, Zach Pop and Breyvic Valera.
Dodgers Acquire 4-Time All-Star Manny Machado
The William S. Hart Union High School District’s Governing Board voted unanimously to approve the appointment of Dr. Catherine Nicholas to become the new principal of Sequoia School.
Hart District Appoints Dr. Catherine Nicholas as New Sequoia School Principal
Welcome to paradise at a high-energy, live show coming up in Santa Clarita’s Concerts in the Park series, presented by Logix Federal Credit Union, this Saturday, July 21, at 7:00 p.m., in Central Park (27150 Bouquet Canyon Road).
July 21: Concerts in the Park to Feature Green Day Tribute Band
SCV Sheriff's Crime Prevention Unit deputies and station detectives have noted an increase in the thefts of catalytic converters from cars in Santa Clarita Valley. The favored target of thieves has been the Toyota Prius (2005-2009).
Deputies Warn of Rise in Catalytic Converter Thefts from Prius Cars
LOS ANGELES – According to the South Coast Air Quality Management District, air quality will be unhealthy Thursday for sensitive individuals in San Gabriel Valley, Santa Clarita Valley and Antelope Valley.
Air Quality Advisory Issued for SCV
Would you like to be a volunteer at beautiful Red Rock Canyon State Park? Learn about the volunteer program and the park’s natural and cultural history at our two-day volunteer training, Saturdays, Sept. 1st and 8th from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. at the Ricardo Visitor Center (new volunteers must attend both days).
Red Rock Canyon State Park to Hold 2-Day Volunteer Training
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) announces the scheduled closure of the Tejon Safety Roadside Rest Areas on Interstate 5 (Golden State Freeway) to replace a water main line.
Caltrans Announces Temporary Rest Area Closure on I-5 at Tejon
1924 - Sherman Block, L.A. County's 29th Sheriff (1982-1998), born in Chicago [story]
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies have arrested a Santa Clarita woman who allegedly spray-painted walls on a city park building in Saugus early Tuesday morning, also discovering she was allegedly in possession of forged checks.
Woman Charged with Defacing Park Building, Check Forgery
The Paramount Network has set Aug. 11 as the premiere date of 'I Am Paul Walker,' a new film documentary tracing the life of the late actor, who was killed in a 2013 car crash in Valencia.
Aug. 11: Paul Walker Film Doc to Debut on Paramount Network