When I boxed up my Black Santas last year, I was already making plans for December 2020, sketching out how I might both tweak and enhance my annual office holiday display.

This special seasonal tradition kicks off the weekend after Thanksgiving with my ritual — usually stealth — trip into my GBH office. I boost my holiday spirit by blasting Christmas carols while I unpack boxes and bags of Black Santas from my extensive collection. For several hours I work turning my ordinary desk, chair, bookshelves and door into a Black Santa wonderland.

No two of my Black Santas are alike — ranging from tall, squat, skinny and jolly belly round with distinctive African American features and skin tones from cafe au lait to deepest chocolate. When I decorate the office, the goal is a Black Santa tucked into every available space: A small bendable Santa sitting on the computer shelf, or a string puppet Santa hanging from the ceiling. Typically, I line up several on the front of the desk and place dozens more on tiered rows atop my wide file cabinet, tiny twinkling colored lights intertwined among them.

In my world, more is more. So I swaddle one of my bookcases in huge swaths of green fabric printed with smiling faces of red-hatted Black Santas and arrange more Santa figures on the floor — a few nestled in tissue-lined baskets, others posed in eye-catching groupings. Nothing makes me happier than to put the final touches on the Black Santa tableau and enjoy the oohs and ahs of my coworkers who step inside my office to get a closer look — delighted to point out, “Here’s a new one!”

But there will be none of those moments this holiday season. Like so many other events, my Black Santa display is necessarily postponed until next year. And wouldn’t you know? Friends and coworkers are reporting Black Santa sightings all over the place. A couple of my colleagues have sent pictures, and another bought one to give to me, knowing, as she said, “Exactly where he needed to live.” This Black Santa is pandemic-ready, complete with his own face mask. I hope next year, when he is a part of my big display, the 2020 virus will be a fading memory.

My collection has grown exponentially since I got my very first Black Santa, handmade and gifted to me by a family friend. Too bad that some are still offended by his very existence.

Chris and Iddy Kennedy, of North Little Rock, Arkansas, put an inflatable Black Santa in their yard for their 4-year-old daughter Emily. They’d displayed this Santa for three years in their old neighborhood. But just after settling into their new Lakewood community, Chris found a nasty note in his mailbox with a picture of a white Santa suggesting he “remove his Negro Santa Claus.”

Chris posted the incident on Facebook, and his new neighbors expressed their horror. Then they went one step further to show their support, each displaying a Black Santa in their yard.

I’ll admit I’ve been moving slowly in putting out my at-home Black Santas, who, in the parlance of 2020, live in my pod. Just haven’t had my usual holiday zeal — and I’ve worried about being frivolous when so many are suffering. But, once again, Black Santa came to the rescue. I finally opened the box my sister sent me with a new Santa who slowly pops his head up from inside his overstuffed velvety red bag. He made me laugh out loud.

Here’s wishing you a holiday season filled with Black Santa joy.