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Rener Gracie details how grandfather Helio dressed like Santa and rode a black stallion on Christmas

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Rener Gracie details what Christmas festivities were like for as a child with grandfather, Helio playing the role of Santa Claus in the most unique way.

Rener Gracie

A few years ago, I interviewed Rener Gracie near the holidays and he told me the most amazing story about the Gracie family Christmas celebrations they had when he was growing up. Today, I'd like to share it with you guys.

Imagine being a small child on Christmas Eve, waiting for the arrival of a fat guy in a red suit, squeezing his big butt down your chimney. You kind of have to wonder how he managed to never catch fire or burn any of those wonderful toys. Then he gorges himself on all the cookies and milk you left for him, yet still manages to hoist himself back up the chimney, onto the roof, and into the sleigh, without ever making a sound, so when you woke up, all you saw was his handiwork.

This is how I always envisioned Christmas. Until I talked to Rener Gracie. He effectively took my traditional, if not boring, memories of Christmas, and blew them from my mind like a Mission Impossible explosion. The images he painted for me of a Gracie Christmas are like something out of a fairy tale.

"My dad goes all the way. He has a history that comes from the grandmaster. Grandmaster Helio, my grandfather, every Christmas in Brazil, would dress up in full Santa Clause regalia, and he would get on a black stallion, a black horse, in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve, would come galloping onto the property with a bag full of presents. He would get off the horse, and climb off the ladder, and go in to give out presents to all the kids in the Gracie compound, as we called it. My dad grew up with that whole thing so he tried to preserve that here.

My dad has gone to every extent necessary to preserve that situation for the little ones. He doesn't come up in a black stallion in the middle of the street in Torrance, CA, but he'll get all dressed up and go across the street in the middle of the night, where he gets on top of the neighbor's house, so that when the kids look out the window, they'll see Santa on top of the house. He comes down with all the presents and crosses the street like a little old man. Then he hands out the presents to all the kids. He goes all the way, 100%.

That worked for me until I was 8 years old. It's so funny because I was sitting down to open my presents, and I reached up to grab his beard to look under it, because he was very good at making this disguise. When I lifted the beard, he slapped my hand away from it and he reprimanded me using a Portuguese reprimand that only he did, my whole life. Now my dad has me dress up as Santa, because there are always kids being born in our family, so it's always necessary for a new Santa Clause."

Happy Holidays from all of us here at Bloody Elbow.