Growing up in a family too poor to afford Christmas gifts for the children, turned Dr. José Luis Bautista into a Santa Claus-hating kid into Santa Claus himself.
That’s because the doctor wanted to erase such memories from children with similar backgrounds.
Even better, the younger generation of Bautistas are continuing the tradition of Navidad en el Barrio.
That’s why Mía Bautista, his granddaughter, was helping out in the food preparation area where volunteers cooked up hot dogs and hamburgers for the hundreds of families who showed up Dec. 22 at the Bautista Medical Group clinic in downtown Fresno.
“I like to be out here helping out,” said Mía, as she waited for another volunteer to fill a tray with grilled, hamburger patties. “Mostly, we want to make sure kids get fed and get toys.”
Mía was among an army of volunteers for the event that included Santa Claus, toys, food, clothes, medical checkups and entertainment.
Bautista, in a previous interview, recalled telling his mother that he hated Santa Claus because he didn’t deliver him any gifts.
“I used to cuss at Santa Claus because I was a kid and didn't know any better,” said Bautista.
His mother would slap him and say, “Someday, you could be Santa Claus.”
That happened for the 18th annual time for a Christmas tradition Bautista started. A similar event was held at his Sanger clinic the previous weekend.