Christmas, 1978. I was five. And sick… couldn’t go out on our yearly drive around the neighborhoods to see the lights so we weren’t there when Santa came to deliver gifts. See, growing up, we opened presents Christmas Eve night, after church… We stayed up til the wee hours of the morning then slept in while we waited for Dad to come home from doing the Christmas morning church service. Then Christmas breakfast together and time to play with the cool toys we got the night before. But that year, I was sick… So I was ushered up to my bed with my mom or my sister, I can’t remember which, to try to sleep before Santa got there. For some odd reason, Santa must have been shy or something because we were never allowed to see him… or her…. or whomever Santa was or “he”wouldn’t leave the presents. So I layed in my bed, excited and thinking that maybe this was the year I would get close enough to hear him come in the house. We didn’t have a chimney, so apparently we left the door unlocked for Santa to make his way in… not safe, I know… but we couldn’t risk missing him and him not be able to get in…
All of a sudden, I heard bells… and a loud “HO HO HO”….which still, to this day, reminded me a little of my sister Judy. But nonetheless, I was wide-eyed with amazement that I could hear Santa in my living room. A few rustles of bags, and he was gone. I snuck out of my room to see if my cookies were edible, and sure enough they were… just a few crumbs left. Santa was here.
All these years later, I still remember my brush with Mr. Claus and know how lucky I was to have the gift of hearing him in my house, bells and all. I have always believed in Santa. Probably even more so today than ever.
I saw him in the eyes of a soldier when I was riding the shuttle bus at the airport. He got up for a woman who didn’t have a place to sit. Not looking for a thank you, which was good because the woman didn’t even look his way… just sat down and continued to talk on her phone. I smiled at him and thought… yes… that is what Christmas is about. Doing things for others and not looking for anything in return. Santa was in camouflage that day.
I saw him in the eyes of a young child in the store last week who was so excited to show her mommy a toy. “Look at this mommy!!!!” It was like Christmas happened right there at that moment, on that day… just for her. It was all she ever wanted. Mommy responded with a “Why don’t we wait and see if Santa brings it for you….” Her smile didn’t fade one bit… it just meant that she had to wait a few days and the magic of Santa would give her enough hope that she might just get what she wanted. She was almost more excited about that proposition than the toy itself. Santa was there with them both in that store. I know.
I heard him in the voice of my littlest nephew Tommy, wishing everyone a “Merry Chrimas” on a voicemail. The tone and the words were just perfect and made me know that Santa was there with him too.
I felt him in my family’s hugs on Friday. All of us together in one place… probably the first time in a LONG time that this has happened. It just felt good and right and it felt like love. Santa definitely made his way through each of us.
I heard him in the thank you’s from the Coatesville Food Co-op when I delivered a truck load of food two weeks ago. As I walked inside, the tables had three packages of food left to give out, and a whole long list of families to give them too. My truckload filled two big shopping carts with food, enough to feed the list for the next two weeks they said. Santa was there that day too.
I feel him when I sit here at this desk, thinking about the lives we have to touch… the smiles we have to give… the lessons we have to learn AND teach. I am blessed by those around me, those who work here with me and those who come through the doors for us to teach. I learn from each and every one of them, and I am honored to be amongst a whole long list of Santas. They are here, day in and day out.
I believe in Santa. Every day, all year round. He is present in all we do, the magic, the belief, the faith. The gift of today and the hope of tomorrow and the not knowing what kind of magic awaits us around the corner. Yes, I do believe in Santa.
He is present. I have heard him. I have seen him. I know him.