Here Comes Santa Claus

Here comes Santa Claus. Here comes Santa Claus …

Now, with my white hair, round face, beard and jolly jelly-belly, I have been called Santa Claus a few times in my life. In fact, yesterday when I was at the post office, a friend yelled out to me, “All you need is the red suit.”

Today I put on the red suit and played the lead role in a Breakfast with Santa at a local restaurant. As I was sitting there waiting for the kids to finish their breakfast and the next wave to come around, I thought about Christmas traditions, mostly past. They’ll be coming in future posts.

For now, we’ll talk about the red suit. I only wore a Santa suit once while my kids were growing up. Somehow, my arm was twisted to arrive for my then four year old son, one year old daughter and our downstairs neighbors and their passel of grandchildren. It was a disaster. My four year old wanted to know why I was wearing his daddy’s glasses and shoes and whether my beard was real as he tugged it {I was clean shaven as the time}. My one year old was scared of me. The neighbors’ grandkids were a) not interested, b) afraid and/or c) grab-by. One of them even peed on me!

So I officially “retired” at age 26 and left the ho ho hoing to others.

My neighbor {remember sunny Sonni?} asked for a favor four years ago. She wanted to visit the local oncology center where both her husband and my wife were treated. She twisted my arm. So, I donned the red suit, she went as an elf and another neighbor went as a grandmotherly Mrs. Claus. We went with little gifts and homemade cookies {not by me} to spread some cheer at a not-so-cheery venue.

The experience was a lot better. Walking into the office brought smiles to most. Some asked for pictures.

But I remember one woman in particular. She had real sad eyes and bruises on her arm where the chemo cocktails were inserted. She was expressionless as we walked into and remained in the treatment area, mostly looking away. She wanted no part of these merry-makers.

Now, I’m not an extroverted person. I don’t generally reach out to people, but something compelled me to go to this woman. I knelt down by her and grabbed her cold hand — the one not tethered to the IV bag — and simply wished her a Merry Christmas. She looked into my eyes and said there wasn’t much to be merry about. I told her I understood and explained just a year ago I sat with my wife in that exact chair. I didn’t know what she was going through but I knew what I went through and she was right, it wasn’t a merry time. But Christmas is a season of hope.

Her demeanor softened as she asked me how my wife was. I told her she had died, but the chemo gave us a chance to squeeze out precious extra days, weeks and months. And I reaffirmed I was in a new season … this Christmas season of hope … which I wanted to share with her.

Her eyes welled and a smile worked its way onto her face. She squeezed my hand and said, simply, “Thank you!” I kissed her hand and said “You’re welcome. Hope and fight.”

I don’t know what happened to the woman. I don’t know if or for how long she fought the fight. It doesn’t matter.

We never went back to the oncology center, but sunny Sonni has since talked me into donning the red suit for the local pre-school center — this will be my third year — and the gig at the restaurant. And when I do transform into Santa, I remember they day a kneeling rotund guy in a red suit was reminded of the reason for the season … hope.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: People respond to praise more than they respond to criticism.

About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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2 Responses to Here Comes Santa Claus

  1. Deanna says:

    I remember you telling me about when you went to the hospital. It still brings tears to my eyes. Aunt Arlene just sent me some pictures a few weeks ago…I happen to have some of you in the red suit. I was wondering about that story…

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