I believe in Santa Claus.                                    santa claus

You may question my sanity. After all, I am a grown woman in the middle years of life. And that particular fantasy is supposed to be tucked away with other childhood memories in the dim recesses of memory. Perhaps taken out once in awhile and smiled fondly over.

But I believe in Santa – and perhaps even more now then I did as a wide-eyed girl of five or six. I’ve had several encounters with Santa as an adult, and my belief is back and threaded into my life.

The resurrection began when I was a young mother in my late 20’s, returning home one day to find presents there. lovely wrapped gifts – ones that neither I, nor my mother could have afforded. I was asked by my child who had brought them and all I could say was ‘Santa Claus.” The best gift of all was a plush teddy bear that was treasured dearly for many years.

In my mid-30’s I became a reporter and as a reporter was held to the standard of being skeptical about information. Question and double check facts.

Now that might not tie in with a belief in Santa Claus. But a few of my most treasured stories were the ones connected to the Great Elf, himself. I interviewed Santa Claus for several times, including a visit to a library where Santa was asked for some unusual gifts.

A young girl wanted a violin for Christmas and a boy asked for a lump of “nonflammable coal” for his brother. Another young wisher admitted to asking Santa for a million dollars, a jet, and “everything in the world.” Even though his house probably couldn’t hold everything single thing in the world, he admitted.

Santa promised to try and fill the lad’s wish list.

However, there are wishes Santa can’t do anything about. He told me about the time he talked to a little one whose father had recently died. His heart broke when she asked if Santa could bring her daddy back.

Fiery Santa of the Davenport Fire Department and his lovely wife, Mrs. Claus, didn’t have the magic to cure children of sicknesses and injuries. However, having Mr. and Mrs. Claus and Sparky (the fire department’s mascot) visit provided a delightful twist in a saga of feeling ill. Children in the pediatrics ward smiled as elves passed out wonderful gifts (courtesy of the fire fighters). Trains and toy trucks and computer games and other presents, all eagerly welcomed.

After leaving the hospital, the North Pole group traveled by fire truck to a care center in Davenport. Seeing fiery Santa brightened the day just as much for the elderly residents, conjuring up memories of long ago Christmases.

A woman recalled the days when she and her husband waited until late Christmas Eve to put up the tree and wrap presents. Their children always woke up early, early on Christmas morn, leaving little sleep for mom and dad. The woman smiled as she told me she missed those days.

Another resident shared her memories of the time she and her husband were broke. Christmas was approaching and the couple despaired of being able to give their children presents. Help showed up unexpectedly, she said, when a friend repaid her husband for a loan. That $35 went a long ways towards making Christmas happy, she said.

This holiday season I am working as an elf at the mall. Being an elf – or Santa – isn’t always easy. Some youngsters turn shy when parents try to nudge them forward and I advise mom and dad to shake hands with Santa first.

One family’s Christmas photo will be termed “Grumpy family.” The kids refused to smile. The photographer ended up encouraging the parents to mirror their kids’ expression. Happy Grumpy Christmas!

Some kids run to Santa, secure that he knows them. A few give him cards and cookies. Last week Santa was presented with a sliver of cookie from a small lass who really wanted the whole thing for herself. He laughed.

So if you ask if I believe in Santa. I do.

© 2015 by Mary Louise Van Dyke. All Rights Reserved.

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