Saturday, December 5, 2009

Early Sleighride

My hubby the Real Santa Claus, has started his yearly visits. From now until Christmas Eve, he will make numerous visits, some to day cares and schools, some to church groups, some just to individual houses. His favorite is the house visits. Nothing compares to walking into a house and seeing the astonished faces and hearing the cries of glee that, "Santa thinks I'm special enough to get an early visit!" He takes every child on his lap, listens to their list, and gives them a bag of candy, then disappears into the night.

Some of his visits are heart-breaking. He's visited child cancer victims, victims of house fires, children with nothing. Usually, if he comes across a needy family, he connects them with a group that can give them a leg up. We've been known to dig in our own pockets sometimes, just so some kids can have Christmas. A quick trip to the discount store can turn into happiness for a child that might not have a Christmas. It doesn't take much.

He doesn't discriminate-some families are poor, some are wealthy. Santa loves them all (just like Jesus). I'll never forget the year we got an anonymous $100 gift certificate to a swanky restaurant. We never did find out for sure who did that, but that was the year he went to the home of a couple who were both physicians, so we kind of think that's where it came from. The Manhattan Fire Department always gives us a check to help cover expenses, but most of it comes out of our own pockets. Usually, the people who can afford it give Santa a bit of money and the businesses pay him, of course, so we always come out even if not a bit ahead. He never asks for payment, but says that whatever they want to give to cover expenses is just fine, if they can afford it. Usually we reap the benefits of his visits in the form of a steakhouse gift certificate or two and that's enough-it adds just the right amount of specialness to an already special time.

His treat bag consists of peanuts, gummy bears, M & M's, a candy cane and an apple. The first thing the kids usually eat is the apple, believe it or not!

He's been asked several times to be a Santa at the local mall, but turns that down. He wants his visits to be special and tries to limit the number of "commercial" visits he does. He is such a perfect Santa that people urge him to go to New York to be a Santa at someplace like Macy's, but he just says, "No, I'd miss my 'kids' too much."

He's on his second suit-I've made both of them. I made the last one last year-what a messy job with all that fur!

He's been doing this since about 1986, when someone asked him to be Santa for the Belgrade Christmas stroll, since he had "the look." Back then he had to spray white coloring on his beard, but age took care of that, and he is totally natural now.

I'm so proud of what he does-isn't this what Christmas is really all about?

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