Santa Claus. You may know him. He is also known as Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas or just plain Santa. Our modern Santa is based on the traditions of old St. Nick, a fourth century Greek Bishop and giver of gifts, as well as the British version Father Christmas. Santa’s place in history is well established.
I know him as very jolly, with a white beard, small spectacles and wearing a red velvet suit with beautiful white fur trim. He lives at the North Pole and has a workshop there where he employs elves to help him create and assemble toys and games. I am pretty sure he keeps a list of all children that tracks their naughty and nice behavior throughout the year. All well-behaved children receive gifts from him each Christmas morning. He seems to be a forgiving man.
This year at Thanksgiving I was having a conversation with my oldest brother. We were talking about Christmas Eve 1957 or 1958 when we lived in Fairfield, CT. I was shocked to learn that he too saw Santa Claus flying through the air with his sled and eight famous reindeer that night. I have known since then that I saw him. For sure. I don’t bring it up much. Who would? But now I know it’s true. It’s like when two people see the same UFO. You can confirm it! We saw Santa Claus. It made me feel vindicated and happy.
This weekend I took my youngest grandson, Owen, to Rodale Institute in Kutztown, PA. They were having a winter festival and we thought it would be a nice drive to the country, away from the holiday shopping crowds.
When we arrived we parked the car and talked about how it seemed cold enough to snow. No sooner had we finished our short conversation and little flurries started falling from the sky. It felt kind of magical and we looked at each other in that knowing way, where you don’t have to say anything but your thoughts tumble out. Magic!
As we walked toward the little shop we noticed Santa Claus sitting in an old sleigh out in the yard. Owen grabbed for my hand and slowed his pace. He said, “Hey Grammy, let’s go in the store first.” I sensed his hesitation about going to meet Santa and we headed into the store to browse. When we had browsed thoroughly we headed out. Once again he grabbed my hand and steered me in the opposite direction of Santa. We found ourselves at the organic hot chocolate table and ordered one.
Looking for a place to sit we found benches around a roaring fire pit, situated about 15 yards from Santa. Owen made it clear that he wasn’t interested in going over to the sleigh to meet Santa but he was enjoying watching him from a distance. Occasionally a small child would be lifted into the sleigh to sit with Santa and we watched as he talked with them. He seemed very interested in what they had to say, spending a good amount of time with each child.
Soon the short line was empty and we watched as Santa climbed down out of the sleigh. He started slowly walking in our direction and stopped at the fire pit, warming his hands. Not looking at us he said, “sure is cold today, isn’t it?” Owen stiffened a little next to me and I answered that yes it was cold. We started a little conversation and eventually he asked if it was ok if he sat down on the bench with us. Owen, eyes averted, nodded yes. Then there we were. The three of us sitting on a bench by the fire talking about Christmas, the weather, about friends and elves and favorite toys, especially Legos. Owen told him all about his friend Roman and they both agreed Roman might make a good elf someday. As Owen and Santa continued their conversation I noticed a few children lining up at the sleigh to meet Santa. Santa saw them too but he hadn’t finished his conversation with Owen yet and seemed in no hurry. He was busy telling Owen how he had made a birdhouse out of Legos that was later destroyed by squirrels! They have squirrels at the North Pole!
When it was time to leave and let Santa get back to his sleigh and the waiting children, we wished each other a very Merry Christmas and then Santa winked at me. He had a real twinkle in his eye. I saw it. Owen was silent on the walk back to the car. When he was all buckled in he said, “Santa Claus is real Grammy, and he is very nice.”
I met Santa Claus on Saturday and he was as real as real can be.
I hope your holiday season is filled with magic!
Love, Melissa (aka Grammy)