As I wrote a little while back (Grinch and Bear It, or The Turn of the Scrooge; 12/9/18), I’m not a Christmas guy. I won’t rehash it all here. You can go back and read all about it.
Anyway, last week two co-workers and I took a couple of clients to visit Santa. Watching the kiddos’ interactions with the big guy was a wonder to behold, and it stoked the holiday embers a bit in my soul. I could have watched our two little friends interact with him all day. But we had to move on.
After the kids said their goodbyes and merry Christmases to Santa, I shook his hand and told him how much I appreciated the patience and compassion he had for our clients. He gave a firm hand shake and looked me right in the eye.
“I’m glad to do it, Ethan,” he said. “I hope you have a merry Christmas.”
A little wave of vertigo washed over me.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “What did you say?”
Santa smiled. He was having fun.
“Have a merry Christmas, Mr. Dezotelle. I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday.”
What was happening?
He chuckled. Not exactly a “Ho ho ho,” but it was certainly jolly.
I tried to apply logic, but for a moment, a dash of that old Christmas magic from childhood crept in.
Maybe it’s all true.
Then I settled down and took a good, hard look at Santa. He raised his fuzzy eyebrows. Recognition set in, and he laughed some more.
“Santa!” I said. “Of course I know you.”
And I did. Back about 25 years ago, I used to buy my weekly comic books from Santa during his off-season. A side venture away from the North Pole. I hadn’t seen him in probably 12 or 13 years.
“Can I give you a hug?” Santa asked.
“You bet you can,” I said.
As we hugged, I saw my client, his eyes round and big as half dollars. He was struck by the magic too.
I thanked Santa again, said how great it was to see him, and he moved on to the other kids in line.
As we walked away, I tingled all over. I thought about that split second when I was overcome by the wonder of it all. Santa knew me? How could that be? It was a fleeting thing, but in that moment, I was unencumbered by anxiety, depression, the cynicism that comes with adulthood.
I was a kid again for a blink of an eye.
And it was enough.