Hatcher’s Stocking III

One of the families was a mother with her child, probably around age 2 or 3. He was very unsure of Santa, so she explained she would sit next to him and hold him. This seemed to work. After I took the picture of them, she reminded her son he should tell Santa what he wanted for Christmas under the tree. He wanted to tell him SO bad, but you could still sense his hesitation. The mom whispered in his ear. “Tell Santa about the bike you want”. That was it; he knew he HAD to let Santa know. He wanted this bike too much! And so he did. Santa engaged with him, asking about the color he wanted, and after they chatted a bit, he was all in! In fact, Santa became his new best friend. He kept running over to him all by himself while other families were lined up for their pictures. It didn’t matter to him that others were around Santa, HE knew Santa personally, and now no one would stand in his way! That’s the connection Santa can only hope for. And when he showed him his picture of Dasher, I knew without a doubt that this little guy was the recipient of his own Dasher photo. It’s never difficult for Santa to make that call; it all happens seamlessly.

As this little boy was running around now all confident again, we continued with snapping family photos. There wasn’t one crying baby in this group tonight. A man came up to me and asked how long Santa and I would be there. Well, however long we need to be, I told him. His family was en route to the church and was hoping to get a family photo. I assured him we would not leave until they arrived and were photographed. We thought he and his family were the only ones left to see. But just then, a young woman, maybe in her thirties, came up to see Santa. She had the most beautiful smile, and her hair was long and curly, and I complimented it. She had a strong accent and gingerly asked if it was okay if she had a picture with Santa. We could tell she felt embarrassed to ask. Of course, I said! As I continually explain to so many adults, Santa takes as many pictures with adults by themselves as he does with families and with children. She seemed so surprised, but then Santa patted his knee, and she giggled and said I can sit on Santa’s lap??!! Of course, he said you’re never too old for that. She was like a giggly teenager and explained to Santa he was the only second Santa in her life she had ever interacted with. She was in absolute heaven, so happy and so carefree for that moment in time.

Just then, the man’s family, who had been en route, had arrived. A young mother with her newborn and a toddler. The other woman jumped off Santa’s lap as if she knew her time was over; she had resorted to her childhood long enough. We thanked her, but it was she who was truly the most thankful one. She felt we had given her a very special personal gift. It was such a simple gift from us but priceless for her. There was a story there behind her beautiful smile; I knew it, and it was so cool to be a part of witnessing it.

We took pictures of the family. The baby was perfectly behaved until the pictures were over, and then he decided to spit up. Perfect timing! Then Santa and I went up to the front of the church, where all the Christmas trees were lit, and did a video of Blake, Brittney, and their children. Santa wants to start doing videos of these intimate connections we are so grateful to experience. What better family to have on his first video than Blake, Brittney, and their family. It was beautiful, not scripted, just from the heart. We hugged goodbye, and both felt we had known them for years.

We left saying goodbye and thanking all the volunteers, young and old. We may never see any of them again. But boy, did they make an imprint on our hearts, if only for one night. We got into Santa’s red truck. It was dark, and we had an hour to drive back home. As I looked out the window, the lights in the side mirror caught my eye. They blinked red and yellow, then blue and green, then all the colors at once blinking on and off. This was how Santa’s truck was decorated. Santa has to drive a special vehicle to spread Christmas magic. I looked out the front window, where you could see the reindeer antlers attached to the front grill. Santa had made it himself with an old set of palm fronds. He had stained them several times, varnished them to protect against the elements while driving, and attached a big 5” red nose in the middle. We always got thumbs up from people walking by or driving by. It was an unusual decoration, but then again, he’s Santa, after all! Santa needs to drive the coolest decorated red truck! We were both tired and hungry. We didn’t talk a whole lot on the way home. I know I was processing the events of the evening, as I’m sure Santa was as well. It was another Santa gig completed. But not just any gig. Actually, there hasn’t been any gig that is just a mediocre one. Each one of the 25 we have committed to are so rewarding and so unique. This was no different. But each time I think our experiences and connections made are amazing and surely cannot be topped, another one comes around, and new amazing memories and experiences are made. Tomorrow night will be another Santa gig. I relaxed in the blinking of the lights as I felt assurance it would be so special as well.

Merry Christmas!

Mrs. Claus