Time for another trip to my exciting past. Or, we could re-visit my *regular* past, and just remember that I don’t really have an *exciting* past to visit. Or…… okokok, I’ll quit.
Last Christmas season, I discovered that Kate (my somewhat NEW wife, as of August), really really really loved Christmas. And, I pretty much did, too – just one more point of compatibility, yes? Anyway, we love the holiday season, and also, btw, Kate is quite the seamstress. A non-sequitur, you say? Non, non! She asked me if I’d like to have a Santa suit to wear occasionally, perhaps to holiday gatherings at the extended care facility (nursing home, kinda) where she worked in Denver. Well, Pilgrim, I didn’t see anything wrong with THAT plan, I tell ya! So, I said, “Let ‘er rip, Tater Chip!” And, Presto, I had a Santa costume. No gigs lined up yet, but I had the Christmas finery, just in case. Now you talk about ‘Sartorial Splendor’, I had mega amounts of THAT! She said she’d talk to the head honcho where she worked, try to work out a deal for me to appear at their Christmas party – oh, YEAH!
We got the approval, and party time at the nursing facility finally came. I showed up at the appointed time, and was just blown away by the warm reception that I received. Lots of (generally) elderly people in poor health whose faces had lit up at seeing Santa. Lots of wheelchairs, lots of obviously sick folks, all of them smiling, smiling. It was wonderful to see their transformation! I shook lots of hands on my way up to the front of the cafeteria area where we were set up, and really had a nice feeling of being able to bring a little fun into their lives, a little visit to the Christmases of their childhoods, perhaps. They let me give out gifts (everything was packaged and name-tagged), and my Santa nurse/helpers assisted in the distribution. We enjoyed some punch and cookies, shook (carefully) some more hands – sometimes it was just a gentle squeeze of the shoulder, but you get the picture.
After the general get-together at the cafeteria, I was taken to a number of the patient rooms to visit those who had not been able to make it down the hall. Again, very heart-warming to see their expectant faces, so happy to see Santa again. Some of them were not able to respond so well, but it was ok – I think they knew that something nice was going on, and I left their presents with them. I look forward to doing that kind of thing again, as I’m sure anyone would. It was touching, rewarding, it was truly the best of the Christmas spirit. No, it wasn’t about delivering the message of the Christ Child specifically, but the gladness came through.
So, about a week later, I was sitting by myself at a coffee shop (not in costume, of course) and an older fellow (yes, he was in *my* age group) came over to me and asked, “Say, do you ever do that ‘Santa thing’?” I guess I do kinda look the part, so I wasn’t totally surprised by his question. So, I replied, “Yes, occasionally”. He then asked if I’d consider suiting up and coming over to his house in a couple of days and appearing in the evening as Santa for his family, with several grandkids in attendance, and how much would I ask in payment. “Well, ” I replied, “I’d be happy to come, and how about *free*?”. He insisted that he’d want to pay me something, so I said, “How about $20?”. The deal was made, and I showed up at the appointed time, and as an extra ‘bonus’, Kate had dressed up as ‘Mrs. Santa’.
We found the fellow’s house and made our grand entrance. The place was full of relatives, 4 or 5 kids of various ages running about… yer basic holiday home scene. I did the “Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas” greeting several times and we commenced with the kids-on-the-knee photo session. It was just great – the kids were ‘wow-ed’, the adults were smiling, smiling, smiling and we were pretty much in the same mode. A super time was had by all, and as we wrapped it up and left, the client pressed some money into my hand and we made our exit. When I got to the car I discovered that he had given me $50 – a pleasant surprise, for sure!
I turned to Kate, said, “Let’s go have supper, using our newly-acquired wealth!” She agreed, and we wound up over at the nearby Chili’s. As we entered, in full costume, we were warmly received by many of the patrons as we were led to our table. Lots of kids were awe-struck, seeing us approach, but quickly began to smile at us and shyly wave. We made a number of brief stops as we went, just greeting families, and finally made it to our table. After we ordered, I had time to go visit some of the little people whom I’d missed on my way in, and a few of the adults were motioning me to come to *their* table. It was just super-great, it was wonderful. As we were finishing our meal, the manager stopped by and thanked us profusely for coming in, and he informed us that our ticket was ‘on the house’. He mentioned that several people had come by his station offering to pay our tab, but he said that it would be his pleasure to take care of it.
So that’s Santa’s story about last Christmas. This Christmas might prove to be somewhat memorable, also – the City of Corydon has asked me to be the official Santa Claus this year, and on November 27th I’ll be down at the town square, being the guest of honor at “Light Up Corydon” – I’ll be helping with the official countdown to the illumination of the city holiday lights.
Here’s a link to a YouTube video that was made last year at this event, so if you care to watch, you’ll get some idea of the flavor of our small town and its holiday tradition. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpjEJl9DUE4 I’m really looking forward to it. The following three Saturday’s you’ll find me inside the State Capitol there on the square, appearing as Santa Claus for the kids to come visit and have their photos done. Does it get ANY better than this??? 🙂