Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My letter to Santa Claus

It has been a lot of years since I last wrote a letter to Santa Claus but this year I think I may do just that. My letter this year will not be like the letters of my childhood, which included long lists of toys and presents I hoped to receive and, of course, my assurance that I had been good enough to deserve them! No, this letter will be a little different.
I suppose I should explain a little. You see, my family is blessed enough to have found the real Santa Claus and to have been photographed with him for the past 12 Christmases. Now I know the real Santa is very busy this time of year but somehow he has found a little time to sneak away from the North Pole to visit sunny Florida. He comes to an upscale shopping district in Tampa, FL known as Hyde Park Village. It is about 45 minutes from our house and we discovered he was there when our oldest child was only three months old. He is real in every way possible. He has real round cheeks, a real round belly, real white curly hair, and a real long white beard. His clothes are not the traditional red suit with a big black belt and big black boots. Instead, he wears a Victorian style long flowing robe , in a deep shade of crimson and lined with fur. He looks exactly like I picture St. Nicholas would look. Everything about him is authentic and beautiful. He smiles cheerily when greeting the children and spends time with each of them. He is genuinely interested in making them feel special. Every year it is one of our most special traditions to make the 45 minute drive to spend just a few minutes with this wonderful man. And every year he is there. Every year we have seen him. Every year we have sat our children on his lap and had them photographed. Every year they have shared with him their hopes and wishes (except, of course, that year or two when each of them were toddlers and terrified to even get near him!) Every year, for the past twelve years, it has been the same man with the same real white beard and infectious smile.
Last year, because he has been so special to us and such a part of our Christmas traditions, I brought along a scrapbook album I have been keeping of just our Santa Claus pictures. Imagine his surprise as he flipped through the book and saw our children, and our family, grow and seeing that he has been such a special part of it all. He was so impressed with the album and had us show it to Mrs. Claus, who was, thankfully, along that afternoon. We talked for a few extra minutes last year just to let him know how much he means to us.
This year, as all seven of us filed into the tiny store front where his big red chair was set up, his eyes lit up in recognition. We all squeezed in for our photograph and the children proceeded to give him their lists. Then he looked at Tim and I, with real tears glistening in the corners of his eyes and told us how special it is to him that we come back every year to see him. He told us we are the only family that he has seen every year and that it means so much to him to see us and watch the children grow. He, then, turned to our oldest daughter, the now tall and lanky eleven year old who first sat on his lap as a tiny bald baby, he took her hands in his and thanked her for coming. His eyes, still moist, looked into hers and he encouraged her to keep believing.
Now, I know that the tradition of Santa Claus is not the holiest way to celebrate the birth of our Lord but I can assure you the spirit of Christmas was never more alive than in that tiny little store front as we shared a few minutes with that beautiful man. He truly made us feel special and I believe we did the same for him. We shared the love of Christ and the joy of the season just by sharing our true gratitude and love for each other.
As it turns out, Santa has a business card. We picked it up and were happy to see he has a local address, only about 45 minutes from the shopping district (in the opposite direction of us). So, I think I may write him a quick letter to really thank him for all that he means to us, to tell him he is in our prayers, and to wish him the very merriest of Christmases. I pray, also, that all of you reading this may be as blessed as we are to truly know the love of Christ, the generosity of others and the joy of the season this year.

1 comment:

  1. Kari, that was beautiful. You brought tears to my eyes. What a special gift you and your family share with this special Santa.



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