I pulled up the red felt pants fully equipped with fluffy white trim and the answer was yes, I would need a pillow. Stuffing my bowl full of jelly and donning the coat I started to feel the spirit of ole Saint Nick. The transformation was not yet complete. The beard. Santa’s beard is probably the most iconic of all the beards in history. But the beard is not complete without the hat. It all goes together. I grow nervous. I want to deliver…for the kids. I finish with the details of reading glasses and white gloves. They must not know. As I approach the front door butterflies and perhaps a couple misplaced sugarplums kick around in my gut. The door swings open and a very merry voice leaves my head. The Clause accent is somewhere between my own baritone loud and slips a little into Ron Burgundy, you must use what you know. I see the kids. It’s a small party, only a half dozen of the little bandits. The surprise and joy in their faces is shocking to me and I lose all of myself and become Santa Clause for the first time. As I sit in “the” chair and the first few kids approach I start to think to myself, “this could be a calling…maybe not now but perhaps when I get older… I could be Santa every year… Malls? Parties? Whatever, I could do this…” Then a girl named Emme’s gift came out of the bag. I called her name, in my sweetest voice. I eyed her in the crowd and she spun quickly towards Mom. She did not want anything to do with me??? I don’t understand??? Her Mom carried her up to Santa’s lap but no way. She was not having it. Terrified or so I thought, Emme left Santa’s thrown and left me with doubts. That’s one out of six kids that had a bad experience. Multiply that by thousands of kids public Santas see every year and that is a bunch of scared little ones. A few years ago this actually may have appealed to me. I always loved watching kids get scared at Halloween time, so what’s different? Oh yeah, there was one last gift in the bag. “Piper? Where is Piper?” Stephanie carried up my little one and she sat for a moment or two, enough for some pictures and I think the moment overwhelmed her a little, she fussed but didn’t completely lose it. That’s right, the difference is that I am a Dad. I could see Piper in Emme’s terrified little face. I haven’t grown softer, I just care more. And they say, “that the Grinch’s (mine) small heart grew three sizes that day…”

What a great night and experience. Will I do it again? Only time will tell but I did see Christmas through new eyes that night and the view was pretty awesome…

Oh yeah and Emme… Later she was asked why she was scared of Santa and she explained, “I wasn’t scared. I just thought Santa only said “Ho Ho Ho” and he was saying a lot of other words…” She was only confused…

A big thanks to Carolyn Munson (mom-in-law) for giving me the opportunity.

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