What do the four have in common? I’ll get to that But I want to start with drunks, yoga pants, and children. The three things that ALWAYS tell the truth.
When Elizabeth was about four years old we had just taken her to the Polaris Mall in Columbus, Ohio to have her photograph taken with Santa. Now a few days later we were in a different mall. I stood holding my daughter’s hand looking at another mall Santa pondering the dilemma I was now in. What would I say to my daughter when she realized this Santa and the other Santa were two different people?
I was deep in thought with no answer in sight when my daughter pulled my hand. I looked down at her, “Yes, Sweetheart?”
“That Santa,” she pointed to the new Santa. “He is a helper Santa. The other Santa is the REAL Santa.”
Wow, I escaped that one.
Over the years we always took Elizabeth to the Polaris Mall for a photograph with Santa, and it was always the same Santa. I noticed something else over the years though (Elizabeth is 11 now). The Santa at Polaris Mall was always Santa, even when he was on break not wearing his Santa suit. Kids would spot him and yank on mom or dad’s hand and point. This man, whether taking his lunch or doing his own shopping never stepped out of character.
Once he was doing his own shopping (out of costume) and I saw him walk out of a store while he was on break. He had the effect you would imagine Santa would have on kids. And though he was not wearing a Santa suit he did have on a red sweatshirt with the words “I could be…”.
As Elizabeth grew older and older I paid more attention to this one mall Santa when we went to the mall at Christmas time. Not once did I ever see him be anyone but Santa Claus – to everyone! Kids, moms, dads, half a dozen college girls getting their picture taken with Santa, it did not matter who they were, he is Santa. He is the same whether mom and dad are buying a photograph or not. Every person who crosses his path gets his undivided attention, the undivided attention of Santa Claus.
Now tell me – just how cool is that? We all talk about trying to be fair and just to those around us, but we all screw up from time to time. But, Santa Claus? He just cares about one thing. Have you been good this year? No matter the age, no matter the religion, boy or girl, rich or poor, Santa just wants to know if you have been good this year. And after looking into Santa’s eyes while we were at Polaris, I think he would make an excuse even if you had been bad and STILL given you a present.
By the time Elizabeth started school she decided that no one gave Santa Christmas gifts so she would. Long story short, every year since then she gave Santa a gift certificate for lunch.
Elizabeth is 11 now, and I do not know how many more trips we will have to see the real Santa who works at the Polaris mall. I live in Kansas now and Elizabeth is getting older. So when I picked her up for Christmas this year I said, “Let’s go get our picture taken with Santa.”
We got there and waited our turn. Then we both sat on one of the chair arms of his chair. After our photo he asked Elizabeth what she wanted for Christmas and actually spent quite a bit of time with her.
Then I did what I always do, I told a story. I told Santa how this beautiful daughter of mine saved my butt when she was four years old by telling me that this man. This man we just had our photograph with who was now listening to me with the same attention he gave to my daughter – is the REAL Santa Claus and the others are helper Santas.
I got up to leave and this white glove hand thrust up at me. “Thank you for telling me that.”
I looked into his eyes, and at that moment I realized Elizabeth is right. This man is the real Santa Claus. Year after year I have watched this man be all the qualities of the spirit of Christmas and have not seen him falter even once. He shares the love of the spirit of Christmas with everyone who crosses his path. And everyone who walks away from him, from 8 to 80, walks away with a smile on their face and a lightness in their step.
Is there any greater gift a man can give to the world?
As you are reading this Santa is back at the North Pole and probably asleep already. Elizabeth and I want to wish each of you a very Merry Christmas. We hope that the year 2017 will be the year your most desired dream will come true. Peace to you and yours.
So, without further ado, here is our photograph with the REAL Santa Claus.
Joe and Elizabeth Combs with Santa Claus.
Daddy telling Santa Claus a story.