|Yesterday, I took a little stroll through Corpus Christi. Of course, it’s not unusual for me to drive around town. But it is different when I’m dressed as Santa.|
A group from our church met in the morning to make some preparations for Christmas Eve. I helped a little. Then I disappeared, only to return as jolly St. Nick. I had planned to stand outside and wave at the cars. The idea came to me a couple of weeks ago at a children’s event. I walked outside from my office to the building where the event was. In that short walk, about five people honked at me.
They were all smiles.
So, yesterday, I stood outside and waved.
It didn’t take longer than a minute for a couple to walk by and talk to me. They smiled and said something about not knowing they were going to get to see Santa today. I told them I was glad to see them. Then I asked, “How are you?”
“Oh, Santa,” one of them replied. “The days are a struggle and at night it’s worse.” Santa doesn’t Ho-Ho-Ho to that. Lesson one: Just because you’re ready for Christmas doesn’t mean everyone else is. In fact, getting ready should include reaching out to those who feel the struggle of life.
After about forty-five minutes, I packed up and went to the meat market. We’re grilling on Christmas Day! All eyes drew to Santa walking through the door as if they’ve never seen him in a meat market before. I can tell you for sure the little girl that approached me hadn’t. Her father asked if I would take a picture. As I knelt down, her smile grew.
But I had some fajitas and steaks to buy. As Mrs. Claus and I looked around, the little girl followed me. She had all kinds of questions about pork chops, my beard and snowmen. The more I answered, the more she followed. Lesson two: Wonder is a doorway.
Then I went to deliver a few gifts to church members. Lesson three: No one expects Santa to show up unannounced. Surprise people with joy.
I realized I needed to buy Communion elements for Christmas Eve. So, after delivering gifts, I went to get them. What? No one’s ever seen Santa struggling to take his wallet and keys out of his Santa pockets? As I was leaving, with bag and receipt in hand, a little girl saw me as she and her mother entered the store. Her mother said they hadn’t seen Santa yet and asked if I would take a picture.
When I first faced her mom’s camera, the girl latched onto me, laughing as she buried her face in Santa’s belly. The little girl had Down syndrome. I only mention that because it was another great reminder. It’s easy for us to judge people by their supposed weaknesses. How much could they offer? we might think. In God’s kingdom, that’s a silly question. Lesson four: The greatest of these is love!
My final stop before heading home was to the mechanic’s shop. Santa’s sleigh has some issues. I’m pretty sure I interrupted a party the owner had for his employees. So, I did my best to get in and get out. Lesson five: Be a blessing, not a bother.
Then I made my way home.
As I was driving, people waved and honked–I think it was because they saw Santa. It was fun. It’s that split second when someone realizes they’re seeing Santa and they smile. As I was driving, something felt funny about Santa’s boots. I thought there was something stuck on the floorboard. I couldn’t get to it because the belly and extra facial hair didn’t let me.
When I walked inside, I noticed one of the soles started coming unglued. Lesson six: Sharing joy can be tiring and can wear you out. So, take care of yourself.
The biggest lesson I take away every Christmas season is this. Don’t let the joy we share and experience this time of year fade. People are still struggling after Christmas. People need to know love every day. You don’t have to be Santa to be a blessing.
Just be who God created you to be. Merry Christmas!