the Real Santa or just a helper?

The line was moving slowly and Max and Zach were not moving slowly, as usual. How crazy is it to stand in a line for a half hour just to see a man sitting in a chair? On the way to the mall we had a long talk about the difference between the real Santa and his many helpers. We had prepared the boys to meet one of his helpers–there are so many malls these days. At one point Ron left with both of the boys for a potty run and I was left in the line by myself for ten minutes. It was funny to stand in line alone and when they returned, Zach had been leaning against the split rail fence in the mall. The rough wood had left a million or so pulls in his sweater which were going to be seen in the photograph. This was the first time he had worn this sweater. I repaired those and we were back to waiting . Finally we were next. Zach peered around the corner and turned back and said to us, It is really him. It’s really Santa. One of his assistants ushered us toward Santa. Max and Zach sat on Santa’s lap. As the photographer finished printing pictures of the child in front of us, I could tell Max and Zach were talking to Santa. They were laughing and carrying on. The photographer told me that as long as we were buying a photo (at the mall price) we could snap a few of our own while they worked. I took a few pictures, but was moreinterested in hearing the conversation that was going on. Then I saw Zach lift Santa’s beard and examine the connection between the whiskers and skin. Santa said, “see, it’s real. It’s really me.”

Quickly the photographer returned and to our surprise, the first image was a keeper. As the boys left Santa, they said, “thanks,” and “we love you.” Santa motioned to Ron and I and shook each of our hands. He looked us dead in the eye and said, “Merry Christmas and God bless you. You have a dear family–very special.” To say I was taken back is an understatement. I’m not sure what I expected him to say. Something more like, “order package A of the prints for $139.95;” certainly not, “God Bless you and your dear family.” I was so moved. I smiled and said, “God bless you, Santa. Thank you.”

Okay here’s the thing, he really had a twinkle in his eye. As I shook his hand, I thought about our drive to the mall and about Zach’s questions. I told Zach I’m not sure maybe he’s a helper and the real one was busy at the North Pole. Is he the real one? As I stood face to face with Santa, I wasn’t convinced that he wasn’t and I am still wondering today.

As we drove away, Zach said, “you know he’s the real one, mom.” I asked what they had talked about. Max let me know what he told Santa that he wanted–band instruments, so when his friends come over they can play. Goodness, start the therapy fund!! Zach said, “well I asked him how do you get skinny?” “What do you mean Zach,” I asked. “You know mom, how does he get skinny to get down the chimney.” Santa told me, “it’s magic, I can’t tell you.” Max made sure he knew wewill be visiting grandparents on the all-important day and to make sure our toys get to the right house. I assured the boys we’d leave him a reminder note.

I don’t know where you are this season or if you’ve visited Santa, yet. Let me just say, he is real and he can still speak to us. Maybe your conversation will hold an unexpected blessing, like mine did. Santa, who sometimes is the symbol for every commercial message that we hits us during this season, reminded me that he knew what the focus of the season is and should be. It’s about faith and family. The birth of the Christ child in our hearts again this year. May you be surprised again and let the mystery of Christmas come into focus. Rest assured that there is no place where God’s truth and message cannot find you, even in the mall.

The last thing Zach wanted to know was if Santa could see through our skin to our bones–an X-ray kind of vision. Max told him, “no, that’s Superman.” It is so easy to get mixed up this time of year.

God bless you and Merry Christmas! I like you and love you, Celia

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