A visit with a jolly old St. Nick
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Santa Claus was paying a little visit to Blue Earth last week. I found him hiding out at Southview Estates.
There he was, complete with bright red shirt, enjoying a smoke on his famous pipe, and soaking up a little of the unusually warm and sunny Minnesota October day.
I chatted with him a bit, and commented on how much he looked like the famous Kris Kringle. I asked if he ‘played’ Santa a lot.
He leaned forward and with a twinkle in his eyes, said, I don’t ‘play’ Santa, I ‘am’ Santa.
But he told me not to worry, I was still on the ‘nice’ list, despite doing a few borderline ‘naughty’ things throughout the year.
That was good to know. It’s pretty hard for us editors to stay on everyone’s ‘nice’ list for very long.
I had to ask why on earth he was at Southview Estates in Blue Earth, and he replied that he was visiting his mother-in-law for a few days before the ‘busy season’ starts.
Really? Mrs. Claus’s mother lives in Blue Earth?
Then he said his name was ‘Charlie’ (what a fake sounding alias – what’s wrong with ‘Kris’) and his mother-in-law was Helen Johnston. Sure.
He lives in Missouri, where he and his wife operate an internet business.
An internet toy business, I’ll bet.
He admits that with the white hair and beard and the round belly, it is hard to disguise his ‘true’ identity when traveling. That’s why he wears those sunglasses, I suppose.
Sometimes children come up to him and ask if he is Santa. (Sometimes inquisitive adult newspaper editors ask him the same thing.)
He tells them yes, but swears them to secrecy.
Often the kids want to tell him something, and it is not what they want for Christmas. It is something that is going on in their lives, good or bad. Or they want to know how the elves and reindeers are doing.
Some of them want to give him a hug. And, despite the fact that society these days has a thing about kids and strangers, he obliges them.
What kid these days doesn’t need a hug from Santa, he asks me.
Santa (a.k.a. Charlie) remarks that the kids hardly ever seem to notice that he is sitting in a powered wheel chair. He doesn’t think children are as cognizant of handicaps as adults are.
I had noticed. I wondered if it was the result of some sort of sleigh accident.
Nope. Turns out it was a stroke.
Perhaps it was the result of the pipe smoking or the eating a million cookies all in one night each year.
My visit with Charlie reminded me of two things.
One, Christmas is fast approaching. This time of year there is Halloween the end of October, followed quickly by Thanksgiving the end of November and then Christmas a month later. Life seems to get very busy this time of year.
The other thing he reminded me of is this.
No matter how busy we all get, we need to always remember to keep that ‘twinkle’ in our eye. And, put a smile on the face of everyone we meet.