It has been a while since I have posted, so I wanted to share something that I have been doing that is mixed with joy and sadness.
For the last 18 years during the holidays my family and I do something special for the neighbors and their children. For the second year we converted our backyard into a haunted walk in which you entered on one side walked to the back of the yard, around and out the other side.
This year it was a zombie theme and I was blessed with my older children and 12 other volunteers participating as characters. In fact if Maureen O’Hearn lived closer to us I would love to have and her excellent make-up on the team. Next year clowns seem to be the theme.
But after Halloween was over and Thanksgiving weekend was upon us I began our annual ritual of light hanging, which takes about four days to completion. But to add to this we decided I would play Santa Claus for the three weekends before Christmas.
So we set up our Santa Grotto, I donned the infamous red suit, turned on the lights and Christmas music, and the stage was set.
I thought how hard could this be, saying hi to the little ones and sharing their excitement with them.
Well, it turns out I have gotten more than I envisioned when I began this adventure. Allow me to share a bit of my experience.
In a country where everywhere you turn Christmas is being frowned upon and being silenced all for the greater good of our now confused and lost society I found the following quite interesting and insightful.
For one many parents or adults if you will have visited me as Santa enjoying the opportunity to share a moment with Santa, taking a picture, chat a bit, and all for the price of ZERO.
Many adults came without kids and as couples of which I found interesting.
Children, many I might add have visited and I have heard all of the standard requests that the little ones make, but one really stood out tonight in the crowd.
This wonderful little lady came up to me with enthusiasm and urgency. As in all cases I asked her name, informed her she was good all year and then asked what she wanted for Christmas.
“Do you know what you want for Christmas?” I asked.
“Yes Santa, I would like to have food for my family and some new clothes,” she responded.
That was it.
This left me speechless for a moment, thought about it and responded.
I regrouped, explained that was a very special request and had to work on this one for her.
Once gone I took a moment and shared this with all of the friends visiting and my wife and five kids, they were all distressed or saddened by her special request.
Then a bit later I had a visit from a young boy of 10 which is recovering from a bone marrow transplant. All appears good, but in his case I had to walk out to the car to chat with him. As it turned out he suddenly gained the desire and energy to get out of the car, with mom and friends watching and insisted to have a picture taken with me in my little grotto.
The young boy of 10 left happy and excited; he got to see Santa, a few pictures taken and was able to avoid the dreaded crowds of the mall.
OK, so many who abhor the idea of Christmas will say “So What?” or some other cynical statement shielding themselves from the other realities of life.
But there is an element of loss for many families, loss that all who visited were grateful that someone would take the time to listen to their kids’ dreams and wishes, offer photo’s for them to remember, both young and old, and entertain a moment with adults alone or with families without embarrassment or concern. More often than not my daughter was asked why are we doing this, and for free, and our answer was simple, “because we wanted to.”
No one really understood this.
As a rule, in the media you always hear of the famous person visiting kids in hospitals around this time of year, you hear of sales, which now shadow some holidays into a blur, you see the behavior and frustration of shopping, and of course the lawsuits from those demanding their petty little rights.
To add to the sadness of this holiday you see the horrors of loss in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, politics once again raging over gun control, and not the real element “Humanity.”
But during all of this no one really sees the individual seeking a bit of joy and happiness at the end of another dismal year for many.
In closing I do not like Christmas for many reasons, but this year has been a bit enjoyable knowing that I have met many who still believe in Christmas, Santa Claus and the mystery and magic involved with the holiday.
If you are wealthy or on limited income always remember there are those in this country that have lost their way, and their children still struggle to hang onto the dreams and magic associated with childhood.
Always keep the spirit in your heart and soul.