“Look Mommy, there’s Santa Claus..."
This Santa began the holiday season riding the Outlaw Country 107.5 truck in the Electric Light Parade in Española just a week or so ago and I have been busy ever since. There was the Farmers Market, then the Flea at El Museo and, finally, a stop for a snack at Flying Star in the Railyard. Of course, there were also a couple of surprise visits to the Plaza and one to Foreign Traders, tucked there in the back of DeVargas Mall. You see, Santa had to shop for something special for Mrs. Claus. There’s no worry that Mrs. Claus will see this, as she doesn’t Google too much these days, but she did take a few photos of me with children and the young at heart during some of my excursions.
If the Christmas wishes of children are any indication, these young members of the next generation are leading in their understanding of how we all need to change our outlook and live simpler with less consumerism. A few years ago it was: “I want a Nintendo DS…I want an X-Box 360… a this or a that,” with the parents standing within earshot and grimacing with “I don’t think we can afford that” looks on their faces. We have now returned to: “I want a truck…I want a Barbie.” All is right with the world, if children have adjusted their own expectations at this time of the year. We can all live simpler lives and they will lead the way. Perhaps they will grow up and show us all that we don’t HAVE TO HAVE granite counter tops and all stainless steel appliances in the very first house we own. Bless them all
The individual encounters with the little ones, were, as always, a joy to my heart. To see their eyes light up with the chance sighting of Santa is a treat for me (and they are always chance sightings, as I just show up at various locations during this time of year). We have become such a strange society that even the randomness of seeing a Santa on the street or in a location other than the mall, can be disconcerting to some. One young father asked: “How does this work? If I take a picture of you with my daughter, do I pay you or someone else.” He found it incomprehensible that there was no fee.
Oh, but the children… I can see them mouth it: “Look Mommy, there’s Santa Claus,” while tugging on a sleeve, sometimes ignored for agonizing moments. Then they either run to me for a hug or have to be encouraged to do so, as they peer out from behind the protection of their parents. The comments are also quite wonderful. One little guy asked if I knew where he lived. Of course, I answered yes; to which he replied: “Do you REALLY know where I live?” Then, there are the whispered wishes for Christmas – whispers so soft that I can barely hear them, let alone repeat loud enough for nearby parents to hear and acknowledge. You see, this Santa thing can be quite complex. Some children think that, having told the “Big Guy” what they want, it will magically appear under the tree. Problem is, they sometimes don't tell their parents the same thing and blame me when the requested item doesn't appear. So, to the best of my ability, I listen to their sweet voices and desires and repeat in a stage whisper just loud enough for parents to hear and register. Sometimes, close to Christmas Day, the parents are hearing this wish for the first time and a panicked look comes to their faces: “Where can I possibly get THAT at this last minute.” Yet, I sense that it usually all works out just fine – such is our love for the little ones.
It is also fun to see adults return to their childhood for just a moment. When you hear, an almost breathless, “Hi, Santa,” and realize it has come from a businessman in his mid-40s who has lost himself for only a moment to the holiday spirit, it makes your whole season. They usually return to businessman-mode quite quickly, but the brief snapshot of childhood is priceless, nonetheless. The best encounter so far this year with an adult was when I asked a group of women in their forties who among them was naught or nice and one of them began by responding: "But Santa, I can explain."
I'm in Oklahoma City at the moment – yes, the sleigh moves about quite a lot – and will visit the Bricktown area of downtown, which is much like our Railyard in Santa Fe. Lots of children to see as Christmas approaches.
Best wishes fo a wonderful holiday season.