I'd wanted to post Part II much earlier, but the busy-ness of the season crept up on me. Now here it is Christmas night with several more visits under my belt. This first visit, though, was special, because the children belonged to the daughter of my best friend since 6th grade. I'd known Nicole since she was just an infant growing up in the small apartment of my friend Danny and his wife, Sandra. Now here I was some 30 years later visiting her house and her children as Santa Claus. The girls are both special needs children and have a special innocence about them. The little boy has a sweet face, but also a bit of a mischievous streak making him a chip off the ol' block.
I sat in a chair by the Christmas tree as each child came to sit on my lap to tell me what they wanted for Christmas. I found myself still trying to find the appropriate level of voice for Santa and caught myself a couple of times dropping my voice to a low register. In theory, a good idea, but as I heard myself it didn't sound authentic.
The girls both were excited to show me their artwork. Little Toler brought me a small, ornament-sized, plastic nativity. Pointing to the little figure of the baby in the manger, I asked him, "Who is this?"
He looked intently at the baby then looked up at me and then replied, "His name's Warren." (One of a couple of Ho Ho Ho moments.)
The children all wanted to know about the reindeer. Where were they? Could they see them? They gave me a little plastic container of "reindeer food" to give to the reindeer. Later inspection revealed this to be instant oats with green and red colored sugar.
After some 45 minutes it was time to leave. The kids got gift bags as they again wanted to take me by the hand and lead me out. Nicole did a good job screening them from the door, so they wouldn't see me walk out to the truck.
This visit was the first visit to reveal the real magic of Santa Claus, which is found in the wonderful, loving energy of believing children. As someone who has gone on into the field of pastoral ministry it is a helpful reminder that these qualities also work magic in adults as well.