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Santa Doug Billings

Santa for Awhile

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Santa Doug Billings

Santa for Awhile

Unpublished © 2018 Douglas Billings

            I didn’t ‘officially’ don the red suit until last year, after I returned from the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School. I had portrayed Santa Claus for a small local country church for a few years before, but I had to borrow the cheap and tacky suit they owned, which did not fit me very well. It had seen too many volunteers stuff themselves into it over the years and the poor thing was flawed in spots. Thinking about it, the kids that I saw at that church didn’t see the problems and issues of the suit that I saw. They were just thrilled seeing Santa in the building; with no regard, as to how his wardrobe appeared.

            The years have slowly and methodically transformed me into whom many perceive as Santa Claus. I had achieved the long beard years before, but Father-Time has added the white to the thing. He has also increased the girth of my mid-section, so subtly, I never realized it was happening. At some point, the necessary combination of white beard and belly became my new trademark, my calling card, if you will.

            When the transformation was complete, the public began to see me and treat me differently. It was the children who reacted first, and it was happening anywhere, any time of the year, no matter how I was dressed or where I was at the time. One day, I noticed small children pointing at me and whispering to each other as I walked by them. I didn’t think anything about it at first, but then one day I overheard what one was saying to the other. “Psst, look, look, it’s Santa Claus.” I stopped in my tracks and turned to face the informant. His lower jaw dropped open and his eyes seemed to grow out of their sockets. When his eyes met my stern stare, I grinned really big and gave him a wink, then I continued on my original course. It’s been like that for many years now, only today I have to add the adults as well.

            I work in a middle school in West Tennessee. I started there in 2007. Back then, I had a lot of color still in my hair and beard. In those days, a lot of people called me ZZ-Top and a few years later, the students referred to me as Duck Dynasty. Eventually the colored follicles were replaced by the white I now sport and along with it came the references of Santa Claus.

           One of my colleagues at the school is raising her granddaughter, whose name is Alicia. I have known her since shortly after her birth. Granny would bring her to after school functions and everyone would do what we do around a little bundle of baby—we would oooh! and aaah! the precious child. As the years continued on, Lil’ Alicia started to walk on her own and then one day she was old enough to start kindergarten.

            One day, I was in our gymnasium after school, supervising some kids playing on the court. Granny walks in and following her was Lil’ Alicia fresh off the bus from her school. When she saw me in the distance, she screamed, “S-a-n-t-a!” and began running towards me, as fast as her little legs could carry her. I turned toward her and threw out my arms and she buried herself in me. I gave her a gentle squeeze and she looked into my eyes and never broke contact. She began to study every feature I had, constantly fixated on my eyes. I felt a glorious warmth run through me, and I’m convinced she felt it too. From that moment on, I AM Santa Claus to Lil’ Alicia.

            I’m still teaching at that same school and Lil’ Alicia still comes over every afternoon to meet up with her granny, only now she is not so little anymore. She is getting to that age where she is questioning the true existence of Santa Claus. She walks by my classroom every day on her way to her granny’s locale. I always meet her in the hallway and she still runs up and gives me a hug. She tells her friends that I am Santa Claus and just recently a few of them started telling her that Santa isn’t real. Luckily, she doesn’t believe them and I am still the lucky recipient of heartfelt and loving hugs from my biggest fan.

            The other day, I spoke with Alicia’s grandmother and told her that I dread the day she no longer believes in Santa Claus. I have cherished the opportunity to be hers and no matter what, she will always be ‘Santa’ Doug’s most special fan. The inevitable is just around the corner with Lil’ Alicia and there is nothing anyone can do to stop nature’s course. But, the spirit of Santa Claus will never be lost in the grown child, as long as Lil’ Alicia keeps the thought and memory of her Santa in her heart and soul, for always.

 

I will only be a Santa Claus for a short while, but Santa Claus will be forever.

 

IMG_1299(1).thumb.jpg.ffa712cf5790029aacd24e21484bfb34.jpg          IMG_1706(2).thumb.jpg.63b1ac13a28d8315a310b380b5195935.jpg

‘Santa’ Doug’s Biggest Little Fan!

Edited by Santa Doug Billings
Replacement of paragraphs
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