It’s nearly Christmas.Amid all the festive and traditional runaround, we generally perform a few extra acts of goodwill during this giving season. So, upon a request this year, my husband and I agreed to dress up and play Santa and Mrs. Claus at a craft bazaar held inside a small-town elementary school. Children lined up to sit on jolly, old Santa's lap and receive peppermint candy canes from his sweet and cheerful wife, Mrs. Claus. Our teamwork made a bunch of kids happy—twinkling, eager eyes and grinning lips reciting long lists of what-I-want-for-Christmas. We also made a few wary children cry at their parents' insistence they sit on the old, bearded man's lap for as long as it took to snap a few keepsake pictures.
Overall, it was a merry day. But it was more than that; it was an eye-opening marvel.
I began noticing something fascinating the moment we walked out our front door all dressed up in red-and-white Claus disguises. Observers who looked our direction beamed cheerfully, pointing us out to others in their company. Nudging my husband, (who had also become aware of the fact that his presence was excitedly noted by kids in the car ahead of us) we waved at the smiling onlookers. They returned eager waves. It was an interesting drive along the freeway noting brightened expressions on those who glanced our way, traveling the same road. And by the time we arrived at the little elementary school, a distance from our own home town, I understood that great expectations rest on the shoulders of those who dare garb themselves in the famous 'Claus' uniform.
As my Santa husband and I walked up the sidewalk to the front doors of the school, we were taken in by a sea of eyes. It was an illuminating and surreal experience. People smiled. People waved. People offered cordial greetings. The unanimous assumption was that we were a happy, kind, generous couple with warm hugs to offer and open ears available to hear every last youthful want and wish. And as we went about our business—visiting with strangers, holding their children, giving them sweet hope and happy hearts and candy canes—it occurred to me I'd never in my lifetime been approached by such an abundance of friendly smiles. It felt wonderful! So I had to ask myself, why this collective thrill at Santa's presence?
Easy enough to answer......because people know that Santa cares. They expect a jolly character, open arms, and a warm lap. They trust that this white-bearded man dressed all in red will be attentive to their wants, patient with their reservations, kind in his words and gestures, and generous with his gifts. A short visit with him grants acceptance and love and affirmation to all. A moment in his presence lets them know they are indeed precious individuals worthy of his time. What an honorable thing to assume the role of Santa Claus! What a treat to have Santa's fixed attention!
Understanding of these facts came to me bit by bit throughout the afternoon as I did my very best to perform as people expected. My time as Mrs. Claus passed delightfully. My thoughts, however, continued to mull over the event even days later until I finally understood why this experience had affected me so intensely.
T he truth—I want people to look at me the way they looked at Mrs. Santa Claus. Is that silly? Perhaps. Perhaps not. All I know is this: when I walk into a room full of individuals who know me presently, the response isn't nearly as delighted and good-spirited as what I experienced from those faces turned on Mrs. Claus. Not that I don't receive smiles or kind words, but the reception is mild compared to the joyful acceptance of those who greeted Mr. & Mrs. Claus.
I t seems I have my work cut out for me. For it is one thing to care about people; I do care. It's an entirely different story to have people know you care and respond to that surety. And that is where the Claus's have taught me a valuable lesson. And so this Christmas season I will turn over a new leaf and do more than simply feel for others. Then perhaps, eventually, people will see in me the heart of dear Mrs. Santa Clause and naturally brighten up in my presence.
"Act like you care. Pray like you care. Speak, smile, reach out, and live like you care. The point is to make sure those in your life know beyond doubt that you do care." ~ Richelle E. Goodrich