For the merriment of children…
Santa is known by no other name.
Heading into the country last week (there seemed to be no other choice), thoughts of Santa were never out of mind.
He appeared each night from Thanksgiving until Christmas in front of a house north of the county shop, or so we were told. Efforts to find the name of the owner of the house proved futile.
"I know who he is," everyone seemed to say, "And we even drove out by that house last year."
But do you know who owns the house?
A blank stare.
"Well, no," they said.
All I needed was a name or a phone number to call this guy for an interview.
No luck around town.
Eleven miles later a neighbor of his said, "I don't know his name we just call him Santa Claus."
Then so be it. If that's good enough for him, it's good enough for me.
I left a note on the porch where the jolly old elf appears.
Santa called me that night when he had a moment away from the front lawn where he had been giving candy canes to children whose families brought them out to see his lights.
"Well I don't know if I'll have time to talk to you," he said, his voice a little muffled through the thick white beard surrounding his face. Even over the telephone, he somehow looked like a picture I had seen in a book once, when I was a young child, a very young child.
He could fly in a sleigh pulled by reindeer, this gentleman who was speaking to me on the telephone. He had a workshop behind his house that was full of toys, tools and cans of brightly colored paint. Each day, little elves came in, wearing their pointed little hats and boots, and helped him build the toys, and then helped him test the toys just to make sure they worked, of course.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Claus, the jolly white-haired lady who liked to bake tons of cookies in the kitchen, kept a warm fire going in the living room of the house nearby. Santa and the elves would stop every once in a while for breaks to join Mrs. Claus. After they warmed themselves near the wood stove in the corner of the room, they would sink onto cushiony quilted chairs and drink the hot chocolate and taste the cookies Mrs. Claus made.
Santa never went anywhere far from home unless he flew through the sky in his big red sleigh. The reindeer lived in a barn beside the workshop. Each deer had his own stall. a soft hay-covered floor and plenty of food to eat. Red harnesses with silver bells that the reindeer would wear hung along the corridor and every once in a while a bell would ring, as if by magic.
Snow covered the ground where Santa and Mrs. Claus, the elves and reindeer lived. Sometimes they all had to wear snowshoes and walk like Eskimos just to get around.
And when Christmas Eve came, Santa and Mrs. Claus would check and double-check the list to make sure that all the good little children would get just what they wanted.
Santa lived in a magical place, traveled in a magical way and served as a sign of a wonderful time. To children everywhere he symbolized love, caring and laughter.
Today as Santa speaks on the phone from a house near Jarbalo, even still, and even from afar, his voice resonates with cheer and awakens memories of awaiting Christmas morning.
It is the night that makes it all worthwhile, the darkness before the sun comes up, the hour where the stars twinkle in a moonlit sky, and where once in a while if you listen really closely, you just might hear the magic of the ringing of the bells. Thank you, Santa, for making Christmas merry.