48: A Gift for Santa

48: A Gift for Santa

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas in Canada

A Gift for Santa

Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man.

~Rabindranath Tagore

When my five-year-old son opened his stocking gifts on Christmas morning, the toy he was most intrigued by was a Santa Claus Pez dispenser. He was enthralled by the red plastic chimney that offered little gift-shaped candies when he tilted back Santa’s head. He handed the candies out to us all day, each one a tiny present, offered with solemn ceremony by my little guy. When Christmas Day was over, that little toy was still his most treasured item of the day. Imagine something so simple, so inexpensive. Santa hit the jackpot on that one.

As I tucked my two little sons into their beds on Christmas night, Joshua asked me, “Mama, does anybody give Santa presents at Christmas? Besides the cookies we leave him, does he get any gifts? I want to give this Pez toy to Santa next year as a present from me.”

“How sweet,” I said, patting his cheek as I pulled up the covers. “I am sure Santa will like that.” Not really thinking anything of it, I turned off his bedroom light and closed the door.

All through the holidays Joshua played with his Santa toy. And then came the new year and life got busy. I never gave that toy another thought, although I must have seen it in his room from time to time.

In summer a friend and I decided to take our children on a camping trip to Santa’s Village in Bracebridge, Ontario, a few hours north of our Toronto homes. We packed up the van with food and toys and diapers, camp stove, bug spray, sunscreen, all the things required on any trip with preschoolers. The journey was not without its challenges, and at least twice I questioned what we were thinking when we decided to take four preschool kids tent camping. But the weather was fine, it was summer, and we were nothing if not courageous.

Besides, as I sometimes said to my friend, “We make a good mom.” Complementary parenting styles, and loving each other’s kids as well as our own, we could figure out how to handle meltdowns, burned hotdogs, lost hats and whining.

Santa’s Village is one of the places where Santa spends his summer while taking a break from making toys at the North Pole. It is also lots of fun. We enjoyed the train, the petting zoo, and the playground. But the highlight of our day was the visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus in their own little cottage. We stood in line with other parents and kids, and it seemed to take forever. Finally my two boys and I were ushered into the presence of the jolly old man himself.

I introduced my boys by name, just to remind him and Mrs. Claus, and they began to visit with my sons. Both the old folks focused completely and solely on my little boys, seeming to have all the time in the world for them. They asked Joshua about his interests, and held his baby brother on their laps. Santa was wearing the perfect Santa beard and red Santa suit. Mrs. Claus in a long red dress and apron had curly white hair peeking out from her cap. Santa’s round belly really did jiggle when he laughed. The thing I noticed most was their kind eyes with little laugh wrinkles at the corners. They were magnetic, and my boys wanted to talk and cuddle and just be with this old couple. Wow, I thought. I am a grown woman, and I have finally met the real Santa. The feeling of magic in the air was palpable.

Just as we were about to be escorted out by a sweet teenaged elf, little Joshua reached into his pocket and pulled out the Santa Pez dispenser toy from the previous Christmas.

“Santa,” he said, in his husky little boy voice. “This is for you. I have been saving it for you since you gave it to me last Christmas.”

“Are you sure?” asked Santa. “Are you sure you want me to keep this?”

“Yes, Santa,” said Joshua. “You give everybody presents. I want to give a present to you. I love you, Santa.”

The two older folks exchanged a look and Santa said, “Mrs. Claus and I thank you, Joshua. We love you and little Noah, too.”

There was so much love shining in their eyes as they gave each of my boys another hug. I shook hands with them with tears in my eyes, said thank you and we left the cottage.

Christmas in July. Santa is as real as Love.

I believe.

~Deborah J. Kinsinger

Newmarket, Ontario

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