A long, long time ago, I lived in a neighborhood full of wonderful friends and supportive people. I was the perfect place to bring up a family (well except that it was really close to Los Angeles). I was invited to join a babysitting coop where we babysat each others kids for points that we could cash in when we needed a babysitter. I didn’t usually need a babysitter because we never went anyplace without the kids but I did join, just in case. It was also good for the kids to have other kids over when I babysat once in a while.
One year, as part of the babysitting coop, we decided to have a Christmas party with caroling and then Santa! It was fun to plan and the kids looked forward to it. They didn’t know Santa was coming but they looked forward to the party and to caroling. The question was who would be Santa? None of the dads wanted to do it then my friend, Linda, asked her dad and he said yes! The mom’s knew who Santa was but the kids didn’t. Most of the kids had not met Linda’s dad previously so they didn’t recognize him. It was neat to watch the look on their faces as Santa held them on his lap and took his time with each one of them then handed them a gift (the parents had supplied the gifts for their own children). To see Santa interacting with the kids was a treat, too. You could tell that Santa was truly enjoying his appearance as Santa. The evening was a huge success, mostly because we had such a genuine Santa!
A few days later, Linda and I were talking about how the kids had love her dad as Santa. She said her dad had said that it was the best thing he had ever done…the most special feeling of all! Later, I was to find that out for myself when I got to play Santa for my kids’ elementary school. And I think one of the reasons I agreed to do it was because I knew from Linda’s dad that it would be a really great thing to do for the kids…and for me, too!
I won’t ever forget that very special Santa who was not only a perfect Santa but a truly nice man that treated my kids and myself as if we were his family. I miss that Santa. And I won’t ever forget the feeling of friendship and community in that neighborhood where my kids were raised.