#1 was born in 1991. That Christmas we went to the Mall to see Santa. I knew exactly who I wanted my children to see. I wanted them to see the real Santa, Santa Bob.
Most kids think Santa spends the entire year building toys and talking with the elves, and at one time Santa did, but along about 1900, toy factories began being built and Santa realized it was far easier and cheaper on him and Mrs. Claus if they got toys from the toy factories, so Santa was able to relax, enjoy life a little. Now every mom knows that around late November, Santa goes to all the towns on earth and picks a few very special men to act as his proxy during the Christmas holidays. These men are Santa, because they are hand selected by the Big Guy himself. Santa Bob was our local Santa. Around mid November he’d come in the salon where I used to work and get his hair and beard trimmed. He’d get a toner put on it, because natural gray hair tends to yellow in the sun.
This man would sit in the salon with color on his hair and listen to what children wanted for Christmas and a twinkle would form in his eyes and he would laugh, and I swear I’d hear reindeer on the roof of the mall. So I knew when I had kids, I wanted them to see Santa Bob.
That first Christmas, we took #1 to see Santa. He wasn’t afraid, though he was almost a year old and most kids are. The next Christmas we took #1 and #2. For a few years it was just them, but then #3 was born and for a few years all three kids would go, but then one year #1 balked. He was too old to sit on Santa’s lap. “It was embarrassing, ” he told me. The next year his sister refused, so for a while I took #3 by herself. Last year she refused. I cried.
Santa Bob is older now. The mall doesn’t like to give out his schedule. They have picked younger men who don’t have real beards and who weren’t ordained by Santa himself. I am actually glad that my kids are too old to want to go. It was Santa Bob who told me “wise men still seek Him.” He knew he’d find our house, because it was well lit and had a Nativity in the front yard. He told the kids he always got there before we put Baby Jesus out, since we usually do that sometimes after midnight. It fascinated them that he knew our Nativity didn’t yet have a Baby Jesus, because He hasn’t been born yet…
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. His spirit in instilled in the hearts of men like Santa Bob, who come to the malls, allow kids to sit on their laps for hours a day. I believe that Santa Bob was the real Santa Claus. After all with all that free time he had on his hands now that toy factories do all the work, and Amazon delivers most of the toys, Santa has to spend his time somewhere. Why not our mall?
Santa Bob, where ever you are today. Thank you. For being faithful. For being true. And for being there for my kids for 2 decades. I appreciate you so much. More than you will ever know. Merry Christmas. Hug Mrs. Claus and tell Rudolph I’ll leave out that reindeer food he likes so much. Tell Dasher to be gentle on the roof when he lands, it’s new. Be safe. God rest you, Merry Gentleman.