|Kris and Rebecca Kringle|
Photo by: Kimberley Laaksa Photography.
As has become our tradition, Mrs. Santa and I would like to share with you the joys and delights we receive from visiting the world when it is at its cheeriest and most positive. There truly is a wonderful Spirit which accompanies the Christmas season.
My Beloved and I have been recreating Santa and Mrs. Rebecca Claus (there – you heard her first name here first!) for some years now, and each year it is a special treat. We sincerely hope it also is for the people with whom we have the pleasure of visiting.
This year, for about the last five or six weeks, we have visited some 25 organized events and several spontaneous ones (disorganized events?), and they have each and every one been special to us. We have sat over 1000 little ones on our collective knees this year, over 200 not-so-little ones, and we have had the great pleasure of visiting with some 450 seniors, some of whom were not able to sit on our knees, so we bent ours to them. As it should be. And our knees are still working! That in itself is a great Christmas blessing!
We were privileged to visit a Seniors Lodge to which we have been invited for several years. My failing memory notwithstanding (as my Beloved would say, ‘ooh, good word!) many faces are familiar – though I still struggle to put a name to most faces. I enjoy the smiles elicited when I flatter the ladies with the thought that they have seen what, now? 29 or 30 Christmases?? And the men always seem to enjoy my un-pretended envy of their beautiful white hair (mine still takes a little dye and paint to remove the last of the colour). After visiting with these dear folks for a moment or two, we ask them not what they would like for Christmas but rather “what is your Christmas wish – for you, for your loved ones, or for the world?”
Many—having endured the ravages of war themselves—many wish for the proverbial Peace on Earth; the Christmas-time phrase that many of us toss off without really thinking about its meaning. These folks are sincere. In their age and disability and declining health caused by a lifetime of caring and struggle, they truly are burdened with the weight of war and strife in the world.
We assure them we will do what we can to end the strife. We assure them that the secret to doing so is in working with the children of our little corner of the world. Chidlren who will need to know joy in their life, that they may be armed to stand up to the evils they will inevitably encounter.
Amongst the senior crowd this year was a dear little old woman, 93 years old, assisted by a wheelchair due to an aged, bent body that could no longer keep up with her sharp mind. I knelt down to greet her, took her hand in mine and asked, “What would you wish for this Christmas, Estelle? (We love the beautiful ‘old-fashioned’ names that we encounter!). Estelle looked up at me as best she could, caught my eye and said: “A kiss from Santa Claus”.
I know that I hesitated, noticeably, with this request, as the possible implications of fulfilling her request ran through my mind. I must add here that I am most grateful to have Mrs. Santa at my side, who does a magnificent job of monitoring ‘players’ of all ages, even the 93-year-old ones. (A tangent to follow, if you will indulge me for a moment: I have, over the years, received some, shall we say, ‘interesting requests’ to intervene in the love-lives of teens and twenty-somethings. The most interesting and strident one this year was a request from Jackie, who asked me to stop off at Dave’s house in San Diego to let him know that Jackie was expecting him to bring back a ring – ‘a big one’ -- this Christmas. “Have you taken this up with Dave yet, or will this be a surprise when I tell him?” “Oh, Santa,” said Jackie, “He knows who he is! And he knows alllllll about the rock I want!” I assured Jackie that I would deliver a reminder to Dave. ‘Nuff said. Merry Christmas to Jackie and best wishes to Dave!)
Estelle was still waiting for her kiss from Santa, and while my mind was still on pause with the request I asked her “Why would you want a kiss from this whiskered old face?” Estelle paused a moment also, and with a tear forming in the corner of her eye she breathed quietly, “I have not had a kiss from anyone for over 25 years . . . . “. Estelle’s grip on my gloved hand tightened, but this was not the cause of a tear welling in my own eye. As I returned the firmness of the hand grip, Santa and Mrs. Santa both granted a Christmas wish that, in the grand scheme of things, was easily granted and that cost nothing but a bit of the ‘milk of human kindness’, as Dickens so succinctly summarized it in the words of Jacob Marley. While delighted to grant so simple and meaningful a request, we were saddened by the tale of neglect that had sparked Estelle’s Christmas wish.
I will end this 2016 Report Card with the story of Isabella, a gangly and quiet-spoken 10-year-old who had been on Santa’s knee, in turn with some 30 other children at a lively community-league Christmas event. Once all of the children had had their turn and had gone off to unwrap their gifts, two young ladies hovered nearby. One was a delightful 5-year-old who, with the full approval of her mother, had suspended a dozen or so candy canes in the neck of her crimson Christmas dress, delivering them to various and sundry at will. Mrs. Santa and I were the grateful recipients of, I think, more than half of her deliveries. Isabella hovered nearby until the candy deliveries were mostly completed, and until I noticed her there, again. I waved my hand for her to ‘come over’, which she did, slowly. “Would you like to sit on my knee again, Isabella?” (I actually remembered her name this time!). She nodded, and I hoisted her up onto my lap, feeling that maybe she had forgotten to tell me something during her first visit. I tried to strike up a conversation with her.
“What grade are you in at school, Isabella?”
“Do you like school?”
“What’s your favourite subject?”
A shrug of the shoulders.
“Do you like sports?”
“Do you like to draw, make art?”
With each question, Isabella had snuggled closer and more closely into Santa’s warm furry suit. After several more attempts at eliciting some information, I finally figured out that Isabella was sending me the only message that she needed to hear back from me.
“Would you like Santa to be quiet now?”
She snuggled right in close and leaned her head on my shoulder. “Yeah.”
I wrapped my arms around her and granted two wishes, one of which was unspoken. I realized that Santa’s blathering on, trying to learn something about this lovely little lady, was masking the unspoken request she was making, which was simply to be loved.
Isabella spent some twenty minutes on my lap that night, encircled by my arms. A priceless moment in time we shall never forget and shall always cherish.
My Christmas wish for 2017? That each and every one of you will experience the milk of human kindness in the coming weeks and months and years. God bless, and Merry Christmas to all!
With our love to you at Christmas 2016,
Santa and Rebecca Claus