I took my almost 2 year old son to Walmart a few days before Christmas. It was early morning, so not that many shoppers had rolled out of bed to bombard the stores for last minute gift hunting. I was simply there to get some groceries, as I find Walmart’s food prices to be considerably lower than even the discount grocery stores in town. But that’s another post for another time.
So, as we go through the doors, I spot Mrs. Santa Claus coming out to retrieve a shopping cart. She’s absolutely beautifully dressed; long, red velvet dress, glasses, white curly wig (or maybe it was her real hair!), tall, thin, just stunning. She immediately came over to my son and made a ‘fuss.’ She mentioned that Santa Claus was inside and they were simply there to do some last minute shopping for the big day.
We proceeded inside and Santa approached, equally as stunning, if men can be considered by such a term. He greeted my child with a hearty ‘Ho, Ho, Ho’ and shook his hand. Just then, as I watched this course of events unfold, something overwhelmed me and I began to cry. In fact, I started to cry so noticeably that the Walmart greeter lady felt the need to approach and pat me on the back. Everyone wanted to know what was wrong. They huddled around me for a moment and stood speechless. Well, nothing was wrong. The magic of the season just hit me. All at once. It was my son’s first encounter with Santa Claus, it was an unexpected encounter, and furthermore, it was a powerful signal that the spiritual message that Christmas is rumored to be based on, just might still be lurking around somewhere.
Amidst my slight show of madness, and attempt to put words to what I was feeling, Santa and the Mrs. rushed off and left me there with my tears. I got the feeling that they didn’t quite understand my reaction. My son was already running toward the Christmas cookies, so he was apparently unaffected by the event. I began to wonder why two people would go to the trouble of dressing so magically, and randomly entering a public place, if not to bring the exact feeling that I experienced! I do suppose, however, that most people expect joy to be accompanied by smiles and laughter, not tears. Perhaps, as my own inner child suspects, they were the REAL Santa and Mrs. Claus, and I happened upon the truly magical blessing of being witness to their daily lives just before their special day. Either way, those two people gave me a glimpse of pure fulfillment that day, and a memory that I will not soon forget.