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My View: Kind-hearted Santa brightened our lives

By Carol Preisler

My little man and I were on a quest to find the one and only Santa. The mall was crowded, just the way I liked it during the holidays. Not so much now.

My little man was 4 and so excited about the coming holiday.  Santa, without a doubt, was his superhero.

I walked up to the line and pushed his stroller into place. A few folks stared, but that was not unusual. He cannot walk.

Everyone seemed very calm, thank goodness. I didn’t feel my usual apprehension about taking him into a crowd. It was all good and I remember feeling uplifted and happy.

When it was my little guy’s turn, I placed him on Santa’s lap, and moved aside. It was difficult for me to keep it together emotionally. What I do remember is standing in front of a huge glass storefront, willing myself not to cry. My little guy was being embraced by Santa, and I was falling apart.

All these many years later, I can go back to that time and feel the tenderness of the moment. Santa took his big gloved hand and cupped my boy’s face.  He spoke to him as they gazed at one another for what seemed like an eternity. The connection was instant and intense. This gentle man had empathy spilling from his fingertips.

As an observer, I felt paralyzed in magic land. Time stood still and then I was holding my son once again.

We rode home in a haze of happiness, both chattering about how much fun we had. Even at his young age, my child expressed feeling something very special about his time with Santa.

It still remains one of the most memorable holiday events we have ever experienced.

We have talked often about that day. I think of that particular Santa during the holidays and wish he knew his impact. My son just turned 40 and still marvels at the feelings it evoked. It was enchanting and is forever our great Christmas story.

I have a nephew with a beautiful white beard and long hair.  I have been pushing him to be a Santa. He thinks he is too thin.  He has a handsome, magical face with twinkling eyes. I sent him a Santa outfit this summer.

I think being Santa would be amazing. Imagine all the little stories you would hear and treasure. My theory is that when you are doing something for children, your heart explodes. So, fingers crossed that my nephew  gets up his courage. If so, can I be an elf?

Working in a school at Christmastime brought great joy. (Halloween was a close second.)  Santa would arrive on the last day before winter break and jingle his way to every classroom. He would stay dressed in his warm, red suit all day long. I once asked if he would care to take a break in a locked room. Remove his heavy coat, perhaps? Santa replied that he needed to stay on task. Any discomfort was part of his gift.  He did a beautiful job for many years.

One year in particular, a little girl spent that last day of school on the nurse’s cot. She was dressed up in her best red velvet dress and little white tights. Sometimes too many treats had unhappy endings. Sadly she missed the classroom visit.

I was able to locate Santa and asked if he could find time to go into the health office. I found a good viewing spot so that I could observe their meeting. The girl’s eyes lit up as Santa walked through the door just for her. Their magic moment was captured forever by her internal camera. I know that feeling.

Carol Preisler, who lives in North Tonawanda, has vivid memories of Santa from nearly four decades ago.
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