Santas I Have Known (Part 4 of 4)

Posted: December 21, 2011 in Christmas, Christmas Fun, holiday, inspiration, Santa Claus
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Sadly, I don’t remember his name. Sadder still, I’m not sure I ever knew it. But I do remember that every time I crossed paths with the guy we’ll call “Bill” he asked anyone within earshot if they had some odd jobs he could do for money. If that didn’t work, he just asked for a donation to his “Christmas Fund.”

Most people didn’t ask the purpose of his fund. They just made their excuses and moved along. Quickly.

Maybe that was because “Bill” looked sort of like a weasel with greasy blonde hair. And while he was somewhere in his early 20s, most seventh graders could grow a fuller beard than the little stand of hair struggling valiantly to grow on his face. He looked more like someone waiting to steal your car than someone who could change your life.

Bill became something of a regular in some of the places I frequented. I was a professional magician way back then (close-up magic primarily) and I worked a lot of clubs. Oddly enough, he would be at many of the same places. Or he might pop up at the mall, or some other community gathering spot and as always he would be looking for an odd job or a handout.

It was at one of the clubs where I finally got a clue as to what he was about. He was coming out of the back room with a large trash bag and headed across the main area toward the front door. I took a hasty break and caught up with him. Then I asked him what was in the bag.

“I’ve really got to go,” he said. He started to walk away, so I walked with him and asked again. “What’s in the bag?”

“Bill paused, looked around, and motioned toward an out-of-the-way spot with his head. “Come over here.” I followed, wondering what I had gotten myself into. Out of the flow of traffic, he opened the mouth of the bag and I looked in.

It was a box of candy canes on top of a Santa suit.

A Santa suit?

I asked him about the suit and he told me his story. It was the story of of a boy who grew up in a loveless home. He was not abused. He was just an “accident” that his parents really didn’t want, and they made that fact well known until he was old enough to leave home. “I didn’t think anybody loved me, so I pretty much kept to myself. I stayed out of my folks’ way and tried to be invisible.”

He went on to tell me that one of the stores in a little strip mall near their house had a Santa Claus one year. “I snuck out to go see him because I’d never seen the real Santa Claus before. I finally worked up the courage to go and see him. I was too old to sit in his lap, so I stood beside him and didn’t say much. Just told him I didn’t want anything for Christmas because I wasn’t worth it.”

By this point he had tears in his eyes. He looked at me, wiped at his eyes, and continued.

“The next thing I knew, he took a candy cane out of a little box, handed it to me, and said, ‘Son, you surely are worth it. Everybody is worth it. I don’t know what you’ve been through, but I want you to know that Santa loves you and God loves you.’ Then he gave me another candy cane, hugged me, and said, ‘You come back anytime.’ And for the first time in my life I felt like I really was worth something.”

He stopped, wiped his eyes again, and said, “He made life bearable. I went back a few times and he remembered me. Just like I was somebody. So later, when I moved out and got my own place, I decided to be a Santa too, because you never know who is going to need to know they are loved.”

“Is that what the odd jobs are all about?” I asked. He nodded.

“Yeah. I’ve got a job at the garage but that doesn’t cover all the Christmas stuff. I use the odd jobs money to buy candy canes and coloring books. Every kid gets a present.”

The kids weren’t the only ones who received a gift. I received one too.  It’s funny … the spirit of Christmas shows up in the strangest places.

Then again, the one who started it all got His start in a pretty strange place too.

Merry Christmas

  1. t says:

    i am literally in tears as i write this, but i would much rather be tearing up because i read this post than not. A wonderful tale, and inspiring to know that there are still those who can turn a negative right side round.

  2. Mary says:

    Wow – beautiful – thank you!

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