Every child needs a Santa
Just when I was settling into the calm and quiet of Advent, along comes St. Nick’s Day to distract me. Given St. Nicholas’ reputation as the model for Santa Claus, it didn’t take me long to be whisked from Advent to Christmas Eve and memories of my very own St. Nicholas/Santa Claus impersonator — my brother, Len.
It probably was two minutes after my cousin Karen’s twins were born that she went out and purchased a Santa suit and gave it to Len to wear on Christmas Eve. By the time my siblings and cousins were finished having babies, there were 10 children within about a six-year span to crowd around Santa on Christmas Eve.
Len was perfect — he was always portly so the suit needed little alteration — you couldn’t help but want to hug him. And hug him, they did. But he was also “a right jolly old elf.” When he would laugh (either as Santa or in real life), he made everyone around him laugh. In his big, deep voice he would read them some Christmas story or poem and give them a little something — usually a book. I may not remember all those details, but I do know in those moments we were all lifted up, happy to be alive and together.
Perhaps my favorite memory is the year Santa made his usual appearance and Beth, still young enough to be a little scared by the suit and beard, was assured in whispers by her brother and cousins that it was okay — Santa was really Uncle Lenny.
Every child needs a Santa — every family needs an Uncle Lenny. Now there is something to pray for this Advent.