Saturday was the annual Christmas parade down town. We found an open curb on the brick street to sit on for a front row view. It was about 6:30 PM, so it was dark, but well-lit with street lamps. Directly across the street a pickup sat in a driveway with the tailgate down. Several adults, all apparently related, were sitting on the tailgate, in lawn chairs around the back of the truck and on the curb ready for a bird’s eye view of the parade that would be starting soon.
About 10 minutes before the first lighted float crawled by, an “unofficial” Santa slowly walked up that side of the street. He looked the part too — real white beard, red suite, black belt and boots, big belly. The “official” Santa always rides the last parade float, so this guy wasn’t the “real” Santa! He was a wanna be Santa, but he was convincing, even for a certified Santaologist.
To the poster child of cuteness little girl sitting on the tailgate, it didn’t matter one iota. To her, this man dressed like Santa was totally, completely and absolutely, the real deal!
She spotted him coming up the street and all of her 3 ½ year old attention was fixed on Santa. Her dark brown hair was peeking out from under her pink toboggan covered in red hearts. Her huge brown eyes were shining in complete admiration.
She was mesmerized! She watched every movement of the big guy. Her mouth was slightly open in amazement, and her expression looked like she had a permanently fixed smile on her face.
As the Wanna Be Santa worked the crowd up to the tailgate, she instinctively reached up for Santa with both arms. When he picked her up, she immediately threw both arms around his neck, then pulled back and kissed Santa right on the cheek. Santa laughed deeply!
Honestly, it was convincing. He laughed so hard it looked like he truly shook like a bowl full of jelly. She laid her head on his shoulder in complete love and contentment as the adults in her family laughed while snapping pictures. He held her for a minute, then spoke something quietly in her ear.
She pulled her head back after he was through talking to look him squarely in the eyes. Both of her arms were still around Santa’s neck while enthusiastically shaking her head yes. Wanna Be Santa laughed from deep within himself again, then gently set her back on the tailgate.
She didn’t resist or object. It was as if she knew it was her duty to be a big girl and share Santa with the rest of the world. She continued to beam the most beautiful smile at Santa as he turned to move on down the crowd. Her eyes and attention never wavered from him as he continued on his way.
Soon the parade started and the little girl felt the wonder of every moment!!!
Everyone knows the “real Santa” was on the float at the end of the parade. But I gotta tell you, after watching the Wanna Be Santa with the little Precious Moments girl, well, I wish I could be like them both!