A day in the Life of Santa, Day-10: Last night I played what will arguable is the second hardest Christmas event of this year, and one that is usually the hardest I face annually: The Lake and Sumter Families foster parent association. The children arrive with both trepidation and excitement. From hearing Leesburg Fire Department’s siren announcing the arrival of Santa until they stand face-to-face with him, their emotions are in knots.
These children face emotional challenges at the most difficult time in their lives, often with the question of who am I, where do I belong, does someone truly love me? I interacted with kids that have not seen their parents in years due to being removed from them due to incarceration, abandonment, or due to being in a harmful situation. Abandonment issues, feeling lost, and at times, unloved.
A pre-teen boy came up to me after I climbed out of the Fire Apparatus and asked if he could sing to me. He said he had no gift to give me. He said he doesn’t stay with his mom anymore and said his mom and he would leave a gift for Santa on Christmas Eve and hoped his song was enough. I forgot about him as I prepared to see the line of children anxiously waiting to see Santa. Kids jumped on my lap, pulled my beard, and then he arrived. Tall, gaunt, pale, red hair, scared. He sat on my lap and then leaned into me.
The boy asked if I remembered that he wanted to sing to me; I said I did. Then he broke out into a high sopranic voice singing a tune that I had never heard before. It reminded me of the song sung in the movie, The Snowman (my favorite Christmas tear jerker). His vocal ability was phenomenal. Someone had loved him and brought him to voice lessons. He had great capture of the notes and could change pitch with ease. And he was proud of his voice, his song, and he was thrilled that I accepted his gift. All he wanted was to give a gift to Santa.
Another family brought forward their three children, all obviously from different families, one they had adopted. After pictures with their girls, they said they had a baby, but he was sick. I stated I need to avoid being around the flu because of my schedule. They looked puzzled and then said, no, sick as medically challenged. I said bring him to me. They took the baby carrier out of the stroller and showed me the baby. He is almost 2 years old. He was unable to interact with the outside world. He was deaf, and I believe he was blind. He could not swallow and was hooked to a G-tube feeding pump. That is what many may have seen, but it is not all.
This boy was clean, washed, dressed in Christmas attire. He was cared for. In their words, his birth mother gave him up on sight, but they chose to rescue him. Rescue? What an interesting choice of words. Like every other child present, someone was willing to provide a safe haven for these kids. A home, food, shelter, comfort, and love. A desire to chase away the demons of this world. Rescue? Who rescued whom?
He rested in my arms; I closed my eyes and began to hum. He turned into me. All he wants is love. And he has it. A family will ensure he is never forgotten. I openly cried then. I am openly crying now in my office. I am not ashamed.
It is my wish that more people would aspire to be half the humanitarians that these foster parents are. Caring for others is a gift that has no equal.
My presentation as Santa in these children’s lives was just a fraction of time; the impact of these foster families, as it is a whole community, is a lifetime commitment and equates to the true meaning of Christmas. I thank them all for allowing me the opportunity to revel in their joy.
Peace to all, and to all a good night.