Tuesday, December 24, 2013

How Santa Claus Changed My Life

Funny that in so many years as a journalist in addition to a meteorologist in TV news, one of the stories which affected me most was a silly little feature I did not long after I arrived in Paducah.  The idea was simple, put a wireless mic on me and have me play Santa Claus at Kentucky Oaks Mall for an afternoon.  I thought it might be cute!  The reality was, it touched me so much and filled me with a Christmas spirit I have til this day.

I thought it would be a goofy afternoon of having children sitting on my lap and listing what they wanted for Christmas, and for the most part it was, however, it was also an eye opening experience.  The look in the children's eyes startled me.  They really BELIEVED I WAS SANTA! Which for little kids, is one of the most important entities in the world.

Of course, a few kids were really bad seeds, asking for the world and telling me (Santa) not to bring their siblings anything!  But others truly were little angels.  They would ask for NOTHING for themselves, but rather ask for gifts for their brothers and sisters or for their moms and dads.  Sometimes they would ask for their moms, dads or siblings to get a new coat.  Some wanted food for themselves  and their families.  Sometimes they would ask me to get their mom or dad a new job because they had no money.  Sometimes all they would ask for is for their moms and dads to get back together so they could be a family again.  It was heartbreaking that that's ALL these children wanted for Christmas.  I wished so hard I could make these kids' Christmas wishes come true but all I could do is pray for them.

The truth is, we can all be Santa Claus.  We can pick those little angels off the Angel Trees of the Salvation Army.  We can donate to food pantries so families can have food at Christmastime and the rest of the year.  We can try to be better parents and love our children more and provide for them a warm, nurturing environment.  It's caring for our neighbors.  That's the true spirit of Christmas I learned from one day of trying to fill the biggest boots there are.  The ones which belong to Santa Claus.