Last night, after work, I went to one of the neighborhood grocery stores to finally drop off my box of canned goods. They'd been riding around in the back of my car for over a week. I parked my car in an upper level parking lot because this particular grocery store has a crazy parking lot that is a mess all the time but particularly hazardously messy at rush hour. It just seemed easier to carry my heavy box of canned goods down a flight of metal stairs in a cold drizzle than to find a spot in the main lower level lot. I walked in the front door and was greeted by a young man arranging the shopping carts. He kindly took my donation box and carried it over to the Harvester bins for me. From the grocery store, I headed down the block and up the street to the The Dime Store. Yes. We have a Dime Store. I am not speaking from the past.
I was looking for one last thing to go in Michael's stocking and I thought maybe the Dime Store would have it. It wasn't really too cold outside. It felt more like Fall than winter, but it did start to sprinkle as I got to the corner of 63rd and Main. I dashed across 63rd and when the light chained, I sprinted across Main reaching the row of store front awnings just as the rain picked up to a bit more than a sprinkle. I opened the door to The Dime Store and there stood Santa. I said "hello Santa!" and he replied "Merry Christmas!" I wished him well and continued on with my hunt for that last stocking gift. I won't say if they did or didn't have what I was looking for, but as I left the shop I smiled at Santa and smiled back with wink. That's when I knew. I had just encountered the real Santa, right down to the white beard and twinkly eye.
I smiled to myself as I made my way back across Main and over to 63rd and all the way back to my car. The magic of Christmas gets tarnished as we grow older. There's not too many surprises under the tree and the myth of Santa has been busted. That's OK because most of that magic is replaced with love and the understanding that being able to be with those we love is more important than pretty wrapped packages or a man in a red suit with a white beard. Michael, the Cabbage and I will spend the evening with his moms tonight. Then, the three of us will celebrate Christmas Eve together on Wednesday. And then Michael and I will travel to Oklahoma on Christmas Day for time with family and friends. So with that my friends, I think I'm going take some time off from this place this week. I've got some healing to do and as therapeutic as it may be at times to write it all out here, it's also a crutch. So I'm going to go wrap a wool blanket around my heart and come back to you guys next week with tales of laughter and love.
Have a safe and wonderful holiday! Merry Christmas and Happy Hanuka and all the rest!