I guess I was meant to play Santa Claus each and every year.
I love kids, and I love dressing the part of the Jolly Old Elf come every December. I love hearing the children's wishes being whispered into my ear, and I love the look of excitement and expectation on their young faces. There is just something about a child and their dreams for Christmas that make the Christmas holidays so special.
This year I did something different. I played Santa Claus at a children's hospital here in town. I always wanted to bring a little extra in the way of hope to their faces. Most of the children I saw were either dying or very sick (or had been injured); they did not have much in the way of hope. I brought some of my magic tricks and card games to entertain the children; they loved that! Pretty soon, all tubes, medications, and sad, pale faces were temporarily forgotten because I soon had the children (and even the staff) laughing.
It was wonderful! I only hope I made a difference in one of those children's lives. Lord knows, they certainly could use some joy in their lives. I know some of them would not be home for Christmas, which broke my heart; those were the children I paid the most attention to. I wanted them to know in some small, tangible way that I cared about what was going on with them, and I promised them that I would keep them in my prayers and thoughts.
Last year, I played Santa Claus for an orphanage here in town. Like the sick kids, my heart broke because these kids did not have a home or a family. If there is anything more sad to think about, it is a child who does not have a home or a family to call their own. They are either in foster care, or else they are living out their years in an orphanage. Most of the children I encountered were older than the age of six or had significant problems/disabilities in their lives that made them hard to adopt.
Some of the stories these kids told me threatened to break my spirit; yet I was determined to give them something special for Christmas. I even managed to speed up the adoption process somewhat by conferring with the kids' caseworkers or foster parents, and some of them ended up with a family just days before Christmas, which was nothing short of miraculous.
It was a huge answer to prayer!
In addition to playing Santa Claus at the children's hospital, I also visited children who were homebound because of disabilities or severe illness. Some were so sick they were in hospice care; they were dying, but I wanted to do something special for them before they died. It was intensely heartrending, not to mention, emotionally draining. It was the best (and worst) experience I could have ever had as Santa Claus.
I don't know what I will be doing next year during my tenure as Santa, but I can guarantee you one thing: as long as there is a child in need of encouragement, hope, or cheering up, I will do my level headed best to make Christmas extra special for him or her. They certainly deserve that!