I loved watching Mark play with the gifts that the jolly old fellow brought him. Part of our family Christmas was to visit my wife’s sister and her family on Christmas Eve. Early on I learned that she and her husband didn’t believe in telling their children anything that wasn’t totally true. Their kids were told that there was not a person named Santa Claus who delivered presents to good little boys and girls. On one Christmas Eve we were visiting with them and I had walked into the living room and was quietly sitting by myself enjoying the tree.
Their daughter, Leslie, who was probably 5 or 6 at the time, walked into the room and over to the tree and started looking at the wrapped presents around it. We started talking about the fun of opening all those presents on Christmas morning. At some point I must have mentioned Santa. Without turning around to face me, Leslie said loudly, “There is no Santa!” I then asked her where all those presents came from. She quickly spun around and with hands on her hips replied, “Elves! There are elves!”
I’m sure I had a big smile on my face as I hugged her and thought, “When you want to believe something bad enough, you’ll find a way.” Several years later a great friend of ours, Peggy Hart, told me about her mother making a special Santa suit for her father. She recalled how much fun her dad had wearing his suit and making visits during Christmas season.
One day she brought it to my office. It was beautifully made of satin and there were leather boots, a nice wig and beard. She asked me if I would like to have it. I was shocked. I tried it on and it was perfect. I wore that suit many times for several years while making appearances at Christmas parties, schools, some businesses and friends and grandchildren’s house.
Their mom and I were fairly certain that the boys might figure out that it was me in that suit, so I never went into their house. I just waved to them from the street or the sidewalk. After the three boys grew past their Santa days I slowed down on my Santa duties. A few years ago I got in touch with the daughter of the late Peggy to see if she would like to have the suit, and she welcomed that idea.
It’s my hope that “Santa” is still making good little boys and girls happy. Our grandsons are now adults. We are looking forward to some great-grandchildren someday. Yikes! It is 2019! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and a great start to the new year.
Shonk is a 1960 graduate of Southport High School, a ’63 grad of Indiana Central College (now the University of Indianapolis) and a retired bus driver from Beech Grove Schools.