Yesterday we had our annual Christmas Sr. Citizens luncheon.
50 or so people gathered around tables,
Some of those who were there have known each other longer than I have been alive.
Each year, while wonderful, is also bittersweet.
There are always empty places at the table.
Yesterday, just an hour or so before the luncheon began many of us walked out of the sanctuary following the casket of one who for many years had joined us around those tables.
Besides a wonderful meal and a time of friendship and fellowship, the lunch always includes a visit by Santa Claus. I don’t remember how it began or who first came up with the idea or how they ever talked me into it, but for years now I welcome those who come and share the meal with them, and then duck downstairs to become Santa. By now they all know what is coming, but they love it just the same. I tease them about whether they have been naughty or nice. I give some of the women a kiss on the cheek. To others I give a Santa Claus hug. They giggle and laugh and tease me right back. After about 20 minutes, Santa leaves with a jingle of his bells and a Santa Claus wave and a promise to visit them again on Christmas Eve.
Here is what I learn again each year.
The child we once were remains a part of who we are no matter how old we are. Giggles and getting a kiss or a hug from Santa are a gift. Wonder and mystery and imagination help make our life whole.
Being Santa exhausts me, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.