... I went to visit my dad in the assisted living facility, a regular visit, intended soley to put a smile on his face and spread some holiday cheer. He was missing my mom as was to be expected, being the first Christmas in over a half century spent without her, but I saw a twinkle in his eye, and a smile, when I flicked the switch on the wall, lighting up the little Christmas tree. It was a nice visit and I left him reading a handful of cards that arrived from family and friends, and, anticipating a visit from Pastor Dave the next afternoon. I got a little surprise as I shut the door and headed down the hallway toward the elevator. Coming straight toward me, fully cushioned and fat, dressed in bright red with a long, snow white beard, a loaded bag slung over his shoulder, was - Santa Claus!!
... I stopped walking and stared, speechless for a minute, as he and his "helper" got closer before my "inner child" took over. "Well, Merry Christmas!" I announced. I was greeted by a throaty "Ho!Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas to you!" as the pair passed and rushed down the stairwell at the end of the hall.
... as the elevator door opened on the main floor, I was greeted by the song "Santa Claus Is Coming ToTown", being beat out on an old piano in the style of an elementary school musical. There, in the facility's cafeteria, was my Santa, surrounded mostly by elderly women in wheelchairs or walkers, all chiming in with the music and receiving tiny packages with a candy cane attached to a red bow. Every one of them was smiling and happy for the moment, all their aches and pains forgotten in this magic second. I felt invisible, like the Ghost of Christmas Present, as I stood watching the event at the window, lost in the moment as well.
... Driving home, I realized that I had just received a very special gift from Santa.