by Robert Fitzgerald

About 20 years ago, I was chosen to be one of Santa's helpers in a small and rural southern town. I was only about 23 at the time and quite slim. But, with the help of some padding I filled out the costume worn by the big man quite nicely. The day of the Christmas parade arrived and I took up my perch atop the fire truck, with a basket of candy to throw to all Santa's children lining the street. The parade circled the town and arrived back at the court house where his elves escorted him into his little hut where the towns children could come and pass on their lists of Christmas wishes and I in turn would pass them on to Santa himself in time for his Christmas Eve delivery.

On about the 3rd or 4th day before Christmas, two young ladies came in to the hut with a young man no more than 4 years old. I invited the gentleman to sit with me and proceeded to ask him what he would like to have that year. "Nothing" came his reply and it really set me back! Everybody wanted something. For two weeks I had everyone in town from 2 years old to 22 providing me with lists so long that the total logistics of UPS, the post office and The National Guard would be hard pressed to fill them, let alone one friendly old man pulled in a sleigh by a handful of reindeer!

"Are you sure", I asked. "There must be something I could get for a fine gentleman like yourself, I pressed.

"No. I just wanted to come and thank you for my new mommy."

I was stunned! I said you're welcome, gave him an extra bag of candy and a coloring book and he climbed down from my lap.

He walked outside with one of the ladies and the other stayed behind to explain.

"We are just baby-sitting today. His mother was killed in a car wreck about a year and a half ago. Last Christmas he came here and asked Santa for a new mommy a few months ago his father remarried. As we drove by he saw your little house here by the road and started crying and screaming until we came back, just so he could thank you. Good-bye, Santa."

I talked to 3 or 4 more children, then closed and locked the door from the inside and fell to my knees, thanking both God and the true Spirit of Santa for giving me this opportunity to see love in a childs eyes. I have never forgotten this experience and tell the story nearly every year. I am now 46 years old and I believe in Santa more now than ever, thanks to that boy. Son, I hope that wherever you are, you have never given up your belief in Santa. I haven't.

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