Last Saturday, as I wandered through J.C. Penney, I spied . . . Santa Claus. Well, he looked like a human-sized version of the old elf. He had white hair, a lovely white beard, and a round belly. After all, no one has ever heard of a skinny Santa.
I was not the only person who spotted the gentleman. A little girl, about 6 years old, and her mother approached him.
“My daughter said that the Santa in the mall is cheesy. And his beard is fake. She wants to know if you are the real Santa.”
The man smiled down at the girl. “Yes, I am,” he answered, “but I have a lot of helpers. Have you been good this year?”
The girl solemnly nodded her head.
“That’s good. You have a merry Christmas.”
I am sure he smiled again. Maybe he winked and nodded. And away he went, strolling through the store, St. Nick in blue jeans and a navy jacket. The girl and her mother melted into the crowd of shoppers.
And I stood in the sweater section, grinning and thinking, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!*”
[*Francis P. Church, New York Sun, Sept. 21, 1897.]