Suiting Up

Santa Prep

December 23, 2008
Warren Street Center for Children & Families
Brookyn, NY

The door swung open. I shook a band of sleigh bells wrapped around my fingers. “Ooh, ho, ho,” I belted out. “Oooh, ho, ho, ho…”

I tasted stale coffee on my teeth and smelled the dry-cleaned crispness of the strap-on facial hair. My breath labored through the mustache and beard, while the sounds of the hallway seemed muffled and far away. Through the tunnel vision of wig and stocking cap, I spied my chair at the head of the hall.

I felt like a spaceman—elated and vulnerable—an astronaut in his flight suit lugging a life-support satchel down a preflight hallway. Every fold of clothing had to operate properly—every zipper remain zipped, every patch of Velcro anchor neatly upon its mating patch. Any flaw in the suit—a tear at a seam, a lazy waistband, an exposed stomach pillow, would result in incalculable damage.

The children filed in, class by class, sitting on the floor in front of me.

I wasn’t ready.

I don’t think there was a way to prepare for the children—the adoration—the way they looked at me as something unknown and possibly wonderful.

I thought it would be different, that I would feel confident, more in control. I thought the Santa suit would carry an air of authority, to stand above others in judgment of their virtues—to weigh the behaviors of the naughty and the nice.

Now, I’m in charge. Now, I’m the fat man in the red suit. Now, I’m the boss… but there is none of that.

When the eyes fell upon me, I forgot about the naughty. All I saw was the hope and the wonder. I looked around the room to find it in everyone, the children, the teachers, the parents and grandparents standing in the back. It was the only thing worth looking for. It was the only thing worth finding.

God help the man who has never worn a Santa suit.

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2 Comments

Filed under Personal Essays

2 responses to “Suiting Up

  1. Even when you don’t wear the suit, you bring the gifts of perspective and hope to all of us who are lucky enough to read your writing. :o)

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