Being Santa

Bruegger’s is my favorite mommy/daughter date spot.

Our local chain is not very busy and we have a very relaxed routine when we’re there. We go in, order two breakfast sandwiches, and set up shop at a corner table for the 45 minutes it takes her to eat an entire sausage, egg, and cheese sammy.

Only once did I make the rookie mistake of ordering one sandwich for the two of us, foolishly thinking I could share with my 12 month old. She ate the whole thing and I was left with the tough outer shell of a bagel as my only sustenance. You live and you learn.

I took her there yesterday for an early lunch. We had a busy week ahead of us and I wanted to spoil her a little bit. We went about our usual routine. Ordered food, sat down, said “hi” to everyone there 6 times, and then got down to the serious business of eating.

A half hour later, when she finally looked up from her plate, she noticed that an older woman had (quite intentionally) cozied up to us at a nearby table. We all said hi to each other of course. I took the break in Kiera’s eating marathon as a sign that she might be ready for some conversation, so we talked about our day. About how Daddy was on a work trip. About how she and I would be going to Aunt Sarah’s for a Christmas party. Then we talked about Santa. As Kiera smiled and whispered “Tanta Tause” under her breath the woman next to us could no longer hold back.

“Does she know SANTA?!?”
“How old is she?”
“Oh my gosh she’s so young, that’s great!”
“She’s so big!”
“Does she like Santa?!”

The flood gates had opened. It was as if the “S” word was a secret password that gave us access to an exclusive Christmas club. A club in which an old woman, a young toddler, and a 32 year old believer were the only members. At least for the time being.

Kiera nibbled at the rest of her food while the three of us sat there and talked about Christmas. She told me about a Santa that visits a local chain every week night. I feigned interest; she tore a schedule and coupon out of her newspaper that she was reading and gave it to me.

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Just then an employee walked by and the woman abruptly stood up and said “excuse me, I have something to do”.

I watched her walk over to the employee and start doling out goodies from her bag. She had brought treats to give to the Bruegger’s employees. As they stood there discussing people’s work schedules, so that she could come back later in the week, I had a feeling of déjà vu; this has happened before.

But it hadn’t. Not to me anyway. It had happened to a friend, and she described it so well in her guest post that I was momentarily confused whether it was her memory or mine. That day, two years ago, she got to be a member of the Secret Santa club. Today, it was my turn.

I let myself think about how funny life is for a second but then quickly dialed back to present day and took this window of opportunity to start packing up our things to leave. I took Kiera out of her high chair and told her she could run around while I put the chair away. But she didn’t run around. She grabbed her coat and marched directly to the older woman, arms out asking for her coat to be “on”, before I had a chance to object. The woman happily obliged and as I hurried over to say thank you and pick up my billowy toddler, the woman whispered something to Kiera.

“I have a present for you today”.

She pulled out a baggie of M&M’s and said “I brought them for the workers who aren’t here, but you’re a good girl and I think you deserve them instead”.

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And then it dawned on me.

This woman IS Santa.

Here I am, just dipping my toes into my lifelong dream of having the official title of Santa Clause, as this woman was (presumably) long ago faced with the unfortunate milestone of retiring as Santa. But she chose not to hang up her Santa hat. She simply found somewhere else to wear it.

“Find somewhere to grow
Grow somewhere we’re needed”
(Hip lyrics for those following along)

 

I want to be just like her when I grow up!

Since this blog is slowly developing into a personal account of things I want to remember and things I want to be, I’m letting it evolve and adding this to my list of life goals.

I will remember this as the day that I realized I will always be Santa, because I always have been Santa. And that a small piece of me is even a little excited for the opportunity to someday be this example for someone else. When there is time, and money, and sleep. I will remember this as the day I got to be a part of the Secret Santa Club, when I was simultaneously united with a stranger and reunited with an old friend across the distance of two years. And I’ll remember this as the day I let my daughter take candy from a stranger, because she wasn’t a stranger at all.

She was Santa.

Happy Holidays everyone! If you’re out there being Santa, feel free to comment and share.

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Happy Holidays – Guest Post

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I was sitting at Panera after a full day of shopping – a bit tired, a bit hungover still from my work holiday party – and feeling ‘eh. I started reading the paper that was filled with the negative state of our country. I no doubt flipped to the comics and horoscopes for an escape. At a nearby table, there was a group of four older ladies finishing up a meal and one walked to the register instead of leaving. She seemed to know the young workers well and handed them a ceramic star she made. It was a very cute moment and she caught my smile as she turned around to leave. I was confronted with the question, “Were you just smiling?” I had to admit that I was, indeed, eavesdropping on their conversation. She then reached into her pocket and handed me this star. She wished me a happy holiday and before I could express my full gratitude, she was off, telling the workers how fabulous they were.

The smile is still on my face as I think about how certain people just bring so much joy to this world. And also, how one little moment can change someone’s outlook. My ‘eh feeling has now been filled with inspiration.


About the Author – Blog Owner’s Note: Our featured author rarely needs a reminder to “be happy” in her day-to-day. Optimism comes naturally to her and she makes it look easy, even though we know it sometimes isn’t. She always has a smile to share and pays if forward by unselfishly bringing joy and inspiration to the lives of others. She also typically has well manicured fingernails. (And she’s single!)

Text Happy

I text myself things I want to remember.

Names of songs or bands, items to pick up at the grocery store, things I want to look up or show people. Little stuff. I use it instead of using the notes function on my phone. There’s something about the call and response that triggers my memory. When I use the notes I tend to forget to check the note that I made myself about the thing that I didn’t want to forget about.

Anyway. This is what I do, text my own phone. I type whatever it is, hit send, my thoughts move onto my next task, and I start to place my phone in its next transient home.

My text chime goes off before the phone even leaves my hand. The instantaneous instinctual reaction of the voice inside my head, is merriment.“Yeahhhh, someone texted me!”

It’s a naïve feeling of sheer joy that lasts approximately half a second until I stupidly realize that the text, of course, is from me. I get excited. Every. Single. Time.

I really crack myself up sometimes.



In this age of communication there are people who criticize our generation, and especially future generations, regarding the constant connection we have to each other via our phones, and how it has led to an increasingly superficial form of communicating; how it is actually threatening and deteriorating our ability to connect with each other on a personal level.

Blah, blah, blah. 

We’ve heard it, and we get it. We’re figuring it out as we go. The fact is that the world is at our fingertips and we’re going to continue to use it in any way that we can. And, as luck would have it, we have a say in what we use it for.

The ability to make someone smile today is literally resting in your hands right now. Text someone. Tell them about a band, song, movie, or restaurant you think they’ll like. Send them something funny that made you think of them, or just say hi. Little stuff.

You can make the voice inside their head go “yeahhhh, someone texted me!”

I know many people who already do this. And I will concede that I personally may be a little too text-happy. (I apologize to those of you who have to bear the brunt of my excessive randomness.) But I am therefore the happy recipient of many snippets of communication in return. I enjoy it. It is a highly entertaining way to live my life.

I get that it’s not for everyone, and there is something to be said about disconnecting from it all. But due to this ease of communication and the fact that we’re all equally aware of its existence, it doesn’t feel particularly great when someone doesn’t take the time out of their day, week, month, or year to simply say hi. Sending a text is not always superficial and it is not difficult or time-consuming. So it is disheartening when someone doesn’t take the time to do so.

All you can do is to just keep paying it forward. It will all come back around someday, I promise. And if it doesn’t, worst case scenario, you can always try texting yourself.

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Care Packages

I have a fantastic idea! I’m going to start sending care packages to people! Why, you ask? Well, there are several reasons, I’m glad you inquired.

  1. Obvious: I want to share the previously discussed happiness.
  2. It will make us feel like we’re in college again.
  3. It is nice to know someone is thinking of you.
  4. I have a weird obsession with small containers, this seems like the perfect opportunity to put them to good use.
  5. Giving people presents makes me happy.
  6. I am a master packer and have an uncanny ability to fit a lot of things into small spaces.
  7. I really enjoy wrapping things in brown paper bags, text-book cover style.
  8. Who doesn’t love getting mail?

When you’ve had a bad day, and your week cannot get any longer, you might come home to a tidily packed and neatly wrapped package on your doorstep.

The first one was mailed today!

A Box of Sunshine! (idea stolen from Pinterest)

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Toast Day

This morning started out like many other mornings. I found it difficult to wake up when the alarm went off, and groggily decided it was a good idea to keep sleeping until I had only the exact amount of time needed to get ready for work. Scientifically calculated down to the last second, in conjunction with knowing that my alarm clock was set ahead of real time by five minutes (no one knows why), just in case.

Remembering that Tom had told me last night when he got home late that he hurt his ankle playing volleyball, I woke him up before leaving to check on him. That is when things started to go downhill. He could not bend it, put any weight on it, and screamed bloody murder when I tried to help him put a sock on his foot. (I’m not gonna lie, this part made me laugh a little bit). After testing it out a little more it was clear that he was in legitimate pain, and that I would be taking over the AM dog parenting responsibilities, plus handling garbage day responsibilities. These tasks had not been factored into my calculations. Even with the extra five minutes that exist outside of alarm clock world, I would be late for work. But that’s fine, not a big deal.

After making a plan to check in on the ankle around lunchtime, I said goodbye to Tom, and Guinness and I both hungrily ran downstairs just as we always do. Discovering we were out of dog food and had only one cup left, versus the normally allotted two, I rummaged through our resources and topped Guin off with some treats and two end-of-the-loaf crusts. I would go to Wegs later, the dog was ecstatic that it was bread day, and we were good to go. Ready to exit the house in no time flat. I threw my purse and keys into the car, let Guinness take care of business on his own while I took the garbage cans and recycling to the curb, let him back in the house, and felt very proud of myself for being so practical and efficient. I would be late, but the morning had almost been salvaged at this point.

When trying to get back into my car to finally leave for work, my car door would not open. To give a short backstory, this wasn’t completely out of the blue. The latch on my driver’s door has been acting up lately. But I had just opened the same door to set my purse in the car and it was fine. This morning was the first time the door had officially refused to open. I stood there for a second, tried the door a few more times, and weighed my options. Knowing that Tom was not in any condition to help, and I was already late, I walked around, got into the passenger’s side, and crawled over to my seat. Not ideal but still, in the grand scheme of things, not really a big deal.

I was on the road. It was raining, and Rochester drivers always struggle mightily with this extremely common weather condition. So after wading my way through stop and go traffic on 490 (that’s the 490 for any Buffalo readers), I was finally on 590 and up to cruising speed. I was about to crank up the music and put my sunglasses on. This exact moment, when I was going 65mph down the highway feeling cool, is when my driver side door decided to open. Completely unprovoked, the door pops open with gusto and starts flapping around in the wind. Kind of a big deal.

After receiving some alarming looks from other drivers and quickly realizing that sharing their sense of panic was not going to be beneficial to the situation, I leaned out, grabbed the handle, and held the door closed for the remainder of my trip. Without realizing it my brain decided it was not worth stopping alongside the highway in the rain, when I probably wasn’t going to be able to fix the door on my own anyway. So I kept driving. One hand on the wheel, the other keeping the door closed, all while trying to keep my anxiety prone self from spiraling out of control, and silently cursing Screenvision for relocating our office so far down 390.

By the time I crossed the threshold into my office I felt exhausted. I was stressed, tired, disappointed in myself for being late, worried about Tom’s ankle, and my own hand/arm was sore from holding my door closed with a death grip. To top it off I was starving and would not be eating my usual toast for breakfast as I had inadvertently, and literally, given away my last piece of bread. I needed coffee badly, so I went into the kitchen and found this waiting for me.

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Imagine my surprise as I realized that while I was speeding down the highway with one door open, one of my co-workers had been setting up a toast bar for all of us to enjoy. Complete with topping options and a giant ‘toast’ sign. I obviously went right into his office to thank him, but I don’t think he actually knows that he made my day.

I know I have a lot of problems to solve throughout the rest of my day. Ankles, doors, dog food and a general grocery deficiency all await me. But right now, as I’m reveling in my fourth-piece-of-cinnamon-and-sugar-toast glory, I couldn’t be happier.