Friday, December 22, 2006

The kindness of strangers

As I was strapping the kids into the car this morning, off to deliver the last batches of cookies, C's eyes grew huge. "Mom! Look!" he whispered. "Just look!" I glanced across the street, and there getting out of a big red suburban was Santa. Santa hugged an elf, and told her to hurry up.

C stood transfixed in the driveway, blinking as fast as he could. "Mom! Get A out of the car so she can see Santa too!" She refused to leave my arms but waved a little wave and whispered"Hi Santa, Merry Christmas! Hi Santa, hi Santa." Santa finally noticed the two of them and gave a cheerful wave and a booming "Merry Christmas!" The elf emerged from the house, and the two climbed into the car.

I turned to put the kids back into the car, and the C's eyes got even wider. "Mom! Mom!" He couldn't get anything else out. A gasped. And there, pulling into our driveway, was Santa. He climbed out of the car, patted the kids on the head, chatted with them about how good they had been, and then said he had to get going because he was headed to the hospital to see the kids who were sick. C shook his hand and wished him a Merry Christmas. Santa headed out, and a barrage of questions hit me all at once.

"Where were the reindeer? When did Santa learn to drive? How did he know that we were good? I forgot to ask him if he liked chocolate milk or soy milk!" As we went about our day, C told everyone we saw that we had seen Santa. But do you know how he told the story? He talked about how Santa was going to the hospital to see the sick kids. And how sad it would be to be so sick on Christmas that you had to stay in the hospital. And how he hoped that Santa was bringing the sick kids extra presents, so they might feel special.

The kindness of strangers, indeed.