Each December, my wife and I make a visit to see the tree at Rockefeller Center, the windows and decorations along Fifth Avenue, sometimes dinner or a show. This year, we plan to bring three of our grandsons, John, Ben and Alex, and their parents.
It’s always a fun event, but one year that stands out for me is time I went to see Santa by myself, about eight years ago. When we exited the LIRR station across from Macy’s I remarked how excited I was to be seeing Santa at Macy’s. I fondly remembered going there when I was a young child with my parents, maybe 70 years ago.
“Do we have to go?” our grandchildren boys moaned. “We were there last year and the line was so long. Besides, Santa came to our Macy’s in Babylon last week and we gave him our Christmas wish list.”
I could understand their reluctance, the wait was more than an hour to see Santa, but I insisted on going without them and told them, “I’ll call you when I’m done and catch up to you where ever you are.”
I got in line with the hundreds of other parents and children. No one questioned me. I guess they thought my little ones were somewhere about. And really, why would an old man be in line to see Santa all by himself?
I recognized many of the decorations along the way, the train was familiar, some of the other toys and figures were not. After all it was many years since I had been there.
When it was my turn, an elf came out to greet me. She looked around, I suppose wondering where the children were, but I explained I was alone this time.
“OK.” she smiled and led me into Santa’s room.
Time stopped. There he was, exactly the same as I had remembered all those years ago. Santa stood up, held his arms out wide and came to me and gave me a big hug. He stood back and held my shoulders and smiled, “I haven’t seen you in many, many years. Thank you for coming back to see me.”
My eyes filled with tears.
“Come, sit down, we have a few minutes.” We chatted. “I told him I was retired now, had been a children’s librarian, had adopted seven children, who were all grown now, and babbled on.
The elf reappeared and asked if I wanted my picture taken. Of course I said yes.
After the picture, the elf took both my hands and pulled me up, I shook hands with Santa, we gave each other a quick hug, and I was escorted out. I didn’t even say goodbye or “Thank you or see you next year.”
I caught up with my family at Becco and told them at the restaurant of my visit. “I don’t know how Santa recognized me after all those years. I was just a little boy the last time I was there and that was 70 years ago,” I said.
The adults looked at me quizzically but the grandchildren spoke in unison, “Grandpa. Of course he knew you, he’s Santa.”
My oldest grandson added, “You know, Grandpa, that’s his business knowing things like that.”