Will charities suffer this year?

I met Santa Claus on Saturday. Not the Santa’s helper who sits in some stores, posing for pictures at a safe distance, but the real one.

My wife and I, with our two grandchildren, were Christmas shopping in a local store. During a couple of trips up and down the aisles, I’d noticed a gentleman wearing a red shirt, red suspenders and the familiar Santa Claus-style head covering. He was wearing a mask.

We were in the checkout line when I heard him asking the kids if they’d each like a candy cane. Using a handkerchief to hold the two pieces of candy, both wrapped in cellophane, he offered them to the youngsters.

He had taken precautions against spreading germs, so we told the kids they could accept the candy.

Then I looked closer. He had long white hair. Behind his mask was a white beard. His eyes really did twinkle. Santa Claus had just given them candy canes, I told the kids.

I asked if I could get a picture of them with him. He took off the mask for a few seconds as I snapped away with my cellphone.

After thanking him, we checked out, as did Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

We’re all busy, more so than normal during the holiday season. COVID-19 has made life even more hectic.

Here’s the thing: I’m certain Santa Claus is as busy as the rest of us. Probably, in view of his age, he’s leery of contact with other people. Yet he goes out of his way to make children happy.

It may be that he’s offering a role model for the rest of us.

This will be a very different Christmas — and not just in the ways that may come to mind at first. We’re all busy. We’re all more tense than normal. Many of us are watching our nickels and dimes more closely than usual.

All of that may lead to forgetfulness about something my new friend Santa Claus has made a priority: making children happy.

Thousands of little boys and girls in our area may get little or nothing under the Christmas tree this year. Their moms and dads simply can’t afford to play Santa Claus as well as they’d like.

Dozens of organizations are trying to ensure every child in the area has a merry Christmas. Normally, I’d have no doubt that residents of our area would come through for them. You always have.

But this year? I’m worried, frankly. Will “charity begins at home” rule the season?

Don’t let it. Please, make a contribution now to help the kids. Don’t hesitate and perhaps forget. Do it now.

You don’t have to be a church elder to live by the Golden Rule. And you don’t have to be dressed in red and sporting a long white beard to be Santa Claus.

I’m certain my new friend would agree, and he knows — because he is Santa Claus.

Myer can be reached at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.


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