It wasn’t going to be an easy day for me to be Santa Claus because I was having a difficult time trying to smile. But it wasn’t because I’d be alone on Christmas Day. And it wasn’t because I was feeling sorry for myself – I always prefer to see the glass, as half-full – regardless of the odds.
But the funk that I was feeling, wouldn’t go away and as I packed my suitcase, I took a deep breath and said a prayer.
I don’t remember the last time I prayed for anything. I’m not religious but I’m spiritual, and I believe in God. And Santa Danny’s message is always the same, regardless of race, belief or non-belief. And that message is love.
Love is the best present that anyone can receive, but it’s difficult to feel love when your heart’s broken and the usual spark in your eyes, is now barely flickering. And then I realized that I was feeling sorry for myself, and abruptly ended my prayer!
But I still had an empty, and hollow feeling.
And who wouldn’t after learning that your friend’s husband died in a horrific auto accident in North Van? Several eyewitnesses tried to free him from his vehicle which was engulfed in flames. And now Mouna and her six-year-old child had lost the love of their hubby and father. The Celebration of Life service was last Sunday, but I wasn’t able to attend because I had to take Santa Danny to a private function in Port Coquitlam.
And if that wasn’t enough to depress even the most cold-hearted – I got a text message from my gal pal Suzette who was in VGH awaiting brain surgery. She was allowed to be home with her husband Myles and Lucas, their 11-year-old son. At least they’ll be together for the holiday season and then Suzette will be flown to Calgary for the surgery.
I went to the hospital last Friday morning and had a nice visit with her. I joked with her that I had always wanted to see how she looked in the morning – but didn’t expect to see all of the wires attached to her head. But she smiled at my suggestion that we pose for a selfie.
“As long as I can wear a hat”, she said. But the hat didn’t conceal the wires, which can be seen in our selfie.
Suzette has been like a sister to me and I love her and Myles very much.
So last Sunday, when I took Santa Danny to the private function in Port Coquitlam, it was difficult to get psyched up for the gig. I’ve never considered myself a great actor, but on that day, my Santa would have won an award for being able to conceal the hurt in his heart. But it was all of the smiles and hugs from the children and adults, that made me happy. Flora and her family made me feel so welcome and I know that Santa Danny is still smiling from that visit because they made him so happy.
And so did the amount of money that Santa Danny raised this year – $1,200! That’s $200 more than last year. And every penny goes to the BC Cancer Foundation for cancer research. They saved Santa Danny’s life in 2009.
And now it was Sunday, December 23rd, and I was going to a family get-together at Sullivan Hall, in Surrey.
For several years, Santa Danny has visited Surrey Honda on the first Sunday in December. Dimpy K., my contact person at the dealership, had asked if I was available on December 23rd, for a private function that Nasir, the general manager was hosting and how much would I charge for the visit?
I replied that Santa Danny would be pleased to attend that function and that there wouldn’t be a charge. After all, Surrey Honda is one of Santa’s favorite visits!
During the December 2nd visit to the Surrey Honda Christmas Party, I met Nasir’s wife Wendy, and we discussed their upcoming family party on December 23rd. I was excited and honored to be a part of their family get together. In previous years, Wendy’s brother had been the Santa, but after many years, he decided to retire. His legendary Santa would be a hard act to follow.
Wendy had requested that I arrive at 2:40 pm and she would meet me at the side door. She had arranged for me to use the kitchen to change into my Santa Danny outfit, which usually takes me twenty minutes.
It was raining as I left the house – which didn’t help my spirit and I arrived at the hall parking lot at 2:15 pm. I parked at a remote spot and sat in silence as I watched the families entering the building.
Soon the parking lot was full, and I got the signal from Wendy. She met me and my suitcase-on-wheels at the kitchen door.
We discussed how they wanted Santa to enter the hall, and the rest would be up to me. And just before leaving the room, she said that her family was taking up a collection for Santa Danny’s cancer fund for research!
So far, they’d received over $200.
And as our eyes met, I couldn’t hide the tears that were forming or my quivering lips. I tried to protest – I wanted Santa’s visit to be my Christmas gift to them. We hugged and then she left the room.
And then I cried.
I took a deep breath as a warm glow rushed through my body. My heart was filling with love and joy that had alluded me these past few weeks. I filled Santa’s bag with all of the gifts that Wendy had gathered, and then I walked around the building to the front door, and then I made my entrance.
As Santa Danny did his Ho-Ho-Ho’s, the room lit up with smiles and cheers! And for the next hour, I experienced a joy that I hadn’t felt since first becoming Santa in 2012 and visiting the palliative patients at SMH on that Christmas Eve.
Here is a link to that story: Santa Danny’s story
After Santa Danny left the hall and walked back around the building to the kitchen entrance, Wendy’s brother met me at the door. He introduced himself to me, and I told him that I hoped that my visit compared favorably to his version. We smiled and shook hands. He said he had been waiting to unlock the door for me.
And then Wendy entered the kitchen, and began shaking a can in her hand – and then she reached in and pulled out a handful of bills and change. She counted it and said it was almost $300.00! And that opened the floodgate of tears again.
Before leaving, Wendy caught up to me and said that her daughter had another $20 to add! I drove home singing Jingle Bells to no one in particular. Wendy and Nasir’s family raised $319.50 for cancer research!
It’s currently Christmas Eve morning, and I’ve finally got that beautiful Christmas Spirit again! And if things aren’t going too well for you, and you’re feeling alone – try believing in magic – like you did when you were a kid.
Because now I do!
Dedicated to Wendy and Nasir, and their families.
Today’s tunes from Danny’s library (purchased):