January 1, 1970Hello, friends,
It's snowing up here this morning, blowing a gale. The season is upon us, the stove is stoked. I hope you have a calm and peaceful season. Here's my story to go with it.
(If you haven't ordered your copy of States of Grace, it's available on my website, www.edieclark.com. Makes a great gift!)
In the downstairs of the farmhouse here, I have a small furnished apartment that I sometimes rent out. Last year I rented it to Santa. A portly man in his fifties, he was serious about this Santa business. No fake beard and rented suit for him. He had a big, full, bushy, pure white beard that flowed to his chest, a cloud of white hair and a big round body. When he came in early November to look at the apartment, he explained that he would only be here for a short while, that he had many bookings across the country and would be traveling quite a bit during the Christmas season. As an example, he told me that he was to be the Santa on stage for the Boston Pops. He was extremely believable.
When he came that day, he did a song and dance routine for me in my kitchen. He danced lightly across my kitchen floor, a heavy man with nimble feet. His voice was a soft tenor and as he moved across the old floorboards, he sang the Santa songs (you better not pout, you better not cry, you better not shout, I’m telling you why, Santa Claus is coming. . . ). His red suit was exquisitely tailored, the black boots made by a cobbler of old as was his belt, shining black leather and a bold brass buckle that held in his ample waist. Oval, rimless glasses, half down his nose completed the picture. It seemed to me he really must have come down from the North Pole for this short while, to stay in my house and tend to his duties around New England.
So he took the apartment. Perhaps he had a sleigh and eight tiny reindeer stabled elsewhere but so far as I could see, to get around to his various commitments, he drove a red Prius. Glancing out the window from above, I could see him leave the apartment in full regalia, tuck himself into the little car and set forth. I would sometimes pass him on the road, not hard to spot, the big red man behind the wheel of the little red car, his white beard glowing from within.
Even when he was not playing Santa, he seemed like Santa. On the rare days when he took a day off, he dressed in red and white striped long underwear underneath a pair of dark green woolen overalls, red piping running down the side of each leg, and red clogs. He would sometimes emerge from the apartment, dressed like this, his dog on the leash and together they would walk up the road. That is to say, I rarely if ever saw him dressed like an ordinary fellow, doing ordinary things. After a while, I wasn’t sure what was real.
I hoped my guests might catch a glimpse of my Santa when they came here on Christmas Day. But, for days, before and after Christmas, as snow sifted down, he was gone. I never saw him. And then, sometime after New Year’s, he came home, and it seemed to me that he slept for days. Sometime in February, he left for good. He never said where he was going. When I was cleaning up, getting ready for the next tenant, I found tinsel on the floor and a big box of especially nice looking candy canes in the closet. So I knew Santa really had been here, at least for a while.