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Edie at home in her kitchen.

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The View from Mary's Farm

Santa's Home

November 8, 2010

Hello, 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.
Edie
(If you haven't ordered your copy of States of Grace, it's available on my website, www.edieclark.com. Makes a great gift!)

Santa's Home
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, Iím 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 wasnít 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 Yearís, 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.

Selected Works

Articles
In 1992, the Bishop of Worcester condemned St. Joseph's Catholic Church and ordered it closed. The parishioners refused to leave, sleeping on cots and on the hard pews. For thirteen months this was their life. In July of 1993, they were removed by the police. In many ways this was the blossoming of their faith. Originally published in Yankee Magazine in November 1993.
Growing up, nothing I could do seemed to please my mother and nothing she said made sense to me. But when my mother, on the threshold of death, came to live with me, I found what seemed to have been lost forever. Originally published in Yankee Magazine, May 1995
(The follow-up article to Miracle at St. Joseph's.) The Bishop turned to them and said, "Your prayers have been answered, the hard hearts have softened." Originally published in Yankee Magazine, December 1996
A reflection on the power of cooking and friendship and the concept of family. Originally published in Yankee Magazine, November/December 2007
Memorial Day, Harrisville, New Hampshire 1995. Originally published in Yankee Magazine, May 1996
My Articles
Libraries occupy a special place in the heart of a town. Evening events at the library give a strong sense of community and make it seem like a great place to live. And in the wake of the online revolution small town libraries have found a way to not only survive but to be indispensable.
In December 2008 an epic ice storm left virtually the entire state of New Hampshire without power. The residual effects of that storm paralyzed the Monadnock Region almost through Christmas. A first person account.
In 1994, sixteen-year-old Billy Best was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease. After several treatments, he ran away to avoid chemotherapy. What happened after that may have been a miracle.
Roxanne Quimby once lived primitively in the Maine woods. Today she owns 90,000 acres of those woods, and her goal is to create a national park to preserve the landscape forever. So why do so many people wish she'd just go away?
Multi-million dollar border stations are rising along our line between US and Canada. What was once the "friendliest border" has become deadly serious.
Renowned short story writer, Andre Dubus, reflects on the accident that cost him his legs.
A trip to Poland discovers a beloved family friend
An elegy for the master of the short story.
Fall comes to The County
Thousands seek healing from this innocent, comatose child.
A complete listing of articles published since 1978
Fiction
An encounter with a sick fox brings a young woman to the heart of her grief