How I Became The REAL Santa

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Title says it all. The true story of how I became the real Santa

How I Became the REAL Santa
I dedicate this to all the believers.
This is the absolute true story of how I became the REAL Santa.
When I was young Christmas eve was spent with immediate family. You know, when you get the stupid underwear and PJ's? Mom and Dad would always throw in a toy or two so we wouldn't riot.
Now Christmas day was a different ball of wax. My family of six would join my Mom's sister's family of six and we would all go to Nana and Papa's house. Nana and Papa were my Mom's Mom and Dad and they were AWESOME. We all still call them Nana and Papa. There were always multiple generations of our family at the Christmas day get togethers. Sometimes as many as 3 great Grandmas! One of whom stood out at 4 foot nothing, with bright red hair that I still don't know was natural or not. She was a very jolly, chubby little woman. The kind of person you just wanted to hug.
Kids were running around everywhere. Food was homemade and the house smelled like heaven. There was usually a minimum of 10 adults, talking in small groups, rushing around the kitchen, running after a little one, having one too many Budweiser's. Everyone was happy. Very little of the normal family drama ever reared its head at Christmas time.
At some point a few of the adults would preoccupy us kids and lead us downstairs to the previously gift free Christmas tree that had somehow been piled high with PRESENTS for all the kids from Santa. Just when we thought it couldn't get any better….out comes my wonderfully, ridiculously costumed, jolly little Great Grandma Jo as Santa himself! Right there in our Grandma's basement! How did we get so lucky to have Santa come see us himself? It was magical and every one of us grandkids still remember it as our favorite thing about Christmas. I was the oldest and I vaguely remember "knowing" one year. I never said anything to the other kids. I never questioned anything. As far as we were all concerned, she was Santa.
Fast forward a few hundred years…actually about 48 years. I lived a lot of life in those 48 years. Some was great, some was terrible. I made horrible decisions when I was young. I did some things I regret. I did many I can't regret because everything that happened brought me on this journey I am about to tell you. Every word is true. I am not embellishing my story for your approval or to sell more books. This is not a work of fiction. I am very sane and have never been so lucid or sure of my future in my entire life. I hope you enjoy.
In 2012 I quit drinking and realized how bad my numerous spinal and joint issues were. I could no longer pretend I was okay. I wasn't drinking the pain away. I was advised to file for disability and get my lower back "taken care of". I, of course waited almost a year to actually file a claim. After nearly 3 years of not being able to work and being told by an attorney not to worry "your case is solid", I was finally denied and my claim was closed. I was devastated. I went into a severe downward spiral of depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and a complete and total disregard for my well-being, hygiene and life in general. I stopped caring about me. I withdrew from everyone except a few people I managed to get out to see on a karaoke night at the local VFW. Singing karaoke became my only source of any kind of joy. I barely even talked to my kids and family.
I had also stopped shaving for the first time in my adult life. This was the beginning of what I can only describe as something magical. Follow me…as I become SANTA.
In February 2017 I started my Facebook group PIF West Pasco. I had time on my hands and was offering to repair computers for local residents for free. It turned into something really wonderful very quickly. I was flooded with like minded people wanting to help their neighbors. February 13th, I went to another place to sing and wasn't feeling well. We left early and when I got home I just felt wierd. I needed to sleep. I lay my head down and all I could think was "he said he was tired so he laid down and never woke up"...over and over and over again in my head. No sleeping now. Suddenly I felt myself hearing the words "be smart, not stubborn". I am NOT an ER kinda guy. Don't like them. Don't like going. I didn't feel like I was dying so I had no reason to call 911. After a few minutes of the voice in my head saying "be smart, not stubborn". I called Dad and said "I think I need to go to the ER". I was told I had been having a heart attack for at least a few hours! WHAT? The next morning I was having heart cath surgery on my right coronary artery. When I got home from that trip I felt awful. I had zero energy, zero motivation. I slept nearly 15 hours a day and couldn't walk to my mailbox without needing a nap. I was referred to a new cardiologist who found more blockages in the left side of my heart and put 2 more stents and some kind of balloon somewhere in there. When I got home from that trip I felt great. I still needed (and still need to) work on my stamina and my pain, but I felt great.
At this point my beard was long, full, untrimmed and scraggly, but it had great potential and I got complimented on it daily.
 One day I went and got a trim. One of my friends came up and said I had a great Santa beard and her husband had an extra suit I could have if I would help him "play" Santa at a nursing home he's been doing for a few years alone. He also wanted to take the night off from being Santa at the VFW because his lovely wife's birthday has been delayed by their Christmas party. I agreed and eventually got the suit. I had been growing more excited about "playing" Santa and thought, what a great story to add to the things I've done in my life. Hey, I "played" Santa one year, ha ha …. I have never been so wrong. 
Once I got the suit from my friend Ed, he told me I was going to really enjoy "playing" Santa for the old folks at the nursing home. I knew I would too, but I had no idea what was in store for me before the nursing home even happened.
I went to Illinois to visit my son Jake. We had a great time. I was encouraged even more while I was there to "play" Santa.
When I got home from my trip a friend asked me to "play" Santa at the biker bar where she works. I bought some canned spray and whitened my beard and got on the Harley and headed to the party which was being held outside. Beautiful sunnny day in Florida. People were honking and waving. I even saw pictures and videos people had posted of me. Eighty-five degrees that day! Needless to say I was hot. I felt like I was wearing an oven bag. I hadn't had one of my "episodes" for quite some time so I wasn't thinking about it. I had also been starving myself to lose weight over the previous few weeks. I got light headed and went to lay down in the shade. Next thing I knew, a guy was asking me if I was okay. He helped me up and I told Dad we needed to head home. We started walking to the car and...plop...down I went again. This time when I came to people were worried and called 911. By the time the EMTs got there I was a little coherant a trying to make light of the situation. The EMTs had a ball on the radio..."ETA to ER 15 minutes...55 year old male...last name Claus, first name Santa". Laughter comes back from the nurses of course. When I got there they were unbelievably nice. I was so dehydrated that my magnesium levels had dropped and my kidneys were affected. Two and a half days later I was fine and ready to do my next Santa thing. 
First "miracle"…I decided that I needed a whiter beard and mustache because that paint was awful, so I posted in a local group for a hairdresser. Me being the impatient, tunnel-visioned psychotic that I am when I get an idea, I couldn't wait for the help I was offered so I went on a mission to find a salon. I decided to think about where to go over an egg white omelet at my favorite local restaurant, when low and behold, out of nowhere (I've eaten there 10 times at least) there's a Studio DeRave I never noticed, right next door! I popped in and reluctantly asked if anyone knew how to whiten a beard and mustache. Much to my surprise, a phone call and a very short wait produced Kathy. Big smile, warm greeting and a willingness to try something new. She hadn't done facial hair before. I told her I was "playing" Santa and wanted my beard whiter but I had very little money. She said we'd work out a deal for Santa so off we went. Goop brushed in, foil wrapped, purple shampooed. Laughing the whole time. Everyone in the shop was kind of invested in what was happening. I would never have believed I could have fun at a hair salon. Once the coloring was finished, she blew it all dry and straightened the beard. She turned me around in the chair so I could see the final product. I was astonished! Now, mind you, my mustache has always grown straight down into my beard like a goatee. I have tried unsuccessfully many times to do the Hercule Poirot curly thing with my mustache. When I looked at myself in the mirror, my mustache was separate from my beard and was doing the curly-Q thing! She didn't trim it or even touch it with anything other than the brush when she was applying the goop. I swear it was like looking at another person in the mirror. I saw Santa!
I was so excited I practically ran home and put on the suit. I didn't have gloves or a good pair of boots yet, but I thought I looked so good I went out to the main road and just stood there like a psychopath waving at people. They were honking and waving. It was pretty cool. I was "playing" Santa and people were paying attention.
My crazy, idea-driven brain started turning out ideas. Where can I 'play" Santa? Who would come see me? How do I get a "gig"? How can I help some people in my PIF group? BINGO! I'll make the kids in my group the same memory I still have of Santa coming to my Grandma's house to visit and making me feel special. How do I implement the idea? How do I know if they'll accept me "playing" Santa in their homes? These people don't really know me. So, I posted in my group that I would be available for "Santa stop offs". I'll come to your home and visit the kiddos, tell a quick story maybe, give them a small gift and let them know Santa is "real". How do I keep Santa separate from PIF? Create a Santa page…The Pasco Santa is born. Messages start flowing in. My book I'm writing people in on the hour from 8-noon then 6pm-9pm starts to fill up. Full for the 23rd…including the VFW party. 22nd in Port Richey…full. 21st in Spring hill…nearly full. I start popping in at Sims park in New Port Richey. Everyone seems to be accepting me "playing" Santa. People are sharing and following my page. I'm hearing from people thru multiple platforms. I'm doing things I would never have dreamed. Making people smile everywhere I went. People looked up from their phones. They waved and greeted me with open arms and joy in their eyes. It was incredible. I wanted to do more so I came up with a Lunch with Santa idea. Within 4 days of the idea I had it set at a local eatery in Hudson. I spoke with Rich about the idea and he said his kid’s meal price was $5.99 so I told him I would "charge" people $12 to come eat and take pictures with me. 
"Miracle" #2…when I told him I was promoting myself through only my PIF group and they were the ones who would be coming, he told me to "charge" $5 per child and he would donate the food for up to 50 kids! The turnout was small but the ones who came really enjoyed it and I made a couple new friends in the owner and manager.
I did a party for a local FB group. I stopped for tooth medicine at CVS on the way and a guy asks me to stop by his car on my way out because his son had been acting up lately. I went over to the car and peeked in. He was pretty surprised to see me. His sister was asleep and Grandma was waking her up but she didn't show too much interest. So I get to the party and who is the first person I see but the same little girl from CVS. She was wide awake and she ended up sitting with me to have lunch. She followed me everywhere I went. It was priceless. I had a great time and it gave me the confidence I needed to do everything else.
At this point I was coming up with my Santa story from questions the kids were asking me: Yes I am the real Santa. I don't live at the North Pole year-round. My reindeer stay at the North Pole because they can't handle the Florida weather for very long. Those "mall Santa's" work for me as my helpers so more children get to see Santa before Christmas Eve. I wasn't always Santa. There is a story book version of me so children of all cultures understand. I'm not the Santa from the movies. I don't always use my Santa voice. How can you not believe in me if I'm standing right in front of you? That kind of stuff just flows out of me when I'm talking to a kid. I seem to have a knack for answering children's questions in a way they can relate to and they believe in me because I do.
Now, a lot of people in my PIF group started bringing me new and used toys…mostly stuffed animals. The new toys were a cinch, but how do I give a kid a used toy from my Santa bag? They aren't stupid. Come on brain, think. AHA…this is what I came up with to give out the used toys. When I visited a home where my little trinkets weren't gonna cut it, I would say, "wait a minute, I feel some magic happening outside, can I come right back?" I'd run out and put a used toy in my bag and go back in. Here's my story: Every once in a while, one of my elves wants to retire. Do you know what retire means? It means they want to spend more time with their family. Whenever they retire I ask them for one toy out of their private toy box and I go out and find a very special young lady/man to take care of it for my elf. Are you special enough? Of course, at that point I could probably pull a stick out of my bag and they'd love it, but when they saw the things I actually pulled out of that bag, their expressions and reactions were indescribable with mere mortal language. I had parents contacting me to let me know their kid was sleeping with that toy or won't let that toy go. It was, if I may say, genius!
"Miracle" #3…one of my group members tagged me in a post where a gentleman had mentioned trying to find hard working families to help for Christmas. We got to talking and I told him I had a list of families I was trying to help get gifts for. I explained my group and he asked me to meet him at Target. He spent $250 buying gifts for 10 kids on my list. I don't mean just dropping the cash. We actually shopped and put thought into what we were doing. This same Christmas angel contacted me again offering to help me with my dental bills. I told him I would honestly rather he help a few more of my families. Once again, without hesitation, "meet me at Target". I got there before him so he told me to get what I needed and he'd meet me at the register. I'm not a politician so I'm not very good at spending other people's money, so I tried to be frugal and get as many gifts for as many kids as I could without seeming disrespectful. He again kept his word and met me a spent another $150 on gifts for kids he didn't even know actually existed.
"Miracle" #4 I was doing all of this scheduling, shopping, stop offs, answering tons of messages and posting a story every night with an abscessed tooth on one side of my mouth and a broken, open nerve tooth on the other side. I was absolutely miserable. I made a dental appointment in between stops one day. I told his assistant I was "playing" Santa and needed a Christmas miracle because I can't smile. Her and the dentist (who was fantastic at dentisting by the way) consoled me in my embarrassment at how bad I had neglected myself and assured me that Santa would be taken care of. It's a time-consuming process, but it has started and I can't believe how wonderful these strangers were to me, because I'm Santa. I know they will deny any kind of special treatment to any of their patients, but I know better.
The moment I KNEW: December 12th I had set up a stop off for a lady whose grandbabies were going to be there and they hadn't spent Christmas together in 2 years. I was so nervous walking into a stranger’s home wearing a costume…what was I thinking? This is crazy. I should leave right now before I embarrass myself beyond redemption. The doorbell is ringing…. did I press that? Oh no…I hear them coming. The door opens to a beautiful home filled with what was obviously a loving family. Then it happened. The little boy saw me and the absolutely unbridled look of joy and wonder that I saw on his face was it. I was hooked. I WAS SANTA! His baby brother couldn't take his eyes off me.
From that smile on: I became Santa. I was no longer "playing" a part. I had become Him. I cannot explain it any simpler than I AM SANTA. I have made Christmas magic happen. I am real. The magic is real. The power and compassion of Santa are real. I've been telling people that Santa lives in the hearts and imaginations of people of all ages all over the world. Of course, I'm real. I tell my local kids that all those mall Santa's are my helpers but I am the real deal. I am the one standing in your living room. How can you deny I'm real? I hope other local Santa's tell their kiddos the same thing…I'm just some guy who helps him…the real Santa, where ever he may be.
I have been chosen. By what? By whom? I can't tell you that. I am not a religious man, but I believe in the spirit of St Nicholas. I believe that spirit lives through me. My heart attack changed me. Not because it was a near-death experience, but because it was a new life being offered me. I am the man I've been longing to become all my life.
Now that you know how I became the real Santa, please allow me to share some of the stories and memories I made on this most amazing of journeys. The following are actual stories from my The Pasco Santa page as they were written the night after my stops for that day. I have added more details to them because the page stories needed to be short.
Santa is powerful! I met a young man whom I had heard was not being "nice" to his sisters and Mom. We were sitting at a table with his siblings all jolly and asking me questions. I turned to him suddenly, with a straight face and asked him "what's this on my list about you not being nice to your sisters and not listening to your Mom"? He looked at me in shock and I saw shame in his eyes, along with the "how do you know that?" look. He told me in a much more reserved voice than earlier that he was sorry and would do better. I told him getting attention for being bad is not the kind of attention he's looking for. Santa got to that boy if even only for a minute or two. I hope for much longer because he is not a bad boy. He's just asking for more attention the wrong way.
Wow, Santa had another AMAZING day in Pasco County! Stopped by Sims Park again and said hi to some kiddos. I even had a few toys in my bag.
But here is the kicker: I visited a young lady and her older (non-believing) brother. I told her I was there to show her I am real and make sure she stayed on my nice list. The poor girl couldn't believe I was standing there. I asked if she knew I was real.  She said I know, you're in my house! The look on her face is why Santa is real and why I'm having so much fun. After the initial shock wore off I said "I hear there's a non-believer in this house". The girl immediately threw big brother under the sleigh HoHoHo.  I looked at him and said "do you not think I'm real?" I'm right here. Do you think I'm just some fat old guy in a suit? "No" he replied. How did I know to come here? Shrug…I said "I think you have me mistaken for the story book, movie version of me". I think there was a tiny bit of fear mixed in with a whole bunch of belief and I smiled at him and shook his hand. I saw in his eyes and his demeanor, a believer. 
Last night I was out and about, looking at lighted homes. I came across a very nicely decorated house with enough lights to see it from the North Pole. I went to the gate of the fenced yard and gave a hearty Ho Ho Ho. A nice gentleman came to his door (about 50 feet from the gate) and did the WHAT? double take. He then screamed in excitement for his young son to "come see this". They came outside and I told them how proud I was of the great job they did on their home. I think I made both their night! Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night. 
My friends Ed and Linda are the ones responsible for my transformation into Santa Claus. I went with them to a nursing home in Clearwater. Ed took the dining hall and I started going room to room. They had staff put out gifts at every doorway with a name. I am here to tell you as a very sane, fairly intelligent 55-year-old man, Christmas magic and Santa are both very real. I told each resident that I was there to let them know I am real and say a quick hello while I'm on vacation in Florida.
There are no words to describe the feeling I felt tonight. Seeing the absolute joy in some of those faces was indescribable. I could see wonder in some eyes. I could see them thinking holy cow, this guy is Santa. 
*Get the tissues*
One lady was 91. Her daughter was there and told me she was blind. I asked if she could hear me. Yes, she said. The lady sat staring off without any emotion on her face. I got very close so she could feel me near her. I told her I was Santa and I am real and I brought her a gift. I placed it on her leg and she slowly moved her tiny old hand to it. I guided her toward the gift very gently with my gloved hand. At that moment something came over me and I said "Miss Mary, would you like to "see" what I look like"? Her daughter excitedly said "Mom he's going to let you feel his face so you can see that he's real". I gently took her fragile old skeletal hand in mine and I moved her hand all around my face so she could feel my beard and "see" what Santa looks like. I saw her face change from expressionless to joy and love. Her eyes welled up a bit and she actually giggled and said "Santa's here" in her tiny old voice. I was moved to tears and had to take a minute before going to the next room.
Another man got so excited when I walked in I couldn't help but give him a huge hug. Again, the unbridled joy was palpable. Thank you to Ed and Linda for starting this whole thing. Thank you to the staff at the home. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.
A lady contacted me and told me she was bringing her son to see me at my event at the rec center. She informed me that he was the child from an earlier Amber Alert and he was having issues feeling safe and had been asking for Santa to help. I told her to be sure to let me know when she got there. She introduced me to her son "Sean" (name changed). He was very quiet and reserved but I could tell he was into Santa so we took a couple of pictures. While I had a second with him next to me I grabbed his arm gently and I whispered to him that I was sorry I wasn't there to keep him safe before but I am watching now and Mom has my number if you ever need me. I gave him a set of my bells and told him they would help protect him and let me know where to find him if he needed me. A week later Mom sends me a picture of Sean in his bed with my bells attached to his headboard so I know where to find him. I'm going to go visit him soon…out of costume.
I posted on my FB account that being Santa was a double-edged sword because I was doing so much for other people's kids and had nothing for my own. A nice lady saw my post and contacted me. She asked how old my kids were. I told her my 2 oldest were happy just having Santa as their Dad, but I was sad that I had nothing for my 9-year-old. She asked what he was into. I told her those silly Pokémon cards is his big passion right now. She replied that she actually had some cards she would send me for him. I don't know a lot about Pokémon, but there were 104 cards in the binder she sent. The next week Jake calls me to thank me for his gifts. He says "Dad I really love the Pokémon cards". I asked if he thought any of them were good cards. He tells me yes, there are a couple rare ones. At this point I'm not sure if he even knows what rare means so I asked him to take a picture of the one he called a "Rare Ancient Mew". I looked it up online and to my astonishment a similar, not as old, Rare Ancient Mew is going for up to $800! I, of course, did a whole lot of double checking trying to confirm it is actually a rare card….it is! Along with a few others going for up to $150 a piece. This binder could be worth a few thousand dollars! At this point I am completely freaking out. I immediately contacted the nice lady who sent them and told her what I had learned after I had already sent them to Jake. I apologized and let her know if I had known earlier I would have encouraged her to sell them. This wonderful stranger whom I've never met, never done anything for, replied "no, we knew exactly what we were doing. It is for all the good you did". I was floored. Once again, here come the tears. More Santa magic happening through me. But…. this time was FOR me. Thank you to this uniquely kind person and of course…Santa for helping make me look good. I can take no credit. 
Boy, today was another emotional ride. Stopped by a few houses to say hi to some really wonderful kids. Good job Moms and Dads. There are just too many awesome things happening to put it into one story. My stop this morning was with an absolutely beautiful little girl and her sister who could use our prayers. My dear friend Lori was driving me around that day. She showed up in a cute elf outfit. This Mom contacted me because she had trouble getting her daughter to a mall for pictures due to her being on a ventilator. When we walked in the home was decorated beautifully and the older sister was very excited to see us. We took a few pictures with her and Mom. As I sat letting Mom take pictures I saw Dad give my elf money. I was asking for donations for the stops. Then Dad got the little girl out of bed with her tubes all still attached and brought her over to me. I held her for a few pictures and we went to leave. I was first out and having a hard time holding back my emotions. When I got outside the door I turned to Lori and she was holding the money he gave her, crying saying "I know you don't wanna keep this". I took the money and went back in and gave it to Mom saying go get your daughter something. Mom started crying, I couldn't hold back any more. Lori and I got in the truck and broke down. There's a little more to this story that I'm not adding here.
Today was another wonderful day. I met so many smiling faces. I popped into Walmart in Port Richey and walked around saying hi. I met a bunch of really awesome kids. I had cookies. I had nice chats. I saw a group of bikers with their Harleys all decked out and presents for some kiddos. Of course, I had to jump out and tell them all thank you in the middle of US 19 Ho Ho Ho.
Then there was a gorgeous young lady that thought Santa was kinda lame. I get it, but I explained that I was real and sitting right next to her in her living room. I gave her a cute little prayer doll. I think she might be on my side now. I got a message from Mom saying the daughter hadn't let go of that doll since I left. Santa's magic, his beard, and his suit have powers some people aren't aware of. Believe!
Today was AMAZING! I got to stop in at Shriner's Hospital for Children. It has been a dream of mine for many years to give something back to them. I met so many smiling faces. So many heroes. So many tough-as-nails youngsters. Not one without a smile! There were two extra special moments there. An absolutely gorgeous 4-year-old girl missing her right leg from the knee down came literally running with her walker around the Christmas tree. When we saw each other both our eyes lit up and she flew over and gave Santa a great big hug. We talked for a couple minutes and I told her how proud I was with her progress and that she was one of my new heroes. The look on her Mom's face was so sweet when she took our picture. I also met a non-verbal young lady who spoke volumes with her eyes. I noticed her checking out my bells so I gave them to her and she smiled really big for a picture all the while banging those bells from hand to hand like a tambourine. Her Mom went to get the bells from her to give them back to me. I told her there was NO WAY Santa was taking those bells from that girl. She rang them all the way out the front door!
Then there was Jake. He was a riot! Both legs in casts couldn't quell his energy or thirst for life. He told me a couple stories about how he's gonna tackle bad guys. I told him he was exactly the kind of boy I keep a real close eye on because I might recruit him to be Santa one day. Need I say more on that? Ho Ho Ho....I also had to inform him that he wasn't on my naughty or nice list.... he’s on my COOL list. 
Then I stopped on Clearwater beach and walked the pier and down the beach saying hi to everyone. Took a bunch of pictures with people from Canada, Oregon, Missouri, Michigan and France! Everyone knows Santa! I was in my vacation outfit.
How else could I top a day like that off?
I stopped in at a local Nursing home tonight to see about 40 beautiful young ladies and about 15 tired bachelors… he he.
When I walked in they were lined up singing "Here Comes Santa Claus". I went to every lady in that place and gave them all a huge hug and a kiss. I shook the men's hands and wished them luck. Ho Ho was a gloriously wonderful day!
No names but I had to share this message with all of you. Copied from messenger from a true believer in the Christmas spirit.... Santa is very proud of this Mommy!
"Santa!!! There has been such an abundance of people offering to help me that my Christmas wish is for other little boys and girls to please have a very Merry Christmas. My kids will be fine. So many people have volunteered to help and are sending me things that I'm sure when everything arrives I will be so amazed!" 
I met so many smiling kiddos today! So many stand out it's hard to choose what to tell you all. I'm pretty certain I converted a couple non-believers. I got about a hundred hugs.
I stopped in at a Cub Scout meeting. About 60 kids. All very well-mannered kids with obviously good parents. One boy stood out. He was a big young man. Had a great smile and a good start on the ole Santa belly! I told him he was the kind of kid I keep an eye on because he has a chance of me recruiting him to be one of my Santa helpers when he gets his beard grown. A few minutes after he and I talked. He came up to me and gave me a gift to give one of the younger kids. Well Santa doesn't let good deeds go unnoticed so I asked him to join me on stage and I announced to the crowd of about 100 that I named him an honorary Elf for showing kindness. After I left, my Rudolph told me he came back to his table and said "wow that was embarrassing.... but really cool". I received a message from the scout leader the next day. She said the kids were thrilled and I did a great job. She also sent a picture of me and the boy saying I couldn't have picked a better kid to do that with.
I so love seeing all these kids. I think I need a body cam so I could share some of the looks I have the pleasure of seeing.
All in all, a wonderful day. Thank you to everyone who invited me into their homes!
Boy there sure are a lot of believers in Pasco County! I met a whole bunch more kiddos this morning at their houses. They were all pretty surprised to find me standing in the living room. HoHoHo. Then I went to the New Port Richey Rec Center to say hi to as many kids and parents as I could. Some very special friends came to see me today. My little miss Vicki showed up with Gramma and Grampa and she ran from 20 yards away and almost knocked me over with the biggest, best hug I ever got. I met another cool dude named Joshua who I have to keep a good eye on because he has what it takes to be a super hero. I also had the distinct honor of visiting some of my very favorite people at my favorite VFW...Veterans! My wife was able to join me there to salute some of our greatest heroes and their families. Thank you to Commander Jake for having us! I know that isn't enough yet so...I went and met who can only be described as my number one fan, Dalton! We were so excited to see each other we almost blew the roof off the house. HoHoHo My vacation is over. I have to head to the workshop and get everything in order for the big night tomorrow!
And the solid proof the magic is real? Right here my friends. Nobody can deny this. For background's sake; when this conversation started I thought she was one of the Mom's already on my visit list. I thought I knew her but she was confused who I was.
This is transcribed from my phone! (name changed)
Mary: Hey it's "Mary"
Me: Hi Mary 
ME: As in Mary (whatsername)?
Mary: Oops, I think I have the wrong number
Me: Maybe...I'm Santa
Mary: Hi Santa...My son wants WWE stuff for Christmas lol
Me: I should give him my son's collection : )
Mary: Wow really?
Me: He's got about $2k worth of those things lol
Me: So, is this a wrong number?
Me: Or were you trying to reach me?
Mary: Oh, wow. My son is 8 and in love with wrestling. I was trying to text his Granny and accidentally texted you instead
Me: Where do you live?
Mary: St Pete
Me: Bummer...I'm The Pasco Santa
Mary: Really? Wish you were in St Pete
Me: Maybe next year, nice chatting with you.
Mary: Is there any way I could come to you? Could really use the help
Me: What kind of help?
Mary: I registered for toys for tots but something went wrong and now I don't know what to do.
Me: Can you come to New Port Richey Christmas Eve morning?
Mary: Yes
I texted her the following in the morning.
Me: Mary, your boy WILL have a minimum of 3 new WWE characters under your tree Monday morning. My Uncle is a softy! I will also do my best to make it even better. I will know more later today. I don't think you texted a wrong number at all dear! Merry Christmas!
Now, that story isn't over yet. She was going to come to my event in New Port Richey from St Pete to pick up the boy's gifts on Saturday. I texted her Friday morning to confirm she would be there. She informed me that her husband had lost his job that day and their only vehicle was his work van. She thanked me for my generosity and said Merry Christmas. I could sense her disappointment in her text. I told her WAIT a minute! I have gifts for your son and by dangit I'm going to get them to him. I will find a ride to you in St Pete tomorrow. Meanwhile, Friday night I get a message from a nice lady who asks if I can get in contact with the "WWE kid's" Mom. I told her I had been texting her. The lady asked me to find out if she could get the boy to Amelie Arena on the 30th because she wanted to buy him WWE Live tickets. I couldn't believe what I was reading. I texted the Mom and told her to call me immediately. She called and I asked her if she could get the boy there, that a lady was offering to buy him 2 tickets to see the WWE Live. She said absolutely, his Grandma can take him. SO, I tell the nice lady yes and a few minutes later she tells me the tickets are purchased. I asked her for the seating info because I had an idea. Tenth row floor seats 1 & 2! WHAT??? I was more excited than the kid was going to be. Now I have to get the toys and these tickets to St Pete. Not having the cash to Uber all that way, I pleaded in my group for a ride. Someone offered from another group and didn't show up. I was in panic mode trying to figure out how to get these presents all the way to St Pete from New Port Richey, at least an hour away. I texted her again that I was having trouble finding a ride. I was deflated. She texted me back that he wasn't there right now anyway. He was at Grandma's house. I asked where Grandma lived? Maybe I could get there? PORT RICHEY she says! Twelve minutes from my front door! I couldn't believe it. It was more Christmas magic happening to me…through me. My Dad just happened to be here when she texted so he drove me over and I delivered his gifts and tickets. The poor kid was in such shock that he could barely react. His Grandma texted me on my way home that he was so excited after I left, that he could barely get the story out to his Mom on the phone. Only a couple people know this, but I emailed John Cena who is going to be there that night. He lives in Tampa and does a lot of charitable things for kids. I told him a short version of the story. I'm hoping he helps me make a miracle for this family. (no word as of this writing)
Now for a little comic relief. I visited a house with 2 kiddoes around 2 and 3 years old. Both with beautiful long curly brown hair. I asked the first one, while looking into my bag, "what kind of girl are you?" Then I pull out a little prayer bear. Home run. On to the second kiddo. Same act..."what kind of girl are you?". Mom then leans over with hand covering mouth slightly and says "the kind with a penis". UH OH...come on brain...recover for me here. I said "oh really, guess what?", and I pulled my hat off and let my 14 inch ponytail out and said "I have beautiful long hair too!" All was well with a nice laugh for all of us.
So that's it folks. That's how I became the real Santa. That suit is magic. I don't even recognize myself when I look at pictures or videos. I see happiness and joy. I see wonder. I see the magic. 
I want to personally thank all the people who helped me with gifts, rides, encouragement, acceptance and kindness. Especially, Chad, Lori & Tim, Lori & Bruce, Jimmy, Rich, Kathy and some other very special people including my wonderful Daughter who's "my Dad's cooler than your Dad" posts brought a sense of pride I've never known. This has been the most wonderful, heart breaking, magical, effortless, challenging, rewarding and humbling thing I have ever experienced. None of it could have happened without all the people behind me and beside me. I am eternally grateful to you all.
Til the next season my friends! Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night! 

Submitted: January 20, 2018

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