William Meets Santa Claus
By Don Hall
It was December 23, 1999, two days before Christmas. It had just turned dark. I went to pick up William from the baby sitter. Margaret wanted me to stop at Eckerd before coming home. The baby sitter is located off Cassat Av. I picked up William and thought it would be easier to take Hamilton St. instead of Roosevelt Bv. to avoid rush hour traffic. William is really taken by the lights. As we drove along Hamilton he would point out the window as we passed the houses and say, "Light!" or "Ah! Light!", each time with the same enthusiasm. He did this throughout the holiday season. As we drove I glanced down one street and saw a lot of houses lit up. I thought it would be fun to come back this way after leaving Eckerd. After we finished at Eckerd my own enthusiasm for the lights had died down and I just wanted to go home.
Later that evening we had to go to Publix to get some groceries. I told Margaret about the street off Hamilton I saw and thought it might be fun to drive by there on the way. We did that. We found the street with all the lights and turned down it. We drove less than a block and whom did we see but Santa Claus. He was on the right side of the street talking to someone in a car that was pulled over. We pulled over behind that car and waited our turn to talk to Santa. The car left and we pulled up.
Margaret was riding in the passenger seat. She rolled down her window. Margaret asked, "Are you really Santa?"
He answered, "Yes." He saw William sitting in his seat behind Margaret. He asked if William was a boy or girl (itís not always easy to tell at 23 months). She said a boy. He reached into his bag of toys (actually a plastic garbage bag) and pulled out a soft soft teddy bear. He handed it to William and he immediately hugged it.
Margaret asked him, "Arenít you here a little early?"
He answered something that he finished early at the pole and had some extra time. He asked Margaret if we knew of any other streets that were lit up like this one. She mentioned Murray.
We said goodbye and went on to Publix. William carried his new gift with him into the grocery store and kept it with him much of that evening.
William probably wasnít aware of who he met that evening. Heíll learn who Santa Claus is in the coming years. This year it was the lights that were so special to him. Weíll remind him in the coming years who he met that evening in 1999.
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