'Course, maybe like you, I've known Santa Claus since I was a kid. I used to see him a lot, but lately? Only a few weeks before each Christmas. Still, it's always good to see him.
For the past few weeks he's been hanging around the Prudential Center of Boston, directly across from the post office and a few steps away from Saint Francis Chapel.
I've tried to pop by to see him whenever I could...sometimes—often—he's busy with little kids, patiently listening to them. If we can't chat, we manage to blow kisses to each other (often, alas, to the dismay of the photographer who has to take the picture over again.)
A couple of weeks ago—on the eve of his namesake's day (that would be Saint Nicholas)—we spent a half an hour or so together, talking over old times...you know. We posed for a photo, which was fun.
And, somewhat to my surprise, he asked me what I wanted for Christmas!
He: "Kelly, come on. What'd you like me to bring you this year?"
Me: "Santa, you come on! You know I've got everything I need and I'm not a kid anymore."
He: "Sure you are Kel...now don't be silly, there's got to be something."
As it happened, I had in my hand a gift request from the annual Saint Francis Chapel Giving Tree—a wonderful effort by some good pro-life folks to help unborn babies and their parents to warm up Christmas a bit. So...
Me: "Okay, Santa. What I'd like is for the Chapel Giving Tree to be a great success!"
He: "Giving Tree?"
Me: "Yeah. You know. Moms. Babies. Folks in need."
He: "Hmmm...like Jesus and Mary and Joseph?"
Me: "Well, yes, actually."
Today I found myself in an impossibly long line at the post office. I needed to mail two letters overseas and the auto-machine thing wasn't working. Since I'd just been to confession—top story: Kelly Was Impatient—I tried to ignore the line and make cheerful talk with my fellow queue-mates. It worked, actually. In the middle of one conversation, a nice looking lady came into the crowded area calling out:
"Excuse me, is there a Kelly here?" I looked around, and since nobody else claimed the name, I pleaded guilty as charged.
"Oh, good," she said. "Santa sent me to ask if you'd be good enough to stop by and see him...if it doesn't make you late for Mass, of course."
Gamely trying to ignore my slightly flaming cheeks (along with the sudden hush in the post office...I mean, how often does a 50++ woman get publicly summoned by that Little Round Elf?) I assured the lady I'd do my best, and hey presto! Suddenly I was at the counter!
In no time, my transaction with the grinning post office lady done, I rushed across the aisle and sank into Santa's sofa. He said:
"Kelly. Forgive me for taking so long. Here. Take this for the Giving Tree. And the babies. And the moms. And for Him."
After staring at the wad of bills he thrust into my hands, I threw my arms around him and dashed off to the Chapel Office minutes before Mass started, and gave the money to the receptionist. "It's for the Giving Tree," I explained.
"Great timing!" she said. "They're on their way to pick up the stuff. Thanks, Kelly!"
"Don't thank me," I mumbled. "Thank Santa Claus." But she only smiled.
I entered the Chapel praising God...and giving thanks for a very giving man.
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