Sunday, November 20, 2011

We Caught Santa Traveling Incognito

Yes, there he was, in the same room with us!  Santa Claus walked right into the little pancake house we frequent after church.  He was obviously trying not to be recognized, wearing jeans and sweatshirt, but there was no mistaking who it was, with his fat belly, his white, curly hair, white beard, sparkling blue eyes, wire-rimmed spectacles...

I waited until after he had ordered and then walked up to his table and said, "Good afternoon, Sir!"  (Probably should've said Your Grace or Your Eminence or something, seeing as he's a bishop...)

He smiled up at me.

"I didn't expect to see you here until just about a month from now," I said, breathlessly.

"Well, I got my notice in the mail this week," he replied.  (I've no idea what he was thinking at this juncture.)

I handed him my pen and a clean napkin, which was all I had to write on, and said, "Could I just trouble you for your autograph before you disappear back to the North Pole?"

"To whom shall it be addressed?" he inquired cheerfully.  I hadn't thought of that.  Um, well, okay, youngest grandkid who could appreciate it, Sydney.  So he wrote this note:

Dear Sydney,

Christ Mass is in sight
And I am watching.


"That should be 'LOVE, Santa'," I protested. 

"That's okay," he reassured me.  "She and I have met before and she knows I love her."

Then I asked whether many people had recognized him in his disguise.  "No," he said, his blue eyes twinkling.  "You're actually the first - this year, anyway."

So I walked back to our table congratulating myself on my astuteness as a detective, but then I re-read the note and began to have some qualms, because as everybody knows, St. Nicholas was/is an Orthodox saint, and, well, does that note sound to you perhaps just a bit Lutheran?

UPDATE, November 28: My qualms about this Santa Claus have proven well founded. Six-year-old Sydney saw through him right away. "He can't even spell!" she said, reading his autograph to her. I hadn't noticed it, but sure enough, he had spelled her name incorrectly.

"And he doesn't know how to spell Christmas, either," said Sydney. And although I assured her "Christ mass" was the original spelling, she didn't buy it. She didn't like the tone of the note, and tossed it aside as a fake.

I thought maybe there was something just a bit seedy about this imposter but I just didn't want to admit it to myself; he did look perhaps in need of a job. Well, maybe my mistaking his identity gave him an idea, at least, for some seasonal employment.