Wow. I once played a dinosaur for The Alabama Reunion when I was first starting out in the Governor's Office there way back in 1988. I learned then that putting on a costume of some legendary figure really gives you an opportunity to assume a different personality.
But I have to say, when you strap on a Santa suit, well, there's kind of a reverence, some mystifying feeling that comes with it. We had a talk with our older kids about helping tonight when I did my first night as Santa. We told the kids that they couldn't call me "Dad" tonight.
For when I was outside and other kids were around, I was Santa. It became clear that we were doing more than just wearing a red suit and sitting out in front of our house. We were giving kids memories they shall have forever and the responsibility for providing that, when one thinks about it, is pretty serious. I saw the movie Bad Santa once, and now that I have been Santa one night, I really think that was a horrible movie.
But back to the point, tonight was great. We didn't get tons of cars to come by; maybe it was Friday night, maybe it was cos it was our first night. Maybe we're just not going to get tons of people to stop by, but truly, for those kids who did come by, we made their Christmas, and thankfully, their parents have some fun photos for their memories, too.
All the work that went into building the Santa Sleigh and the Santa Workshop paid off tonight. You can just see it in the faces of the kids who had their pictures made. It was something special. Some kids wanted cars. One girl wanted a Wii. One boy screamed when he got near me. And one neighbor''s wife came and sat in my lap.
And my kids all got a lesson in giving back to their neighbors tonight. Yeah, they were pumped cos they had Santa in their front yard, but they also got the chance to see Santa reaching out to other children. And they got the satisfaction of knowing it was their dad doing it. How is that for being a role model?
On the Eve of Turning 43, I gave away some great gifts tonight. And more shall come in the remaining 20 days before Christmas. And for me, I'm learning that there really is joy in the gift of giving. After all, we were making dreams happen for kids tonight. And what gift could I ever receive that would be worth more than that?