Friday, April 6, 2007

The Real Santa

While Christmas isn't for another 8 months, Sammy and I can say we had a bit of Christmas today.

We live near Washington, DC which for much of the year is not a bad place to live. However, I need to keep reminding myself that Good Friday, especially a Good Friday that falls during both Cherry Blossom Festival week and Spring Break school trips is not the day to venture down to the Mall even if it is your mother's birthday and you want to surprise her.

The first part of the surprise went very well. We met my parents at Les Halles, a well known DC steak house, and had a leisurely French lunch. Afterward we walked a few blocks to go to the Natural History museum so my mother could see the Hope Diamond. There is always one thing I forget about Washington, DC in spring. Never, never, never go downtown Cherry Blossom Week, Spring Break or Easter Friday. All three of those things culmenated today.

There were a few crowds. Well to be honest, it was so crowded you couldn't get into the room that houses the Hope Diamond. It was even hard to see her sister galleries. We gave up. Instead we looked for something "boring" and found beauty instead. Currently on display are the 2006 winners and honorable mentions of nature photography. There were some of the best nature shots I have ever seen. Close-ups of lions, the hands of a chimpanze and several others.

And now, the real Santa.

As we left the gallery, we headed towards an elevator that was preferably larger and less crowded than the one we went up on. As we passed this bench structure right outside our gallery I did a double take. Boy did that man look like Santa. Long white beard, red shirt, pot belly, joyful eyes. It was amazing. I didn't say anything or approach him - I wasn't sure how he would take to being called Santa outside of the season. Then a little boy went running up to him yelling "Santa!" The gentleman was wonderful. He spoke with the young boy for a few minutes and gave his business card to his mother. At this point, I couldn't resist. I wanted to have a picture with Santa on vacation. I didn't want to intrude, but Santa went all the way, He held Sammy on his lap and did everything he could to get Sammy to smile and finally got a small grin.

When I say this man exuded the essence of Santa, I truly mean it. Everything about him was Santa from his hair to his dress to his personality. As he gets older, I will tell my son the story of how we met the real Santa while he was on vacation from North Pole, Alaska (or Washington State which is what his card said) and show him the pictures of the most gentle man with joy in his eyes and his heart.

Yes, Virginia. There is a Santa Claus.

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