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"My Rightful Santa Suit" - By Matthew Campbell (Exclusive to Santa.CC)

It was 3:00 am Christmas morning, and I heard noise coming from downstairs by the Christmas  tree. My wife, Holly,  was in bed dreaming the night away, and the kids were sound asleep; no doubt full of anxiety anticipating waking on Christmas. I could only wonder as I snuck down stairs to see what the source of the noise that disturbed my sleep could be. I was anxious and a little scared. At this point in my life I wasn't thinking it could be Santa. I was thinking of the safety of my family.

santa suit velvet overallsStepping lightly down the stairs, as the wall lit up from streaming of Christmas lights flickering circular around the tree, I hugged the wall, as if that hid me from any possible intruder. When I got to the bottom of the stairs, back against the wall, as I slid slowly toward the divider between the living and dining rooms, the noise disappeared. Whoever it was must have heard me coming and now lay in wait behind this wall ready to tackle me and run. I peaked slowly around the wall, scanned the room, and saw no one. Bravely I inspected the area to look for evidence of an intrusion.

Among the myriad of colorfully wrapped Christmas presents and decorations, animated characters, Santa and Mrs. Claus, a few elves, reindeer, and entire town, idyllic in beauty in it's Christmas setting, encircled by a train carrying boxcars of Christmas presents, driven by Saint Nick himself, I walked with curious eyes, lost for a moment in Christmas magic forgetting I was looking for something suspicious.

 Just then I saw it at the foot of the mantle of our fire place. A Santa suit, neatly folded, with a small note on top, creased over and addressed to me: To Matthew. I held the suit to my nose and smelled deeply, hoping to smell a clue I guess, so I lay it down to read the note left with my name.

Dear Matthew,

I can no longer live the role of Santa Clause. I am entrusting you with my Santa suit.

Thank You,

Santa Claus

I knew I had gained some weight over the past couple of years, and my wife and friends even joked about it at Thanksgiving dinner laughing about how I should be Santa Claus this year, but this was absurd and maybe taking a bit too far. I did see the humor in it, but couldn't help thinking though that none of them were responsible for this suit at the foot of our fireplace. It was all surreal and unreal all at once.

Holding this Santa suit tightly to my chest in the mist of the magical Christmas scene I created in my own home I wondered back to the memory of my father. He passed away in his sleep ten years ago on Christmas Eve. Every year prior to his passing we would pretend to the kids wondering where Grandpa was, and why he wasn't here for Christmas. We would work them all up, as they became curiously concerned, and then the door bell would ring.

Grandpa, in a completely ornate and meticulously pieced together Santa suit and red sack over his shoulder, would come boisterous and jolly through the door spreading merry cheer and laughter, handing out small gifts to the adults as he walked through the crowd of our family, grabbing the hands of the children saying Merry Christmas little one, Merry Christmas.Ho Ho Ho! Then he would sit himself in the rocking chair that all the adults knew to keep empty for him, and he would plop his sack of presents in from of him and slowly rummage through the contents, all the while peering his eyes around the crowd, enticing anticipation from adults and kids alike. He then held the chosen present close to his eyes, inspecting it for a moment, pretending to squint, finally calling the name of the first lucky kid in the room.

Everyone would cheer and laugh, as each child eagerly made their way through the adults and other children to their place on grandpa's lap. My father was very thorough in his plans, asking all the parents months in advance what the most important gift on each child's list was, so when he asked them, and what would you like for Christmas little one, they would be blown away when they unwrapped the exact gift that they just told Santa they wanted more than anything in the world.

This charade of dad's never failed to draw tears from my eyes, especially when my own boys Aidan and Owen had their turn, smiling and laughing and full of sincere joy. Our oldest son Tyler, in on the big secret by now, would play along thanking Santa for an iTunes card or some other gift that he and dad discussed weeks earlier.

Dad always saved Juliana, our baby girl, for last. He would dig through the almost empty bag wondering, out loud, if he had just one more present. Juliana was six when grandpa died after his last night as Santa, so she had caught on, though she still looked a bit nervous, as her smile slowly widened as each tense moment passed. Then my father, grandpa, and Santa all-in-one would hold out his last present and call her name, Juliana, and her big blue eyes would widen and brighten up the room, as she ran to his lap and into his heart. 

As I woke from my memories and back to my situation, only moments ago thinking an intruder was among us, it came to me what was going on. I sensed her behind me, knowing why she did it, and the thoughtfulness that went into her plan. Only I couldn't figure out where the noise I was suspicious of came from, because she was supposedly sound asleep next to me in bed when I walked down the stairs.

I turned around and saw her smiling the way she smiles at me when I know she loves me. She said "Don't you think it's time you take your place as Santa for this family?"

I held the Santa suit to my nose and breathed in. I felt the softness on my cheek. It reminded me of dad. I looked up, and Tyler popped out from around the corner. He put his arm around his mother and said "sorry for being so noisy dad," with a smile bursting at his cheeks. "Put it on dad.I mean Santa. Put the Santa suit on." So I did. I put the Santa suit on every Christmas now and play the role my father perfected and left for me.    

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