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"The Santa Suit Delivereth From War" - By Matthew Campbell (Exclusive to Santa.CC)

You would never believe my story, as rich in detail as it is in the fantastical, even if you lived it yourself. No one believes what happened to me, despite my persistence of its truth, my rage that people have suggested I am a liar, and my countless retellings of this story in the same and original detail as it happened to me.  I tell you that you will never believe my story, yet I tell it to you in hopes you might be the one person I have searched for, to spread this truth, this truth of Christmas. I tell you the story of the Santa suit that I stumbled upon, forever changing my life.

velvet santa suitIt was the near the end of the second Great War. Our company, the 99th Airborne, was in a celebratory mood marching through a thicket of dense woods in a German forest. It was Christmas Eve and we had made another bold advance on the German enemy and another great victory to the winds of our final push toward the coming months of the end of this horrible event. It was snowing and our spirits were high. I remember turning my head and smiling in conversation when the explosion sent a wave through my body, throwing me a good distance through the air and further into the woods.       

When I woke in shock, probably many hours later or even the next day, it's all kind of a haze, I walked toward the mess of my fellow troops to see not one survivor among them. Trucks destroyed and my company laid to waste on this German trail, I could do nothing but start walking through the woods keeping as low a profile as possible.

I was hungry, and the thought of it being Christmas kept entering my head. I was scared because I didn't want to die now as the tide of the war had turned in our favor. I knocked on doors asking for food, more often than not getting slammed out in the cold. I sang Christmas tunes quietly to myself as a form of sanity, and I always took the long way through the woods to avoid open roads and the chance of being seen by the German army.

I was on one of these little side excursions through the woods that I discovered the Santa suit that would change the course of my life. It was in box I came upon in a snowy grove, just set there beside a tree, as if it had fallen from the sky. I opened the box and inside was a neatly folded, soft fur, green and red suit. There was a metal clip attached to the suit with a pin. Engraved on the clip the words said "Property of Santa Claus and The North Pole Toy Company: if found please return promptly."

What was I to think? My whole world had been shattered in one sort or another by this unholy war. I lost my father in the first Great War, and two brothers in this war. My fiancé left me when I enlisted, calling me a fool. My mother was committed to a home; not well from the nightmare that had overtaken our country from two wars.

The way I saw it I could keep walking and try to find another company to fight alongside with, or I could make my way north, out of Germany and north still: as north as north would take me in hopes that there really was a North Pole, and that Santa was really there ready to accept his suit. This is the journey I chose, leaving the despair of war behind.

I stopped at an old cottage tended by an old couple. I asked to borrow some clothes, as to not be recognized as a soldier. I explained to the old couple that I had found a Santa suit, and I wanted to return it to where it came from. They seemed not sure as to whether they should take me serious or not, but they provided all the hospitality I could have asked for: a full meal, hot cocoa, a bed to rest for the night, full breakfast and coffee, and the nicest German outfit made for a distinguished old man. I set on foot and made my way out of Germany in a couple of days, heading straight for Denmark.

In Copenhagen I searched out a tavern or two before finding a fisherman willing to give me a boat ride to Norway in exchange for a day's work on his boat. He asked me where I was headed. I just told him north on an important mission. He replied "running from the war I see." I worried of his comment before he said "Can't say I blame you." Then he looked at me and said "You keep headed north on your mission and return what you found in the woods. It seems a mission has been bestowed upon you, so you better take it serious. He's watching how you handle this one. He's always watching, and he knows."

It came to me after the fisherman dropped me ashore in Norway that I never told that fisherman where I was headed or why, but yet he knew. Was there truly a mission in this unreal adventure I took just to avoid death at the hands of war? Did this Santa suit have a real owner I knew to be a childhood myth? How far was I really willing to take this journey?

I hiked for days through the mountains and coastline of Norway, often finding villagers willing to offer a bite to eat, or a bath and bed.  They could see I was weary yet determined. I explained to anyone that helped my mission, just what I was up too. No one seemed to disbelieve the possibility of it all. It's as if the world as I was seeing it now was open and full of love, lending a complete hand in getting this mission of the Santa suite to its only conclusion.

From Trondhiem, Norway I caught a boat to the Faroe Islands and then another to Iceland and another to Greenland. My beard was growing long, as was this journey. I was determined to imagine this destination to be real and yet every bit as fantastical in its reality as I could conjure it in my head. I envisioned a great city far north and the Santa I dreamed of as a Child.

I hiked through the coldest winds and harshest snow storms. I walked in a whiteout sky even when I couldn't see which way I was walking. I just knew my feet would take me the way north. I knew the Santa suit in my pack would find its way home, with me as its carrier.

At the end of the Island of Greenland I came upon an outpost on the shore. I passed out from exhaustion as I knocked on the door.

When I woke I was being transported by stretcher. Short people I believed to be elves were carrying me and talking. I heard them say, "He has the Santa suit. He traveled far with I can tell. I told Santa his suit has returned. He told us to build the man a castle here. Do you think he's going to stay?" And I dozed back off and awaited my new Heaven.

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