Native Son: Through the Eyes of a Child
I arrive in my little truck an hour before,
And they’re already lined up…ten, twenty or more.
So I have to use a blanket to hopefully disguise,
Bright red and white velvet from young inquiring eyes.
I put on the red suit in a stuffy little bathroom.
First the white hair spray, then those puffy pantaloons.
I get the spats on, oops!…switch left with the right,
I’d hate to look less than authentic, oh no, not tonight.
I’m nervous, which seems silly, for I’ve done this before,
But each time goes different; new little faces to adore.
Then on goes the coat, the belt, and the hat,
And there stands a legend, yet it’s me…imagine that!
I trudge down the hallway, and my pants start to slip,
Worry crosses my mind, as I walk hand on my hip.
They’ll know it’s just me, they’ll know I’m a fake,
I’ll shatter their dreams; they’ll cry from heartbreak.
But when I walk in the room, when I hear them all gasp
A spirit overtakes me, holds me firm in its grasp.
All doubt takes flight and this becomes sacred space,
Gentle kindness enters my heart, a glow covers my face.
Dressed in red, green, and white, they now fill the room.
They’ve come to see Santa; they’ve come expecting the moon.
They all look upon me with wonder in their eyes,
And with all the stories they’ve heard, that’s no big surprise.
It suddenly occurs to me I’ve prepared nothing to say.
How could I be so stupid…how could I ruin today,
For all these beautiful children, who’ve come out to see,
The legend of the ages, not some schmuck like me?
Someone gives the okay and little brown pigtails come flying,
Her little brother stays behind, and I can see that he’s crying.
Little arms fold around me, a tender “I love you” is said,
My heart melts, my eye leaks, my cheeks turn bright red.
Her tiny head tilts and she asks me if I am alright.
I say, “I never knew how much I missed you until just now tonight.”
“You remember me?” she asks, big brown eyes open wide.
“Yes I do…and that’s your brother with your mom at his side.”
She buries her face into the red velvet coat and cries quietly,
And blurts out, “I can’t believe you remember a little nobody like me.”
I pull her away from my chest and say, “Look me right in my eyes,”
“You were never a nobody…and Santa doesn’t tell lies.”
“Now go get your shy brother, I want to talk to you both.”
As she left me I could still feel the wet tears on my coat.
She brought back her brother and sat him right on my knee,
And told him, “He is the real Santa, you just wait and see.”
“You may have heard that I bring children toys,
“But more important than that, I bring you true joy.
“I give it to you now, and place it in deep your heart,
You must keep it there safe, for the year we’re apart.”
“Carry it with you everywhere, every minute of the day.
“When you are feeling sad, remember your joy and say:
“Good tidings I bring you, from far and from near,
“Merry Christmas to you, always be of good cheer.”
They solemnly repeated the words I just said,
And little brown pigtails kissed her little brother on the head.
“Sealed with a kiss!” I shouted and our quiet moment was over,
Or so I thought…till little brother hugged my shoulder!
And so it went forth the rest of the night,
Little hearts, big hugs, and eyes clear and bright.
When the last one was peeled off of me, my coat was soaked wet,
And I knew indeed this was the greatest Christmas yet.
Back to the stuffy bathroom, and I look straight in the mirror
And watch how my image of Santa now becomes clearer.
He’s just a fat guy in a red suit, with a big beard all white and wild,
Who transforms into magic, through the eyes of a child.