We have eaten Thanksgiving dinner at the same restaurant for a number of years now. We usually go around the same time and we see Santa and Mrs. Claus eating Thanksgiving dinner. You have to understand, this isn't a couple dressed up to entertain the people in the restaurant. There are no red suits, no elves helping out, no special table. This is just a lovely couple out to eat Thanksgiving dinner. It just happens that they look exactly like Santa and Mrs. Claus.
The first year we saw them sitting there and we pointed them out to Alex to try to get him to behave. "Alex, you better be good, Santa is sitting right over there." We thought we were brilliant; he would definitely behave. Well, he did. The problem was, at some point he asked if he could go over and talk to them. He was a cute little kid, and shy, so we told him sure. He walked over and after a couple of seconds we interrupted - "Alex, let them eat their dinner." Mrs. Claus immediately turned around and scolded us with something like "Please, don't tell him to stop talking to Santa, he can talk to Santa if he wants to."
We got talking to her on the side and learned that they are year-round Santa and Mrs. Claus. And, they are truly wonderful people. We saw them the next year and were more comfortable having Alex go over and talk to them. Now we just have the kids go right up, get pictures and everything else. Of course, as soon as we do, so does most of the rest of the restaurant. But they are lovely. They tell us each year how much they love it.
Every time I see them, I think about how great it must be to be them. Everywhere they go they instantly make people happy just by being there. It is just impossible to see them and not smile. I used to always say that I want to be that guy (although that is partially just an explanation for the beard and the ever-expanding waist line). I can't imagine anything better than always making people happy.
This year we had to have dinner earlier, so we missed them. It was disappointing. But, the day after Thanksgiving we went and visited a house we had found the year before. Pretty much everywhere there is one house where the owners go crazy with decorations. They put up way more lights than anyone else, they have music playing, things dance or ice skate, you know what I am talking about. Let me tell you though, whatever you are picturing is nothing compared to this. This house has been on national television multiple times. They start putting up decorations in September. There are 47 switches to turn things on. They won a national award a few years ago. It is really just beyond description.
I had a chance to talk with the owner as he watched people stream by. We were talking for a while when he stopped, just looked around and said "This is why I do it." He patted his chest over his heart and finished - "The feeling I get, just watching everyone."
I thought about it. He is really doing the same thing. Everyone that came by, despite having to struggle to find a place to park and turn around on this gravel road, was happy. He was spreading joy.
But actually, what I think Santa, Mrs. Claus and the man with the decorated house are really doing is sharing some of their joy. There are other people like that who you probably know. They are just always filled with joy. You feel it when they walk in the room. So, I have new goal, rather than becoming someone who looks like Santa to make people happy (there goes the excuse for my weight gain), I need to fill myself with that same joy and share it. And I believe that joy can only come from growing closer to Jesus.
"I have told you these things so that you can have the same joy I have and so that your joy will be the fullest possible joy." John 15:11
So, something to work on and a reward for doing so. Not a bad bargain.
"Be joyful always." 1 Thessalonians 5:16 Have a great weekend!