By Melissa Fowler

On Dec. 11, my family attended the “Swing into Christmas Concert” at Reardon.

We went early in hope for our son, Andy, to speak with the Big Guy, you know, Santa.

Well, not only was he there, he didn’t look busy.

Andy approached the Jolly Old Elf and promptly seated himself upon his lap. Being the ever curious mom, I kept a close ear on what was being said.

Santa looked at our son and said, “Why you’re Andy,” well, needless to say, his mouth and my dropped open (especially mine).

Andy started to tell St. Nick what he wanted this year, not much really, some spy gear, a kitten, and oh, some of your sleigh bells.

Santa proceeded to tell my son that he would make SURE that he would get some really real sleigh bells, really.

Oh, boy, I thought. While I’m in the background doing the cut sign at my throat, Santa winks at me.

What’s the deal? First he knows Andy’s name and now he’s promising REAL REALLY REAL SLEIGH BELLS.

I’m planning to speak to this dude when Andy’s through with his order.

Well, we did the picture thing, hugs and a big kiss on Santa’s cheek. Andy was content. I was a little irked to say the least.

So, I asked Andy to tag along with Dad as Mommy had to “speak” with the fella who gave me “a wink of his eye.”

I leaned over to Santa’s face, and looked into his beautiful eyes I said to him, “OK. How do you know my kid’s name?”

He said, “Oh, well, HO HO HO, you don’t remember me do you? I saw your family at a department store before Thanksgiving and we talked for some time about Andy. I remembered him as soon as I saw him.”

All right, he answered the first question, now about those sleigh bells.

“Hey Santa, where are those supposed to come from huh, the North Pole?” He laughed and said, “I need your name and phone number.” “Why?” I asked. He started to tell me that he indeed would make sure that Andy would have “real really real sleigh bells” for Christmas. He showed me his bracelet that he was wearing. It was made of sleigh bells.

“I have more where these came from. I’ll make Andy a bracelet just like mine and I’ll call you next week when they are ready.”

I couldn’t believe it. This stuff does not happen these days. Is he the real thing? I must say, my mind started to wonder.

This past Tuesday, Santa called me. He said Andy’s bells were ready. He was going to be at Rawlins House in Pendleton later that evening so we made arrangements to meet.

I have to tell you, I cried all the way there. What a sweet man. Once I got there, the residents were in the dining room singing Christmas carols and looked like they were having a great time. I was met at the door by Mrs. Claus and the event director. They asked me if I was a family member, I said “no,” and told them about my “confrontation” with Mr. White Whiskers. As I spoke both they and myself started to cry. The one lady told me that the gentleman was her neighbor and that he was indeed Santa Claus. That he truly was as wonderful as I was starting to believe myself.

Just then, the door swung open and there he was in all his Christmas glory. Santa! He was a bit out-of-breath as he had to park his sleigh “out back” and was running a bit late. He went into a small office to pull himself together and speak to the ladies that were waiting for his arrival.

He then leaned his head out the door and said to me, “Come here, Melissa.” I felt totally like a little girl that was about to receive my very first gift from Santa, in person.

He reached into his pocket and I could hear the sound. He pulled out a beautiful ring of sleigh bells.

He said, “These are older than all of us put together.”

“Of course” I said, “they belonged to you, right?”

Then he looked at me straight in my eyes and I put my arms around his broad shoulders and just got totally lost in a big hug. I swear to you, it was just the best most wonderful feeling I have had in so long.

I then just held his beautiful, sweet face in my hands and soaked up the moment. I looked at him and said “Santa, you made me believe.” And tears came to his eyes, too. He said to me, “Give these bells to Andy; tell him I made them especially for him.”

I told him thank you would never be enough for what he did for my little boy and that he made me believe that there is good in this world and thank God for people like him that really has a heart for children.

As I left, there was a soft snow falling, the Christmas lights looked so beautiful, it was very cold outside, yet, I felt such a warmth inside that I didn’t need a coat.

Driving home, I kept my hand on those bells and still felt the love of the man who forged them.

I can’t wait for Christmas morning, to see my son’s face when he opens that treasure. I know his eyes will twinkle just like Santa’s. Mine, I am sure, will glisten with tears of joy. For dreams come true and the innocence of childhood here before me and of mine that was lost, but, found again in this season of Christ’s birth.

So, Roger Lundy, may angels go before you. I will never forget you or your kindness that you showed to me.

I shall pass this story on to my son as he gets older, and he shall pass it on too. What you did to me made me believe in something that so many of us have lost.

So, as you make your trip, remember to stop in Lapel for some hot chocolate and cookies. We’ll leave the light on for you!

Melissa Fowler is a Lapel resident.

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