That grumpy Santa Claus came every year

The grumpy Santa made the best Santa my children ever knew.

NORTH POLE – Years ago, when my children were young and we lived in Idaho, a man wearing a finely made red costume visited our home every Christmas Eve.

My children were shocked to see the Santa at the door and weren’t sure what to make of him and Mrs. Claus in her green costume with white trim. She just smiled as Santa went to work.

The Jolly Old Elf’s real name was Harvey and he was dressed in one of the most elaborate North Pole costumes I had ever seen. The suit had white fluffy trim at the end of the sleeves that matched his beard and Santa cap. He had sleigh bells on a leather strap that he shook after we opened the front door. I think his wife sewed the suit and it fit him just right.

My oldest daughter remembers getting butterflies in her stomach when Santa shook his bells before he entered our home.

After we invited him in, he would ask our children what they wanted for Christmas and then give them a bag with an orange, peanuts, and hard candy. Then with a wink he was out the door.

It was a magical time. The kids could never figure out how he got to our house on Christmas Eve and still came back with his reindeer to leave gifts. They also wondered how he knew their names.

Harvey was a co-worker of mine and was known by many at the workplace to be a little grumpy, until you got to know him. When some people first met him, they feared him. In his effort to help them, they felt like he was bossy and impatient. My children never knew that the kind Santa that visited our house was the same grumpy man they feared when they came to my office.

Why was Harvey so grumpy? He had a secret that I found out after years of working with him.

I suppose he had a right to be a little edgy around people. Harvey and his wife adopted three American Indian children and only one lived to his 20’s and then took his life. One child died in an automobile accident and the other died of an illness. Harvey’s occupation was geared to serving young adults and teenagers.

I often wonder, when Santa and Mrs. Santa came to our house and looked at our children, did they think of their own?   For my children, Harvey and his wife brought excitement and joy that would become the best Christmas memories.

When he was helping young people at work, would he think of his own children and what they may have been doing if they had lived? Not seeing his children reach their hopes and dreams had to have been so difficult.

Harvey died about a year ago. Had I known, I would have liked to go pay my respect to my children’s Santa.

I hope his reunion with his children was sweet and I hope they saw the gentle and kind man that we saw every Christmas Eve.

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