A personal note.

I’ve often written about the love and admiration I get from children in my visits as Santa. There is another side to that coin – loss.

I never understood Jerry Lewis’ calling all of those children “My kids” when I was younger. But as I’ve gotten older and formed a paternal relationship with children in need I have grown to understand his possesive feelings about the children he was trying to help. I feel that way as well. They are “my kids” whether they are in an orphanage in Haiti or visiting me at a mall in Minneapolis.

Honored to wear the Red Suit.

I lost one of those kids today. His name is Jacob. He passed after a long illness. I’d gotten to know Jacob through Hope Kids and our annual “Cookies with Santa” event. It’s where we (the children and I) get together for photos, making cards, decorating cookies, eating snacks, and playing games in a controlled setting just for them. No long lines, no fees, everybody involved is cool with special needs, and they can just have a good time with Santa. We do it early in November so that they can have the pictures with them by Thanksgiving.

Jacob loved Santa. And Hope Kids reminded me of that when they let me know he had gone on ahead to Heaven. I cried.  I prayed for his family.  I was overjoyed that I had that little bit of time with him and that he found our visit to be the highlight of 2012.

Me. Santa. Honored as only a child could do it. It is humbling.

I’m not bragging. I’m just letting you know that children hold that kind of love in a special place. And I’m trying to remind my fellow Santa’s that we might only wear the Red Suit for a few months of the year but that memory and that love carries on 365 in many children’s hearts. I want to remind myself to be worthy of that love and emulate Nicholas of Myra in my actions.

And I want to thank Jacob and all the children who repose that trust and honor in Santa. You make an old man feel special.

Is there a Santa in your life? Are you Santa to someone else? Do you treat children with the love and respect that they deserve?

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