Class of 2016
Amidst the freezing sleet and snow,
The timid robin comes;
In pity drive him not away,
But scatter out your crumbs.
(12/2015) Lewis stepped outside and breathed in the frigid air. He hadnít been out since the morning, and was surprised to see how the snow had accumulated on the roofs of the cars that overflowed from the parking lot. "Great," he thought to himself as he sighed with frustration, "canít wait to get home and have to shovel for hours."
Lewis kicked the snow around under his black boots until he could see the sidewalk beneath. It was December 23rd. Two days before Christmas.
"And this is the way I am spending it," he grunted to himself, bitterly. By now it was nearly dinnertime and his stomach grumbled impatiently. He had been working all day long at the mall. Of course, it was extra busy today so he had barely gotten to have lunch. Even worse was that by the time he was able to take his break, the diner with the coffee he
liked had closed. So there he was, hungry and un-caffeinated with a quickly decreasing tolerance for nonsense.
It got old pretty quick. Just sitting there and waiting for the next child to come and sit on your lap. Then having your picture taken and trying to act jollier than you actually are. And then, of course, the dreaded fear of blinking during the flash of the camera, which required you to have to wait even longer for another picture. In theory, it
sounded fun but it turned into more of a task than a moment of happiness with each passing family.
He didnít even want this job. He was perfectly content sitting at home in his recliner, watching mindless TV for hours. Unfortunately his wife, Ruth, had gotten a hold of a newspaper ad looking for individuals to act as Santa Claus in a holiday exhibit at the mall. She encouraged him to the point where he couldnít exactly decline. So there he was,
working every day as a Santa Claus for minimum wage. At least it had gotten Ruth to let up about keeping him on a diet. And even better than that, he had been getting away with not having to trim his beard. That aside, he wasnít exactly seeing the point to it all.
"Why, why, why??" he thought to himself as he put the red hat onto his head again and walked back inside. His five-minute break was over and he was trying his best to channel his inner "jolly" side but was having a difficult time finding it.
And leave your door upon the latch
For whosoever comes;
The poorer they, more welcome give,
And scatter out your crumbs.
He walked through the sliding doors and turned left at the corner. It didnít take long before he heard his pseudo-name being called. "Ho, Ho, Ho," he chuckled in his best impersonation. He walked towards the "North Pole," passed through the candy-cane gates and climbed up the stairs covered in fake snow and glitter to his chair. He plopped down onto
the red pillow and straightened his suit as he took another moment to mentally prepare himself for the last few hours of the night.
At the edge of the gate stood Santaís "elves." In reality, they were just a bunch of high school students trying to earn a bit of extra money for the holiday season.
"Oh to be young again," Lewis thought to himself as he watched them interacting with the children. The teenagers seemed to have as much, if not more, energy than the children themselves. "But they are all corrupted generations anyways," he sighed as he watched the babies in their strollers playing on iPads.
"You ready, Santa?" said an approaching voice. Lewis looked up from putting on his gloves to see a young lady named Kate standing in front of him. Kate was a senior in high school and had been working as an elf every holiday season for the past four years. She always seemed so full of light and genuinely happy.
"Doing my best to hang in there," Lewis replied with a grunt and a sigh. "Well, I know sometimes I need a little bit of liquid motivation and I thought maybe you could use some too," Kate said as she held out a cup of coffee towards Lewis. "I wasnít sure if you took it with cream and sugar so I figured black would be the safest bet. I hope thatís
alright," Kate said, with a hesitant smile.
Lewis was taken aback. This was the last thing he was expecting. Never being the best at expressing his gratitude, he held out his hand, took the coffee and thanked her politely. He sat in his chair and took a sip. He was beside himself at Kateís selflessness and thoughtfulness. "Just maybe," Lewis pondered, "Maybe they arenít all corrupted."
All have to spare, none are too poor,
When want with winter comes;
The loaf is never all your own,
Then scatter out the crumbs.
The children came and sat upon his lap. Some nervous with tears, some giddy with joy. "Ho, Ho, Ho," and "What are you asking Santa for this year?" Lewis said without even thinking. He was used to the typical responses these days. Maybe an iPad or some video game, maybe some Legos. The occasional child was super ambitious, maybe asking for a pony or a
puppy. There were also practical children, asking for new reading books or colored pencils. And then there was the handful that stuck in your mind forever.
He walked up alone as his mother waited by the gates with a sleeping baby in a stroller. Quietly and calmly he sat on Lewisí lap. "Hi Santa, my name is Patrick," the little boy said shyly.
"Well hello there, Patrick. What are you asking Santa for this year?" Lewis replied. Patrick looked at him with his soft brown eyes and began speaking with wisdom beyond his years,
"Santa, Iíve been waiting a long time to see you. Mom didnít want to wait because my baby sister is getting hungry but I just had to talk to you before Christmas. You see, I didnít get a chance to send you a letter this year because I couldnít figure out what I wanted to ask for. Iíve thought about it and thought about it and last night, when I was
going to bed, I finally decided. I know this may sound silly to you, but what I really wish for this Christmas is a pair of pajamas to wear to bed. Mine have grown too small now and have gotten too many holes. They donít keep the warmth in anymore and sometimes I shiver and it wakes my baby sister."
Lewis looked at the boy and was filled with compassion. His request was so well thought out and evident of his familyís challenges that Lewis felt moved with mercy, though he could not break character. "Well, Patrick, I am sure that you have been a very good boy this year and I think your wish is something that Santa is going to be able to fulfill."
Patrick wrapped his arms around Lewisí neck and thanked him sweetly before heading back to the gate and meeting his mother. They walked off together towards the exit. Lewis finished out the evening. Seeing dozens of children and hearing their Christmas wishes but none stuck in his mind the way that Patrick did.
"Lord," he prayed, "Please give me a chance to make this boyís wish come true."
By the time the night had ended, Lewis was exhaustedóeven with the cup of coffee Kate had bought him. He helped clean up and then changed back into his normal clothing. He walked out into the parking lot. The snow was still falling slowly and softly. He shuffled to his car, being careful not to slip. In the process, he heard voices coming from another
car in the parking lot and looked over to see the little boy, Patrick and his mother and sister.
Lewis approached them tenderly. "Excuse me, do you need help with something?" Lewis asked politely. "I, uh, yeah, I canít seem to get my car to start. Iím not sure whatís wrong. It may just need to be jumped," the woman replied, startled but receptive.
"Let me help you with that," Lewis mentioned as he went to get his car. He pulled up in front of her and opened both of the hoods to their cars and then connected the wires here and there. Soon enough, the car was running once again. The woman thanked him sweetly as the children slept in the back seat. She got into her car ready to leave.
"Um, Iím sorry, excuse me, miss?" Lewis said. "Would it be possible for you to wait here for just a few minutes? I have something I want to give you."
Lewis didnít even wait for a reply. He was off, rushing back inside the mall and going into the first department store he could find realizing this was the opportunity he had asked for. He grabbed a few pairs of fleece pajamas in multiple sizes, some for Patrick and some for his sister. He went to the check out line and grabbed a gift card, paid, and
then headed back out into the parking lot. Much to his surprise, the woman had waited. Lewis approached the car again with a bag full of pajamas and with the gift card in hand.
He leaned forward and whispered as to not wake the children, "Please tell them these are from Santa. There are pajamas for them to grown into as well." Tears filled the womanís eyes as she took Lewisí hands in hers. "You have made their Christmas dreams come true," she said with a soft smile.
They drove off and Lewis watched them fade into the snowy distance. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his cellphone, dialing his houseís phone number. Ruth answered.
"Ruth," Lewis said, "I need you to get ready. I will be coming home soon and I will need your assistance. Can you please print out a list of all of the assistance shelters, orphanages, and transitional homes within the area? I think there is a need for cozy pajamas."
Lewis went back inside and cleared out sections of pajamas in all sizes across the department store. He swung by his house and picked up Ruth. They spent the rest of the evening traveling to various locations and passing out pajamas to men, women, and children.
When morning came, Lewis was off to work again. When he entered the mall, he was already in his Santa attire and carrying boxes of hot chocolate, coffee, donuts, and bagels.
Kate approached him with a smile across her face. "Mr. Lewis" she said "what finally got you into the holiday spirit?" He looked up at her, filled with his own sense of jolliness. "It took me sometime but I learned from others that the holidays are about compassion and ultimately, about scatting your crumbs."
Soon winter falls upon your life,
The day of reckoning comes:
Against your sins, by high decree,
Are weighed those scattered crumbs.
Read other articles by Lydia Olsen