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I Think I Just Met Santa!

On Chiristmas Day, I actually met Santa Claus! Though his real name is Lance - he had chubby, rose colored cheeks, a twinkle in his eye and a belly so large, that it jiggled when he laughed.... Not a small man, yet he was soft spoken and incredibly gentle - so much so that my daughter's 3 month old baby cooed in his arms for hours in complete contentment. When he speaks, there's a bit of a chuckle in the background and when I first entered his home, he looked me right in the eye and said "Welcome, Anne." It may not seem like much that he remembered my name, but it impressed me in many ways. I was a stranger, not only to his home, but to the large group of people who had gathered there. By welcoming me wholeheartedly and, in particular, by speaking my name, I felt both welcome and known. In one simple, genuine gesture of kindness,

I sat next to Lance at the dinner table and enjoyed his stories - often filled with chuckles - of his one and only job. He's been working for the same company for over 45 years. Though not an owner, he spoke of the business with both pride and care. After more than 4 decades of the same ol', same ol', he still enjoys each day! He spoke of their numerous customers - building contractors to whom they supply wholesale plumbing supplies and how, even in the worst of times, these contractors make sure they pay their bills. He spoke not only with pride, but with a sense of joy at his personal success working with the same people decade after decade. He told me how one contractor filed bankruptcy, but still made sure that he paid his bill. He spoke of another contractor who after having disappeared for more than 10 years came back to pay his long overdue bill of $800. It wasn't the stories he told me that so impressed me, but that he lived a life that reflected his own sense of kindness and personal integrity. People came back to him after more than a decade to make sure they paid him what was due.

It piqued my interest. What kind of man is this who commands such respect and honesty? Evidently, the same man who made me feel that I mattered and was welcome in his home even though he'd only met me once before.

In reflecting on my own life, I thought of childhood experiences where I learned that the world is a scary place; that betrayal and abandonment can happen without warning and that life can be filled with fear and pain. But this man didn't seem to have experienced that - although I knew that this wasn't his first marriage, he spoke of his wife with love and devotion, saying,"It took me three times to get it right!" His wife, likewise, spoke of him with genuine love, care and respect. What a lovely experience on Christmas Day!

I wondered what kind of childhood did this man have because those early years surely had established a sense of honor and integrity that is rarely seen. And then I wondered, what kind of life would we all have if we had the love and care that nurtured us to be the most that we can be. Instead of spending a lifetime overcoming false beliefs that we're lacking in something, or not loveable or any of the other false conclusions we have made along the way, what would life be like if our foundation was one of security, safety and true love?

Was this man like Hale Berry, who grew up with an alcoholic father and made a determined decision at age 16 that I must succeed so I never have to endure such abuse again? Was this man like Oprah, who concluded at age 13 that the only way to be assured of love was to be really successful at everything? Or did he come from a truly kind and loving family that nurtured him every step of the way. He didn't speak of his childhood nor did he go into detail about his two prior wives, but the man he is today - white haired, jolly and more loving than most people you ever meet - seems to have, I'm sure, some interesting stories to tell.

Its exciting to meet young people on the verge of exploring the world. They are often filled with enthusiasm and even an arrogance that they already know it all. I was there once. I remember in the early years of my marriage, with an infant son, I was sure I had all the answers. They say life is a journey and mine has been, like so many others, filled with great joys, but also great sadness. I didn't know then that my son wouldn't live past the age of 29. I didn't know then that someone near and dear to me would shoot himself in the head nor did I know that my study of self-growth and metaphysics would give me a wisdom beyond my years. In truth, it is doubtful that Lance aka Santa - has had a problem-free life, but the man he is today isn't flamboyant or loud or extravagant, but most impressive just the same. He is a kind man who made sure that he welcomed me by name. He is the kind of person that makes you happy to be in his presence. He is the kind of man, who knows that small gestures of kindness matter.

In my opinion, these types of people are the true world changers. Though he may never meet the Pope or travel with dignitaries or get the Nobel Peace Prize, he touches people in a very private and personal way that changes the world - most particularly - his world. He has a positive impact that touches people and, evidently, has been doing so for decades - so that 10 years later, a retired contractor returns to pay a long overdue bill of $800.

We all have impact on the world, most particularly, on our world and the people we meet. I may never see this man again, but I will always remember him and hope that the impact I have on people I meet, if only for a few hours or only for a day or two, is as positive as his.

Before my father died, he told me that he wanted to be remembered for being a kind and caring person. In order to do that, he put effort each day into being a kind and loving human being. He did this daily toward everyone he met whether that be the gas station attendant, the checkout girl at the grocery store or his nieghbor. No, that won't give him the Nobel Peace Prize, but it did give him what he wanted. We all remember him as the kind and loving man that he was - but, even more remarkable is each person who sets such nobel goals, is changing the world just a little bit because those of us that meet such a person, feel a little more known and a little more loved!

As they say, it is the Season of Giving, but people like Lance do that kind of giving all life long!

May you each experience this kind of giving on a daily basis for the rest of your lives. Thank you all for also being so supportive of my work! Happy New Year everyone and much, much happiness to you all!

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