Kay Conklin - Contributing Columnist

You know how I know there is a Santa Claus? It’s because I saw him and I got to talk to him.

In all my life, I have never gotten to talk to Santa Claus to tell him what I wanted for Christmas. You would think that at my age, it would have happened. But it hasn’t. Why not? When I was in the 2nd grade, my older siblings took me to see him. But, the crowd was so large, we just stood and looked, but never got near enough to talk to him.

I’ve seen Santa in parades in town, but only saw him waving as he passed by.

But, just a week ago Saturday, while I was greeting people at our annual “Christmas in Ashley” event, I saw him. I was walking past the room he was in and noticed no children were there at that moment. Without thinking, I just walked in and found myself saying, “This is the first time I have come to see you, Santa.” And do you know what he said? He said something about having been at our cabin in the woods.

He didn’t really say he had read my article about our cabin, he just started talking about having been at that retreat at our cabin with the other junior high kids from our church when they stayed overnight. (This had happened over 40 years ago.)

He had been there all right, because he talked about cooking food in our bonfire. (You know, cooking with a hot dog on a stick or wrapping food in foil and putting it in the hot coals.) He has a booming voice that really sounded like Santa when I have seen him on TV.

But, this time I was going to have my chance to tell him what I wanted for Christmas, but I blew it. In all my life, I never got to talk to Santa, and I was right there, but missed my chance again because other kids started coming in the room. I went back to my place to greet people who were coming in to the sanctuary. All I got to do was to wish Santa a very Merry Christmas.

What Santa doesn’t know is that he really gave me a nice gift by telling me all he remembered about being there that weekend so many years ago. He remembered what we had done to make a nice memory for him that lasted all these 40 some years. Thanks, Santa Claus, for the gift of letting me know that you still remember.

There were a lot of wonderful people who came in our church that night. One was a 10 year old girl, who was the granddaughter of the lady serving hot chocolate and cookies. She and I discussed that all 10 year olds should start keeping a journal.

I remember now about getting to see Santa when I was out Christmas shopping several years ago. When I go shopping alone, I always pack a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to take along, as well as a bottle of water. But this particular day when I got hungry, and was about to eat my sandwich, I found I had forgotten my bottle of water.

Not many people can eat a whole double peanut butter sandwich without having something to drink. So, I went in McDonald’s and got a cup of coffee. I had parked my car facing out on to Central Ave, and while I was sitting there eating my sandwich and drinking my hot coffee, the cars on the street came to an abrupt stop right in front of me. My eyes focused on the passenger side of the car directly in front of me, and there sat Santa Claus.

He was a passenger in the car and was all decked out in his Christmas best. At that time I wondered where Santa might be going and what he was doing. Seeing him in a car is not his usual mode of transportation. He may have been there for only a minute, but it was a nice minute.

Why am I writing about being so pleased to talk to Santa? It must be because it’s never too late. I forgot that my brother-in-law, Jerry, played Santa back in the 60s.

He had the whole red suit, wig, beard, black belt, everything to play Santa. We were having a party at our house for all the guys and wives and kids of the people who

George served with the Army Reserve. I was holding our two-year old daughter on my lap. When Santa came in the room, the only part you could see of him were his eyes.

And that was enough for Cathy to recognize him and loudly say, “Jerry.” No one else in the room had any idea what that meant, and the party went on. But in a second, she knew it was her uncle, Jerry Conklin. That was one of those times we never forgot.

I would like to add a few of the famous lines written by Francis P. Church, who was the Editor of the New York Sun on Sept. 21, 1897. He had been asked by an 8-year-old girl named Virginia, if there really was a Santa Claus. He printed his famous reply in his newspaper, and titled it: “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”

The following are just three sentences I have chosen from his reply. Mr. Church wrote: “He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist. Thank God he lives, and he lives forever. 1,000 years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

Thank you, Mr. Church, and I also want to say to everyone young or old, or young at heart, Merry Christmas!

The above was written before I attended the Buckeye Valley musical Christmas concert for Senior Citizens on Friday. I had heard so much about how good it was, I didn’t want to miss it this year. And it was as great as I had been told. The choirs sang and the band played, and we had a wonderful lunch that was served by the high school students.

What a delight it was to get to have some of the high school servers sitting at our table. They wanted to make sure we had everything we needed or wanted. Thanks to all the faculty and staff of BV for giving the senior citizens a warm introduction to this Christmas season.

Kay Conklin

Contributing Columnist

Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.

Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.