A grownup’s Christmas wish brought to life

By: Joe Weaver - Contributing Columnist

[Note: The writer wished to have this column from a previous year to run again this week.]

I’d like to take a small survey of the readers of this column. It’s a simple question. How many of you believe in Santa Claus?

If I were a betting man, I would wager not many of you are, for a few reasons. Most adults no longer believe and most 7-year-olds don’t read my column. A lot of us stop believing when we are approaching double digits in age or when we catch Dad using a few choice words in the middle of the night while he fervently attempts the assembly of a bicycle in the living room.

I know for a fact that some of the things my father requested of Mr. Schwinn and Mr. Huffy were physically impossible and probably illegal in at least 10 states.

I am going to get this out in the open right now: I believe in Santa Claus.

I am in my mid-40s and I believe with my heart and soul that there truly is a Santa Claus. Whether he is a jolly fat man in a red suit is still up for debate. I’m going to tell you a story that not only is absolutely true, it will have you believing in Santa Claus.

First, there needs to be a little background. This background is personal and it will have you a little confused at first. You’ll wonder what it has to do with Christmas or Santa Claus, but bear with me and you will see.

In my early 20s, I was in a short relationship with a woman also in her 20s. As things often happen in relationships, we found ourselves expecting a child. I will shorten the story a great deal here to omit certain personal details and not bore you with the particulars. We all know what happens in relationships and we all know how babies are made.

Unfortunately, a long-term relationship was not in the cards for the young lady and I and she moved back to her home state while still carrying our child. Eventually, our contact grew less frequent and we drifted apart. Only when I got a telephone call from a mutual friend did I discover I had a daughter.

Years passed. Initially, the Internet was not around, so you could not just punch someone’s name in a search engine and locate them within minutes. I knew I had a daughter, but she also had a mother who didn’t wish any contact with me. After a convoluted series of misunderstandings and miscommunications, life took us in very different directions.

Eventually, I would marry and have another daughter. My first daughter was never a secret with my family and we hoped one day we would have contact. There was always a glimmer of hope, but I never knew where to begin and every lead took me down a road with a dead end.

And this is where you wonder what this has to do with Christmas and Santa Claus.

Every year, Macy’s department store, in a nod to “Miracle on 34th Street,” puts a big red mailbox in each of its stores. Children can write cards to Santa with their Christmas wishes and deposit them in the box so the cards can be forwarded to Santa at the North Pole. My younger daughter and I were in Macy’s and she wanted to write her Christmas list on a card and mail it to Santa.

“You write one, too.” she instructed me.

I sat down at the little table and took a card and a red crayon. It’s no secret I am a gun guy. I was hoping for a new shotgun that Christmas, so I wrote on my card in big block letters:

Dear Santa,

I don’t ask for much. I’d like for my family to be happy. If you can manage it, I’d also like a shiny new Remington for Christmas.

Regards,

Joe Weaver

I folded my card and dropped it in the box. My daughter dropped hers in and we went back to wandering the mall and drinking hot chocolate and doing the things people do a couple of weeks before Christmas.

By this time, the world had been taken over by social media. I would sit up in the evenings, scouring social media in hopes of locating my older daughter. I wondered what she was like. Was she like me? What did she look like? Did she want to find me?

Christmas came and went. As did New Year’s Day, Valentine’s, Easter and all the others. Spring bloomed and turned to summer. One afternoon, I was searching Facebook and found my daughter.

I debated about sending a message. My wife told me I would be a fool if I didn’t. I didn’t know what to do. I was scared and confused. Then, I saw something that made my decision for me. My daughter was the mother of a beautiful baby boy. Both of them took the breath from my lungs and filled my heart with wonder.

I found my daughter. I had a grandson who was born that past January. His name is Remington.

Let’s take another look at that letter to Santa.

Dear Santa,

I don’t ask for much. I’d like for my family to be happy. If you can manage it, I’d also like a shiny new Remington for Christmas.

Regards,

Joe Weaver

You are reading that right. I asked Santa for a Remington for Christmas. I got one. One that could not possibly be more special.

Take a moment this Christmas season. Take a moment and make a Christmas wish. Talk to the Santa in the mall. Leave a little note in a mailbox in a department store. You never know — you just might be sharing your wish with the real deal.

Merry Christmas from my family to yours.

Baltimore native Joe Weaver is a husband, father, pawnbroker and gun collector. From his home in New Bern, he writes on the lighter side of family life.

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Joe Weaver

Contributing Columnist