I am not a winter person.
But it's not quite winter yet. It's still fall.
It's December and Christmas has been charging full steam at our Calendars now for the last two weeks.
Last year about this time, my eldest daughter Alannah was questioning Santa Claus. So she and I had a long discussion about how Santa lives in your heart in the faith you hold that he exists. I wrote about this last year in a story called "Believe and He Exists".
But a year to an eight year old seems like an eternity. It does not seem as recent as it does to a nearly fifty year old Daddy.
So I shouldn't be surprised that last year's conversation has slipped out of her mind.
She seems to want to be grown up at only eight years old.
Meanwhile, our youngest daughter Ashley-Rae is seven. The same age Alannah was last year, but Ashley-Rae understands believing – and does not throw such logical explanations at us in such a well structured case of court room prosecution style that the fat man in the red suit is fake.
"You're Santa Claus Daddy, what do you think I am … stupid?" says Alannah, my future crown attorney.
I was getting ready for work last week. Standing in front of the bath room mirror brushing my teeth, I saw my own reflection.
I am heavier this year. Nearly two-hundred and forty pounds. Okay, I'm fat.
My hair is a bit longer in the cold weather – not nearly as short as my profile picture suggests. And every year in the cold weather I grow a beard. Not just the white goatee like my profile picture suggests – so this year more than years before – my beard is growing in white.
And it's pretty full.
See where I am going with this yet?
So this year I will continue to let my hair fill in. And I will let my beard grow as long as I can in the short four weeks left.
After this divine revelation presented in my bathroom mirror reflection – I bided my time for Alannah's next session of professional analysis. The clincher was at the point where she restated her position that "Daddy, you're Santa Claus" as her clinching argument.
"What does Santa Claus look like?", I asked.
"He is a big fat guy with a white beard", her voice raising an octave as she said "beard" – questioning where I was going.
"Yup", I said.
She picked up a shopping flyer left behind on the kitchen table from her weekly shopping planning excursion through the ads in the newspaper.
"He looks like this Daddy, but this is not the real Santa Claus".
I took the flyer from her hand. I looked at the picture. I held it up next to my own face.
"Look familiar?", I asked.
I pulled my reading glasses from my shirt pocket and I put then on the end of my nose, like the Santa in the picture.
Alannah just looked at me.
I asked her if she remembered our conversation from last Christmas – that cold evening in the garage where I explained that Santa Clause is in your heart – and lives in your faith – like the baby Jesus lives in your heart – lives in your faith.
"Oh yeah", answered my little girl slipping out of her analytical grown up persona and back into my little girl with an open heart.
"You have to believe for Santa to be real", I reminded her.
She looked at me, and she looked at the picture again. And then she looked at me.
I just gave her a little wink, looking down at her over my spectacles.
She gave me a hug, and then without a word she ran downstairs to the area around the pool table – where our indoor decorations were pulled out of the closet waiting in their boxes to be re-allocated around the interior of our lovely home.
She came back upstairs with a handful of read Santa hats. She handed me mine – with the name "Daddy" written in glitter and glue on the fluffy white fur bottom of the hat.
I put it on.
"Oh my …" said Alannah. "But your beard is not long enough."
"Not yet, I still have four weeks your know"
Alannah smiled and ran off to play with her sister.
Again, like last year, our conversation ended with my uncertainty of its effect.
But this year, I am a bit behind an eight ball now.
The next move is mine – and I really don't have a clue what to do.
I believe sincerely that Santa Claus lives within the heart of all that believe. He lives in our faith, and he lives in our actions.
But all I did was play off the fact I got fat, my beard happens to be white, and my now aging face with my wrinkled eyes looks a tiny bit like Santa's – if the light is right and I wear my spectacles on the end of my nose.
Now I have to back up this big impression with something substantial to make a lasting impression on my future female Clarence Darrow. If Santa lives in our actions, what should my next action be?
What do I do now? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated?
How do I get myself in messes like this?