By Charles Towne
“Merry Christmas and a happy ho, ho, ho”
Oh, how time does fly! It was quite a few years ago that I slipped, slid, and was dragged, bleeding and bruised through the somewhat interesting beginning of my life as a zoo director, lion tamer, destroyer of beaver dams with dynamite, handler of anything and everything that would bite, poison, chew, gnaw, rip, tear, fold, spindle and mutilate, and otherwise make life interesting for Mrs. Towne’s little boy.
And then one day I found myself in Florida.
Two or three years later some deluded soul asked me to play Santa Claus for the children’s ward at Florida Hospital. Hmm, what in the world would possibly give anybody the idea that I would make a good Saint Nick? That night I stood and postured before the bathroom mirror. I was shocked! I weighed over 220 pounds at the time, had a full white beard, a head-full of white hair, and a gut that would have given Tim Allen’s character a run for his money in the movie, THE SANTA CLAUSE.
They say that mirrors never lie, HA! So, I played Santa Claus that year, and the next, and the next. I don’t like the word fat. Rotund, or corpulent? Maybe. Pleasingly plump? Perhaps. But surely not fat! And all the while that darned, lying bathroom mirror was screaming, GROSSLY FAT! I didn’t feel like Santa when I looked in the mirror, nope, more like the Grinch! It was Christmas Eve, and I was on my way home after entertaining the kids at Florida Hospital when I decided to have some fun. I drove through an upscale neighborhood in Longwood and saw what I was looking for – a garishly decorated house with about fifty cars lining the street in front.
I parked, hopped out, and like the spry little elf I am, I skipped up the sidewalk to the front door, threw open the door without knocking, and with a “HO, HO, HO!” burst into the revelry. I dawdled the kids on my lap, kissed all the ladies, shook hands with the gents, ho, ho, ho’ing, all the while. I had a glass of eggnog, and then, with an exuberant, “MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!” I escaped, but not before a gent I took to be the man of the house followed me out, and with a happy laugh, he pressed a one-hundred dollar bill into my hand and said, “Mr. you are the best Santa I have ever seen! I don’t know where my wife found you, but you are terrific!” I tried to refuse the money, honestly, but he insisted I take it.
I was almost home when I began wondering about how the next Santa, the one his wife hired, was going to be received? I am probably the only Santa that ever crashed a Christmas party in Longwood and got paid for it. I don’t do things like that anymore for a couple of reasons, one is because my conscience wouldn’t let me get away with it, and today I wouldn’t pass for Santa anyway what with my having lost about thirty-five pounds and shaving my head everyone would know I was an imposter. My gift to you all is a smile and perhaps a laugh, and a joyful Merry Christmas. Chaz
Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.