By Mike DuBose, M. S. W.
email address: Mike@grantexperts.com
What I am about to tell you usually stuns most adults----I, Mike DuBose, Founder and President of Research Associates, being in sound mind and body do proudly profess that I SAW SANTA CLAUS! Most of my professional colleagues look at me in amazement when I tell the following story. After all, I am a business leader with major responsibilities in a number of successful companies, so they expect at least a modicum of sanity from one to who logic and responsible are very important. I am also a psychologist, so I have spent much time trying to understand and really explain to myself what happened.
When I tell them that I really, truly saw Santa Claus they immediately start checking to see if my forehead's a little warm and then proceed to explaining to me how my seeing the 'ole man in red' was really just the acute imagination of a child whose perception of reality was a little off. One of my friends even went so far as to describe the occurrence as a hallucination but I tell all of them just like I told my family that December night in 1959----I SAW SANTA CLAUS
I was about nine years old, living in rural Darlington, South Carolina----known to some as 'home of the Southern 500' or to others as 'the place on the way to the beach'. Whatever they called it, to me it was, and still is, the place where I SAW SANTA CLAUS!
The story begins on the way to my grandparent's home in Lamar, South Carolina. Like most children, we were excited about Christmas, seeing relatives (wondering who was on the outs with who this year), and especially looking forward to the good ole fashioned meals my grandmother, our matriarch and the glue that held us all together, took pride in preparing. She used all those good things that made food taste really great---fatback, lots of salt, heavy butter---all the things that by today's standards are a sure tack in your coffin! Ah, the innocence of childhood---to us, everything was grand!
We ate, played games, exchanged presents, and then shot firecrackers---an annual event with out family made popular by my father. Then we got back in our car and started on our way back to Darlington. With each mile, our excitement grew as we anticipated the coming of Christmas and the receiving of gifts. As we turned into the driveway, the adrenaline surged through my body because I knew that within the hour I would go to sleep and then awake to presents galore.
After convincing my mother that I really didn't need a bath that night (even though she smelled the fireworks residue and leftover turkey on me), I jumped on the cool, clean sheets of the bed and hunkered down under the warmth of my blankets. My mother smiled, and Left us to our dreams.
But I couldn't sleep. My mind was racing and all kinds of thoughts were going through my head: a little fear from hearing the wind outside brush the azaleas against the windows; the darkness of the night approaching; the anticipation of what I was hoping to receive the next morning; but most importantly, the discouraging news that I had received earlier from a friend.
Just that morning, my friend told me that there would not be a Santa Claus that Christmas. I was horrified and immediately went to my mother, hoping she would dispel this myth. To my frustration, she confirmed this horrible news. Not only did Santa not exist but (gasp!) my parents had been Santa all along!
As I fell asleep, the only thing that could comfort me was a little prayer that my parents had taught me. "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my Soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my Soul to take". I fell into a deep sleep.
Around 3 AM, I was awakened by loud rustling in the next room that sounded as though presents were being opened. No longer sleepy, I was now alert and attentive. I thought back to the news my friend and my mother had given me earlier. There was no Santa Claus, so my parents must be in the other room getting ready for Christmas. I lay quietly waiting for them to go back to bed so I could spring into action and see what gifts had been left for me..
Suddenly everything became very still---like the calm before the storm. It was an eerie feeling like nothing I had ever experienced. Scared beyond belief but as curious as a cat, I started to get out of bed. Suddenly the door to my room began to slide open. I waited in frenzied anticipation expecting to see my mother. But to my absolute amazement, someone else walked in.
There in the entrance to my doorway, stood...SANTA CLAUS!!! Just like in every book where I'd seen a picture and at the end of every Christmas parade---there stood the man that my friend and my mother had said never existed.
I thought the dim light of the night light was playing tricks on my eyes, but just as the thought surfaced in my head, he walked over to my television and turned on the lamp that sat on top. The whole room lit up. I pretended to be asleep but I kept my eyes cracked just a little so I could see what he was doing. This had to either be one of my parents, a relative, or someone my parents had hired to surprise me. There was no way that Santa Claus could be in my room!! He moved about my room as if he were a member of our household who had been there millions of times before. My eyes followed his every move and I looked as hard as I could, trying to figure out is this was real or if I could tell who was really in the suit. His hair was as white as any snow I had ever seen. His beard was fluffy like a cloud. And his suit fit perfectly as though it was specially made for him and only him. If my parents had put this together, they were surely putting on a good show. He made his way over to my bed, smiled lovingly, and pulled the covers over me (after all small sleeping child could catch their death of cold if not properly covered). He looked at me in a way that only a loving parent or someone who really cared about me could. I felt a warmth radiating from him that went far beyond what a hired person would have conveyed. I was convinced --this was the real deal!!
I continued to watch as he exited the room. As soon as he was out the door, I jumped up on the bed and asked myself, "WHO OR WHAT WAS THAT??!!!" My emotions were everywhere. I was excited...I was scared...I was confused...I was...I was...110% AWAKE that was for sure! I wanted to run outside but at that moment I was too scared of what else I might see. So I plopped down in the middle of the bed wondering what to do....
Suddenly, out of the stillness of the night, I heard what sounded like someone walking around on top of our house. We didn't have insulation back then so the sound was loud and clear! Just as suddenly, I heard little tapping sounds that could only be described as the sound of deer walking on the roof! And it wasn't just one or two of them...it was a crowd! I'll be honest, I didn't go out and count to see if there were nine and no, I didn't hear anything about any of them being named Rudolph. But I knew something extra special was happening on my roof that didn't usually occur.
As the footsteps got closer to where the sounds of the tapping were coming from, the tapping became frantic...almost like my dog does when approached from being in school all day.
Then, I heard this laughing and the tapping began to move forward, I felt as though I was under a bridge and a herd of horses were running across it over me. But my roof was no bridge. I began to realize that this was Christmas and THAT the person who was on my roof was Santa Claus with his reindeer. I then heard the ...yes... sled dragging across the roof top. I could hear the reindeer pulling with all their might and slowly the sound of tapping disappeared as if...pair by pair...they were flying off into the air. The last sound I heard was the sled dragging across the roof and then suddenly, it was gone.
I shot out into the yard, only to see the beauty of the universe created by God and the stillness that only a night at 3 AM would contain. There was total quietness and no one to be seen. I ran around the house anticipating to see my relatives up to no good with big smiles on their faces but, to my surprise, I saw no one. I scanned across my house but there was no one their either. I looked on the neighbors' roofs thinking I would see ole' Saint Nick but still, no one...NOTHING! Not even a Ho! HO! HO!
My heart was racing and my adrenaline was pumping! Goose bumps covered me from head to foot! I couldn't explain what just happened. But I knew one thing---I had just seen Santa Claus.I stood there in the cold, hoping I would get another glimpse of the ole man in red! I returned to the house and as I opened the door, I peeped in not knowing what I would see. The presents lay there, unwrapped but I knew that I had distinctly heard the sound of paper tearing earlier. Still there not a scrap to be found. I peeked into my parent's bedroom only to see that they were fast asleep. The presents that I had so eagerly anticipated were insignificant now---what I had just seen and experienced was the greatest gift God could have ever sent me!
My parents swear they never planned the event and to be quite honest, the details would have been quite difficult if not impossible to carry out without my noticing what was going on. Think about it, reindeer on the roof, sled dragging, the fella in the middle of my room. Did I see Sana Claus, that jolly old fellow dressed in red---Yes! Do I believe in Santa Claus? Yes! Can I give you a logical explanation of what happened? No! Did God send an angel to visit me that wonderful Christmas? I'm not sure. But one thing I do know---it happened!
Santa has never visited me since. But that one visit will remain with me until my grave. I can recall every detail of that Christmas and I must say it was the greatest of them all. I was one of the few who has seen Santa and every year I tell my children of this wonderful story.
Now at 51 years old, I firmly believe that my visit was a gift from God. For many this year, Christmas will not be an exciting time of the year but a season that is filled with stress, grief, sorrow. loss and depression.
For many of us, it is the celebration of an event that happened over 2,000 years ago. That event, though sometimes difficult to understand, changed the course of the world and gave all mankind something to believe that will never fade away.
While Santa may not visit you this Christmas, always remember that Jesus is the reason for the season. For those of us who do believe, this time of the year marks the birth of a Savior who came to earth over 2,000 years ago, died for us, and accepted the sins of the world so that we may live and have eternal life. While it may be difficult to arrange a visit from Santa Claus, Jesus comes in a flash to those who invite Him.
Merry Christmas everyone and may your 2003 be filled with Peace and Happiness!
The author, Mike DuBose, M. S. W., a native of Darlington, South Carolina, is a graduate of the University of South Carolina, and currently resides in Irmo, S. C. He is President of Research Associate and has served as an administrator with seven state agencies, a private non-profit organization, and has worked for two governors. He is also a Deacon with the Saint Andrews Prebyterian Church where he teaches Sunday School.