Sometimes Santa comes in the guise of a perfect stranger.
While J and I were browsing the Target toy department (of which he is no longer afraid, yay!) on Saturday, and older German woman approached us carrying a Target bag. She asked if J had any games yet, and I said no, he didn't. She went on to tell this story:
She'd bought Candyland for her granddaughter, but the little girl already had the game. She didn't have the receipt, so she couldn't return the game, so she was looking for someone who didn't already have the game to pass it along to. No one had yet taken her up on her offer, and she was beginning to think she'd be stuck with the game indefinitely.
After she finished her story, she asked us if J would like the game, perhaps for a future Christmas since he's so young. I was floored and grateful, and not entirely sure how to react to this random act of kindness. I know the games were on sale, but to think that a total stranger just gave J a Christmas present is very touching. He is too young for it, but at worst we can use the cards to teach him his colors.
This encounter reminds me of my favorite "real" Santa story ever. When I was a little girl, my family was poor. I had no idea how poor at the time. I thought everyone shopped at Payless and Goodwill. This was the year that we didn't go out to visit my grandparents in Illinois for once, and money was pretty scarce. Anyway, my mom was at a store chatting with the lady next to her in line at the register, and somehow it came out that she wasn't going to be able to buy my sister and I what we wanted for Christmas. I guess she mentioned some of the toys by name, but I'm not sure. Christmas morning came, and there was a large sack of toys in front of our garage. I was only about 4 or 5, so I can't remember for certain, but I think that the toys included a fantastic play kitchen with faucet knobs that turned and everything, which would be one of my sister's and my favorite items for several more years to come. How that stranger was able to deliver the toys to us on Christmas morning I may never know, but I do know one thing. The magic of Santa lives in those friends we haven't had the chance to know, and it is very, very real.