By Paul Hatch
Yesterday, Friday the 22nd of November, I was preparing to smoke a turkey in my backyard. I was practicing for our first smoked Thanksgiving turkey. (I was practicing because I didn't want to fail under the pressure of 17 visiting relatives next week).
Anyway, I had been at it for most of the day. I was tinkering with my snow blower in the garage for a while and I went to check on the bird. But when I got there I found Santa sitting on my bench and feeding greens to two reindeer! I was stunned!
Santa looked up at me and said "Hello, Paul. Have you been a good boy this year?". I gulped. I have always believed in Santa but I am a man of 54 years now. It has been a long time since I had a face-to-face conversation with Santa Claus. I think the last time was in 1954, at a Montgomery Wards in Toledo. I can't believe Santa remembered me after all these years.
I didn't sit on his lap. I've put on a little weight since the last time I saw Santa. And besides, I was really wondering if I was a good boy this year. My wife told me the other day that I wasn't a very good boy at all this year. I thought she was kidding but the thought struck me that maybe Santa was there to give me bad news.
"I don't know, Santa. What do you think?" I said. Santa gave a hearty ho-ho-ho and a smile and said I was still a good boy. Then he apologized for stopping at my house unexpectedly. He said that he was training a new reindeer named Gomer (he's the one on the left in the picture) and suddenly Nan (the reindeer on the right) got a little sick in her tummy.
Santa said Nan smelled my smoking turkey and told Santa she would feel better if she could rest for a minute on my patio. He saw some fresh greens there and picked them for Nan to nibble on, hoping it would help make her feel better. Santa said he only stopped at my house because he knew I was a good boy and still believed in him.
Santa and I had a nice visit. I told him I felt honored to have him at my home and that he was welcome any time. I offered him some smoked turkey but he said he needed to get going. I explained to Santa that nobody would believe me if I told them that the real Santa was in my backyard. In fact, I said to him, people are going to think I am a little crazy. Santa merely laughed a little and asked what he could do to help. I asked him if it was okay if I took his picture. He said that would be fine if I could hurry.
So that's what I did and this is the picture that proves it. That is my backyard and that's Santa sitting on my bench feeding greens to Gomer and Nan.