Thursday, June 4, 2015

Is the North Pole in Heaven?

It is now!

Today was the saddest of days.  My favorite person in the world passed away unexpectedly from a massive heart attack.  Santa Claus.  AKA...Mike P.

 It feels like I lost my best friend.  A family member.  There will surely be a hole that I will now have to fill with the sweetest memories of Mike and what he did for my family.

2014- Meeting Winston the Hedgehog for the first time

2014- He always had a hug for me

I love how much the kids loved him!

2007- He surprised Shelbie as she came out of voice lessons with her Wish from Make a Wish! 
September 2007  Shelbie had already been through 4 months of chemotherapy. 

I hired Mike one Christmas when I had seen him at the Elementary school doing a Santa gig.  He was amazing.  He was so endearing and enchanting with his stories of reindeer and the North Pole.  He captured the magical feeling of Christmas.  His beard was real, his hair was white like the snow.  I knew that I needed more of him, his spirit.  I walked right up to him and asked if he would consider coming to my house to meet with my kids.

He said, "Yes".
I think I was more excited than they ever could have been at just 2 years old. Ever since that first Christmas, he has been coming.

Every Christmas, we would buy Christmas for another family.  That was also part of the tradition for him to come.  I wanted to instill in my kids the importance of giving and we learn that not only from Christ but from Santa.  After he was done visiting us, we would fill his bag with wrapped presents and hand him a piece of paper with an address on it.  He didn't know the family and sometimes, we didn't really know them either.  He would often just go barging through their front door, jingle bells ringing and a hearty "Ho, Ho, Ho" or sometimes, he would sneak ever so quietly through their front door and surprise them!  Well, terrify them sometimes.  ha ha.

He would always call me later and thank me for sending him to such amazing families that needed a little extra cheering up, mostly because they too had to deal with hard health problems.

Mike and I became such good friends.  He would call me several times in the year for updates on the kids.  As the kids got older, they would recognize him at the store.  I was so anxious one time that Spencer knew right off the guy in front of us was Santa.  I didn't want them to stop believing.   Mike knew how important this tradition was to me.

He leaned down and into Spencer's ear whispered..."You know who I am don't you?"
Spencer's eyes were huge!!  He nodded a firm "Yes."
Mike replied, "I told you I would be coming down here to check on you, to see if you are being naughty...or nice!  You are doing great this year!  Keep it up!  Don't tell anyone you saw me, I have to come in disguise while I take notes on how people are treating each other!"   Then he winked!

Spencer never doubted the reality of Santa for years!  I think he was 14 when he finally figured it out. Even the past few years, his visit was always a surprise and still as magical and wonderful as the first year.

The year Shelbie had to do chemo for a second time was rough.  I wasn't handling that very well.  It had only been three years since doing it for 9 months!  It's was harder the second time around.  He called me several times during the first few weeks to check up on us.  One afternoon, he got dressed up in his Santa suit and came up to the hospital to visit Shelbie.  She was so surprised!  It was the sweetest moment to see him sitting on the edge of her bed, holding her hand and making her smile.

When she was granted a Wish, he came with the Make a Wish team to surprise her with the wish.  Again, there was nothing sweeter than the gentle, loving way he had with my kids.

Most recently, Mike called me to get my opinion on something.  He had been offered a job with Mall Santas of America.  He had apparently caught some National recognition and he was thinking about taking the job.   They would send him anywhere in the United States to be a mall Santa for two months.

I was devastated when he told me he was considering that.  It would mean that this coming year, he wouldn't be able to come and see us.   I didn't want to tell him how sad I felt because I knew he was really excited about it.   He was retiring from his real job in December and this would have been a great opportunity.  He was worried too about the fact that he wouldn't be able to see us.   I told him that whatever he decided I would be fine with, he would just have to come and be Santa for Halloween but I was not going to miss a year of this tradition.

I have so many great stories about Santa.  He was just a genuine, loving guy.  He had a heart attack the night before his daughter's wedding.  They were at the rehearsal dinner.  He had bypass surgery that night and then next day, he showed up for the temple wedding and even made it for the daddy, daughter dance that night!

He came to Spencer's missionary farewell.  He always took an interest in what the kids were doing and how they were handling their life.

One such Christmas, we were struggling with so many setbacks.  He asked if he could pray with us.  He offered the most beautiful prayer, kneeling in our living room, Santa suit and all.  We cried together, we laughed together.  He has been a huge part of our family.

This past Christmas, he consoled Sam who was facing the reality of heart problems.  He told him all the reasons why he shouldn't be scared.  Christmas Eve, he was in a terrible car accident and totaled his truck on the icy highway.   He was upset more about the fact that that red truck was his 'SANTA' truck.  He spent so much time trying to find an exact replacement.  AND...he did!!!  He even showed me!

I was so glad he was okay from the accident.  I punched him in the arm and told him to take care of himself because he was such a good friend, I didn't want to lose him.

Last week was the last time I saw him!  I still can't believe it.  It feels like someone is just punched me in the gut.  I will miss him so much!!


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