This past weekend, I performed a solemn, time-honored duty which has fallen upon uncles since the Beginning of Time.
I was Santa Claus at the annual Christmas Party at my cousin's house.
This is the second year running that I've done it, and I'm actually quite upset that I hadn't been asked to do it earlier. I wanted to do it for many years. I have four nephews -- only one of them is still small enough to believe, now -- and my sister would never take me up on it whenever I offered to wear the Red Suit. So, I missed a great thing, an almost rite-of-passage, with my three, older nephews.
On the other hand, my cousins have several small children of their own, and so do their friends, so there's plenty of kids around for me to indulge (or am I really just indulging myself, I wonder?).
Being Santa is one of those bittersweet sort of activities. The suit is hotter than anything you can imagine. Between the flannel and the fake fur, not to mention the wig, beard and hat, and you're sweating before you really get started. Let's not even get into the make-up, because, well, you need those rosy cheeks and powdered eyebrows otherwise the smarter kids recognize you -- and I had to sacrifice my mustache, too! But, I'd do anything for the kids.
But the payoff is worth it. The kids get excited. They jump up and down and sing songs, and give you great big hugs, and if you're lucky, when they sit in your lap for the photograph, they're smiling from ear-to-ear. And you get to hand out presents, no less! Who doesn't want to hand out presents to children? It's fun to watch the whirlwind of flying griftwrap, the raucous dogfight-like crush of little kids elbowing each other to get to the front of the line, the little kids who look at you like you have three heads -- and then cry their eyes out when they get left in your lap for a picture. The screaming, the yelling, the laughing, the out-and-out joyous chaos.
It's better than booze!