Not So Great Expectations

What kind of a world do we live in where someone would steal Santa’s pants?  Even the naughty list is too good for a bum like that.  I think we need to invent a whole new category called the “Don’t Mess With Santa” list.  Forget the lump of coal.  At this point Santa should just show up at the guilty party’s house and confiscate home electronics. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself here.
 Let me back up and start by saying I hadn’t planned on writing another word about Christmas this year, but that was before this ugly pants incident.  Now, however, I will not rest until the truth is exposed. 
It all started when my boss asked me to play Santa at our staff Christmas party and pass out holiday presents.  When I say play Santa, I mean really play Santa, the costume, elves and the whole nine yards.  Actually the elves were my idea, but if I had to dress up in a ridiculous costume, I could at least take comfort that I was accompanied by two grown men in tights.  It guaranteed that I wouldn’t be the dumbest looking guy in the room.  Or so I thought. 
I have to admit, even though I was reluctant at first, I got an injection of Christmas spirit when I tried on the suit.  Once you put on that costume, you feel jolly.  You just can’t help it.  Plus, I look good in red.  I thought, hey, this could actually be fun.  
The problem started in the men’s room when the elves and I were suiting up.  Because our party was held in a restaurant, we didn’t have a great place to change and didn’t realize until show time that we had nowhere to stash our clothes.  Fortunately, the restaurant wasn’t yet open to the public, just our church staff, ministers who I would have thought I could trust with my personal belongings. 
Guess again.
In our naivete we stuffed our clothes in a restroom stall, not giving it a second thought, and went and joined the party.   
In all due modesty, I was an amazing Santa.  I ho-ho-hoed with gusto, shook my belly like a bowl full of jelly and spread more Christmas cheer than Bing Crosby and Andy Williams rolled into one. 
After opening with a rousing rendition of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” we followed it up with some witty yuletide banter and brought down the house by distributing gifts.   
Yes, it was pure Christmas magic.  But after forty-five minutes of sweating under an itchy beard, I was hungry, tired and ready to sit down and enjoy some lunch.   Back in the men’s room I began to change out of my red and white suit, and that’s when I ran into a snag.   While I was out ringing my jingle bells, bringing joy to the world, some degenerate Scrooge decided it would be funny to steal Santa’s pants.  That’s right, my jeans were gone. 
Yes, I know what you’re thinking.  Why do bad things happen to good Santas?  Well, that’s just the way the Christmas cookie crumbles. 
Long story short (I know, too late for that), I had suit up again, go back out and eat in costume, waiting a good hour for the room to clear and for my pants to mysteriously resurface before I could leave.  By that time it was just me, a couple of busboys and the poor lady who was waiting for me to change clothes so she could return the costume. 
I don’t know what kind of Christmas you had, but maybe it wasn’t what you expected.  Maybe you just wanted to be a blessing and you got Grinched in return.  I’m guessing no one stole your pants, but maybe they stole your joy.  You had visions of precious time with family and instead got nothing but drama.   You gave sacrificially and got no thanks in return.  Maybe you had great Christmas expectations, but at the end of the day, ended up disappointed as usual. 
I’ve always struggled with disappointment with the holidays because I’m such an idealist.  Like Clark Griswold from the Christmas Vacation movie, I yearn for Norman Rockwell celebrations that nothing and no one can ever live up to.  It’s just part of my wiring.  But once I realized this a few years ago, it helped me to enjoy myself so much more.  It helped me to release other people of my unattainable expectations and take joy in little moments of laughter and fun. 
“Why, my soul, are you downcast?” the Bible asks.  “Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God!”
Did I give up my dream of ideal holidays?  No way!  But God helped me to flip it on its head.  Instead of expecting the ideal in others, God challenged me to BE the ideal FOR others.  I can’t force others to be thankful for the gifts I give them, but I can express thankfulness to them.  I can’t control how stressed out friends and family get at the holidays, but I can maintain a spirit of peace myself.  Not just at Christmas, but all year long.  In other words, as we go into a new year, I’ll keep on playing Santa no matter times they steal my pants. 

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