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21 December, 2009

WHAT A SURPRISE...THAT SANTA IS ME!


I was having my usual coffee over The Toronto Star this morning.  Flipping through the pages of the Entertainment/Living Section, a strangely familiar face starred back at me from Page E6.

"Good God almighty...That's me!" I shouted out loud.  I really could not believe my eyes, but "the eyes" behind a billowy white beard were the coincidental giveaway.

The photo (above) of two children, one visibly upset, sitting on Santa Claus' lap, was included in a Star feature this week entitled "Holiday Histrionics:  The Santa Sessions".

Clutching the newspaper page, I ran to my computer to bring up an almost identical photo of me as a Brampton City Centre Mall Santa in 1990 with my granddaughter Alyssa sitting rather pensively on my lap (see photo below).  No question about it -- a match!  How unbelievable.  How absolutely magical.  What are the chances? 

The caption accompanying the 19-year-old photo, told the story:  Heading: "In the twinkling of an eye, a Christmas photo shot can turn upside down as Star readers prove -- and generously share with their pictures..." 

"Little Adriana Lawrence was calm until she turned to look at Santa.  'You might as well take the picture, whether she screams or not,' said grandmother Maureen Lawrence of Brampton, who took the baby with her brother Peter, 3, to meet the mall Santa in 1990.  Dressed in Christmas outfits, the kids were quiet until Adriana turned to see St. Nick, 'and that was it -- she just bawled and bawled.'  (Believe it or not, I remember the scene and the little girl's big brown eyes looking up at me before she broke out in screams of terror.  I tend to have that affect on women, even when I'm not wearing a beard.)  Mrs. Lawrence, a retired nurse, describes it as "a treasure picture." Adriana, now 20, and brother Peter, now 21, are in college."

Nineteen Christmases later, my granddaughter Alyssa, 21, is also a college student.

Oh yes...About the eyes:  As a Santa, I tried to be as authentic as possible and always painted my eyebrows white to match the beard.  My special eyebrow makeup?  I used Whiteout correctional fluid which was unmistakable in the Star photo, as it was in my scrapbook photo with Alyssa.

I just have to attempt to contact Mrs. Lawrence to let her know how much she has made this a very special Christmas for one old pretend Santa.  HO, HO, HO!


Photo of Lyssie and Santa appears in my new book Wrights Lane: Come On In, accompanying a story "The Magic of Playing Santa Claus."

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