... or "How I Spent My Weekend".
Last week I got a phone call from Kelly, who runs the Prince Edward Island Humane Society. Every year as a fund-raiser, the Society offers folks an opportunity to have their pet's picture taken with Santa Claus, and for that, of course, they need a Santa. Would I volunteer ...?
Ah, geez. Touch a nerve, why dontcha?
For years, I was always asked to be Santa Claus. Hey, I was chubby and jolly and had rosy red cheeks and a snow white beard and twinkling eyes and almost no arrest record for moral terpitude. So naturally, I was the guy they called.
Except - you know what? It feels about the same being asked to be Santa Claus as it would if you were a woman and your local service club called and said "We're doing a charity midway and we were hoping you would volunteer to be the Fat Lady ..."
The words "Will you be our Santa?" have always sounded like "Hey, Fat Boy ..." to me. And truth be told, for a lot of years I deserved to be asked.
But not now. I've lost 70 pounds in the past year or so, and I'm just not fat any more. I mean, there's still a fat boy living inside me, and there probably always will be. But objectively, I am no longer physically obese.
I think I whined when she asked me. "But ... but ... I'm not fat!"
"It's OK. We have lots of stuffing ..."
Well, the cause could not be better - my family has always done whatever we could to support the Humane Society. Our brainless dog Roxy and Main Cat Oliver came from there (our Emergency Auxiliary Cat, Ducky, wandered into our lives out of the fields in back). Both my daughters have volunteered there - in fact, Allison still goes once a week to take a two hour shift. So ... there was intense family pressure to say "Yes". Plus, they wanted to see me in the Santa suit, I'm sure.
So on Saturday, with Allison as my elf, I donned the Santa garb:
I was prepared to be peed on (well, who isn't?), and bitten (again ...) and scratched (...) but in fact, all the animals who came were a lot more nervous about me than I was about them. The owners were all goofily proud of their pets.
One woman brought in her little dog - I think the dog was a Yorkie, but I'm not completely sure. She was a teeny tiny thing, and she was quivering like a tuning fork. I slipped my arm under her and took the weight of her chest in the palm of my hand, and could feel her tiny heart just racing.
No wonder. She'd just been diagnosed with an enlarged heart and had recently had kidney problems and at 15 years old, well ... all you can do is treasure the moments with her, I suppose. And this is what the woman and her husband were doing. I don't think the poor thing will get another picture with Santa, so I asked the photographers to keep snapping till she looked perfect. It was a bittersweet moment.
I the end, we raised a bunch of money for the Humane Society, and people got their pictures, and someone even said to me "Santa ... you've been working out!"
All in all, a good day.