Perhaps my family and friends are right when they tell me that I am a bit crazy, but I believe that if we can do something good for someone, we should do it.
Every Christmas I remember something eccentric I did many years ago. A family had just arrived to this wonderful country of Australia from Chile. They started attending the Spanish church at Springvale, Victoria, where my husband and I were members. l thought it would be a good idea to invite this couple and their lovely children to our house to celebrate Christmas, this being an important time in our culture.
I started adorning the Christmas tree, wrapped all the presents for the children, prepared a special dinner and of course made a beautiful pan de pascua (Christmas cake).
In my head I was anticipating the wonderful time that we were going to have on that evening—having a nice meal, listening to Christmas carols and then at midnight opening the presents.
I could almost see the children’s happy faces. It was going to be a memorable evening. On Christmas Eve, there was a special Christmas program at Springvale Spanish church. All went well. At the end of the program, I approached this new family and invited them to our house for the rest of the evening but they stated that the children were very tired and only wanted to go home.
I was extremely disappointed. I had prepared everything for them with such love and care. I was very angry with myself for not giving them enough notice. Sad, I went home but I was not going to give up. I told my husband that the next day we were going to get up early, put everything in the car and visit them. I told him I was going to dress myself as Santa Claus, as I had already bought the Santa costume—with the wig, beard and black boots.
My husband told me I was crazy—that it was too much trouble—but he must have felt sorry for me as he agreed to take me the following day.
"I was happy to have given the children a bit of happiness, sharing the blessings that our Lord so generously gives us."
Very happy, I put everything in the car, got a big red bag filled with presents and a loud bell to announce the arrival of Santa Claus.
That morning was very hot. I was steaming in the Santa suit and our car did not have air-conditioning. It was like an oven.
A driver next to us looked over and shouted: “You need a cold drink Santa?” My husband just looked at me and shook his head, perhaps secretly wondering what my next crazy idea would be.
We arrived at the unit. I got out of the car with the red bag, ringing the loud bell, saying HO HO HO. There were some children outside the units, playing with their new toys. They came running to see Santa.
With all the noise and children’s laughter the Chilean family came out to see what was going on. They did not recognise me at first but the mother and father knew who I was when they saw my husband. Their children were very happy to see me.
I apologised to them for being late. I told them I was travelling from Chile, which was so far away. The happiest was the smallest child who kept staring at me. I gave him a big hug and a kiss telling him they were from his grandmother in Chile. He believed me, displaying a large smile. I gave them the presents and we soon left, once again ringing the Santa bell and calling HO HO HO. As soon as I got into the car I took the black rubber boots off—they had been hurting all this time—but in my heart I was happy; I was happy to have given the children a bit of happiness, sharing the blessings that our Lord so generously gives us. Many years have passed; now I am in my 80s. I still remember that unforgettable Christmas. Even though it was hot and uncomfortable, if I had the chance, I would do it again.
Gladys Saez writes from Blackburn, Victoria.