In Santa’s eyes
My dad was Santa. Really.
It was a secret
And I couldn’t tell anyone.
Pretty hard for a little kid.
It wasn’t a cheap suit, but one in heavy rich red velvet
Kitten-soft when you hugged.
There wasn’t any sign that the curly white beard wasn’t real.
It was obvious by the way he focused and really listened to each child explain his or her heart’s desire, that this really wasn’t an act.
But he was Santa, right?
He wandered around JMH, a small local grocery, with a bag of candy canes and merrily exclaiming Ho-ho-ho!
Asking each if they had been naughty or nice…even some of the grown-ups!
Mom was doing the weekly shopping.
And we skated down the polished aisles searching.
Once Santa was in sight, older brother held my hand – just in case I started to blurt anything out.
Once the intense conference with a small boy was ended, Santa stood up waved the child back to his mother.
Then he turned.
And smiled with his eyes and came towards us.
He bent way down until eye to twinkling eye . “Have you been good this year?”
Feeling giggly (who wouldn’t if in league with Santa?), I whispered conspiratorially, “Yes, Santa.”
We each got a candy cane – only one – just like all the other children.
But it was wonderful.(We rarely got candy)
Kids do deserve treats once in a while.
It was a special event worth remembering.
Other events, remembered without such joy. Only confusion.
In the fall of 1959, an angry erratic man walked onto Poe Elementary’s playground where 125 children were having recess, and set off dynamite in a briefcase.
Doctors and responders who had thought they had seen the worst of mankind could offer during their WW II, were stunned at the horror.
These were small children.
Why? Who could do such a thing?
Teachers, 2 children, the man, and his son beside him died.
Others were injured. Clothes were burned off of some.
Later, body parts fell out of trees.
Parents across Houston, hugged their children.
And turned off the TV news.
Spoke in quiet tones when children weren’t around.
But we, the children, heard the silence.
And dad sat down to talk.
There is no explanation why.
Sometimes people are too sick or too angry to think straight.
While there is bad and evil in this world, there is much that is good and beautiful.
But how do you know? How do you know if it’s bad person? That they will do bad things?
He sighed and said. “Look in their eyes. It’s there.”
He should know.
He was Santa, right?
Sometimes you just have to believe.
Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.
If we can understand, maybe it can be stopped.
Anger management badly needed.
Mental health issues need to be recognized and treated.
We at least have to look them in the eyes – and stop ignoring what is there.
“The Science of Rampage Violence is, alas, in its Infancy” Eric Berger. (links to other sources)
“Scientists search for clues for mass shootings” Houston Chronicle. Eric Berger
- “The Bath School Disaster”. 1927. An angry insane school board member blew up a school and killed 45 people – mostly children. His farm had been foreclosed on for back taxes. The taxes were used to build the school.
- Houston Chronicle. “Survivor recalls 1959 school blast that killed six”
- “Poe school coverage details the tragedy”. About the man (kind to animals, beat his wife, talked to God?) and that day.