When I received my annual visit from St. Nicholas at IHOP after the Roamin Angels’ Friday breakfast, he was his right jolly old self. I was a little surprised, since when we had talked last year, he had seemed a little depressed, even neglecting personal hygiene. He’d looked like a peddler with his clothes all tarnished with ashes and soot. But now his cheeks were all rosy and his dimples, how merry.
“So what gives, Santa?” I asked, taking a sip of my sixth cup of coffee. I’d been there since six that morning.
“Why so jolly?”
His eyes twinkled.
“I have great hope for the Roamin Angel Toy Drive this year on Dec. 7th. It’s going to be in the K-Mart parking lot on McKnight, so people can get in more easily to give new, unwrapped toys for the children who need them this year,” Santa said.
“That’s not all, is it?” I’m a news-hound, so I knew there was more to the story.
His belly shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly.
“You betcha. There are going to be so many things going on that people will come for the fun of it,” he said.
“Well, I’m going to arrive in a fire truck. Roamin Angels will have their great hot rods and classic cars there for people to see. Then I’m going to be there for the kiddies to tell me what they want for Christmas and get a candy cane.”
I rolled my eyes. “You’ve been doing that for years.”
Santa’s droll little mouth drew up like a bow.
“There will also be a balloon artist to make animals for the kiddies and an airbrush tattooist.”
He gave a soft whistle. “Those tattoos are fun but aren’t permanent.”
“Okay, but anything for the adults who are kids at heart?”
With a nod of his head, he continued.
“There will be a great raffle as well as free donuts, popcorn, BBQ hot dogs, water, coffee and hot chocolate. But we do hope people will give a donation to help the cause.”
He sipped his own cup of hot cocoa as the vapor encircled his head like a wreath. “Mmm, that’s good.”
“What time does it start?”
“The Boy Scouts and the Veterans Honor Guard will raise the flag at 9 in the morning. I’ll arrive about 9:45, and the Roamin Angels will be there until about 2 in the afternoon.”
He stroked his beard, white as the snow.
“I hope everyone will stop by to see me, bring an unwrapped toy for a needy child and enjoy the festivities.”
“How do you know all the toys are going to needy children?”
Laying a finger aside his nose, he said, “Santa knows! And all the toys and donations will go through the Salvation Army to make sure they go to local families who can really use them.”
“Well, where are you going after the toy drive?”
“I’m going to take a few of those hot rods for a spin,” Santa gave me a wink of his eye and a twist of his head.
“I may be a little old driver, but I’m lively and quick.”
Written by Ron Cherry, with a nod to Clement Moore. For more of his writing, go to www.rlcherry.com. For information about the Roamin Angels Car Club, go to http://roaminangels.com, call 432-8449, write to Roamin Angels, PO Box 1616, Grass Valley, CA 95945, or just stop by IHOP on Taylorville Road some Friday at 6:30 a.m. for breakfast.