Santa Claus is coming to town …

ASHEBORO — Whether we are one of the early-birds who enjoy decorating for the holidays at 12:01 a.m. on November 1 or the more subtle Charlie Brown Christmas tree in the corner type folks, one name with which we are all familiar this time of year is of that jolly round fellow — good ole’ Saint Nick. There has been some doubt surrounding the existence of this plump, rosy-cheeked elf and whether or not he can be written off as a child’s imagination or an urban legend but take it from me — Santa is real and I have seen his spirit myself. There is a story circulating the typical social media sources and I would like to share a brief and summarized version with you. 

“I remember riding my bike to Grandma’s the day my big sister dropped the bomb proclaiming that “Santa wasn’t real.” I rode my bike furiously to my Grandma’s because I knew she of all people would be honest with me. With the comfort of one of her world-famous cinnamon buns I told her the news. “No Santa Claus!” she snorted. “Ridiculous! Don’t believe it. That rumor has been going around for years and it makes me mad, plain mad. Now, put on your coat, and let’s go.” 

We pulled up to Kerby’s General Store and my Grandma handed me $10. “Take this money,” she said, “and buy something for someone who needs it. I’ll wait for you in the car.” She turned around and left my 8 year old self in there all alone. I had never shopped all by myself before! The store was filled with people rushing around trying to finish last minute Christmas shopping. I clutched that ten dollar bill, racking my brain, trying to figure what to buy and who on Earth to buy it for. I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, and the people at church. I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair and he sat right behind me in class. Bobby Decker didn’t have a coat. I knew that because he never went out for recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all the kids knew that Bobby Decker didn’t have a cough …. he didn’t have a coat. 

Excitement inside of me grew as I sifted through the aisles to pick Bobby Decker the perfect coat. I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked really warm and I thought he would like that. “Is this a Christmas present?” the lady behind the counter asked as I laid my $10 down. “Yes,” I replied shyly, “It’s… for Bobby Decker.” The nice lady smiled at me and wished me a Merry Christmas. 

That evening Grandma helped me wrap the coat in Christmas paper and ribbons. We wrote, “To: Bobby, From: Santa Claus.” Santa always insisted on secrecy, my Grandma told me. In the process, the price tag fell off and Grandma just tucked it in her Bible. 

Afterwards, my Grandma drove me to Bobby Decker’s house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially one of Santa’s helpers. We parked down the street and crept to the bushes in front of the walk. She nudged me and I dashed to the front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his doorbell and flew back to the safety of the bushes with Grandma.

Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally, it did and there stood Bobby. 

Fifty years haven’t dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker’s bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma had said they were: ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team. I still have Grandma’s Bible, with the price tag tucked inside: $19.95.”

Although I am unsure of the author and quite unsure of the origin story to this piece, I am sure of one thing – that Grandma was a highly prized elf at the North Pole and I aspire to live up to her spirit of Christmas. 

With that thought in mind, Randolph County 4-H and Family and Consumer Sciences created the first annual Blanket in a Box Party to encourage all of Santa’s teammates to come together and join us in a virtual evening of Christmas cheer, all the while creating a blanket to donate back to Brenner Children’s Hospital. As always, we had high hopes for this event but the amount of interest has completely blown us away. In less than 24 hours, we reached our maximum amount of participants able to receive the materials free of charge. When I say we were excited — I mean our hearts were pounding much like those characters in the story whilst crouched behind a bush. With that being said, we still want to encourage those that would like to participate to join us on December 7 for a virtual blanket making demonstration and Christmas party. The supplies you need are: 1 yard of solid fleece fabric; 1 yard of patterned fleece fabric; Scissors; Ruler; Some yummy treats to celebrate.

All blanket drop-offs can be made to the Randolph County Cooperative Extension office at 1003 S. Fayetteville Street in Asheboro prior to December 17th. All ages are welcome to participate. 

If nothing else, I hope this story has touched you and inspired you to share the Christmas spirit, much like it inspired me to host this event. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from someone on Santa Claus’ team!

McKenna Gardener is a 4-H Program Assistant at the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Randolph County Center

By McKenna Gardener

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