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Santa appearing in a public fashion, sitting on a mall bench doodling with his cell phone, pumping gas at the local crowded service station down the street or in this case, shopping at the boat supply store for Christmas parade supplies, always seems to create a new holiday adventure. Last year’s Santa encounter proves that even a quick stop at the store can turn into a fun story of Christmas goodwill.

It was a beautiful Saturday morning in Newport Beach, California. I was driving home from a wonderful Christmas gathering. My big lap and the little wooden chair next to me were the happy targets for at least two hundred excited kids and their patient moms and dads. They had come to the beach to attend a fun holiday event. Old Santa was there for a Christmas meet and greet.

Santa Needs a Boat Radio

Ava and Carlos Schott dressed for Christmas

On the way my thoughts turned to the next Santa adventure of the year, the traditional and famous Newport Harbor Christmas Holiday Lights Boat Parade. It was coming up in a few days! Always a participant and in need of a new boat radio for Santa’s Christmas barge, I turned into a local shopping center to make a quick dash through the Marine Supply Store. I was thinking that at least a few hours would be saved by not driving all the way home to the North Pole to change clothes and all the way back again!

Selfies with Santa

Running into the store and jingling all the way, I asked the surprised clerk at the front cashier station where the radios were located. He asked if we could first take a selfie together. He then pointed to the very back of the quite large store, filled with everything a pirate, a captain or a seafaring Santa may need for a trip around the harbor or a lengthy ocean voyage.

I adjusted my large black belt and began my journey to the far end of the warehouse, passing aisle after aisle of wonderful items for the avid yachtsman. Halfway there I heard a distant friendly call, echoing in my direction. A gentleman and his wife were shopping at the far end of the side aisle. As he saw me pass, a good one hundred feet away, he yelled out, “Hey, Santa Clause!” I returned a happy wave along with a quick “Ho Ho!” but did not miss a stride as I continued on my quest for that much needed boat radio. On my return trip to the cashier, radio safely under my arm, I did not see the couple again. The building was large, the aisles long, and the customers few at that time of day.

Paying Santa Back

Being the only one in line I was quickly helped by the same wide eyed young man at the register who requested a second selfie and promptly rung me up to the tune of $110.00 plus tax. Just as he tucked my new prized possession in the paper bag and handed it to me we heard a loud and excited voice shouting out, “Hang on! Hold on there!”

I turned to see my fellow customer and soon to be friend, who had greeted me with the “Hey, Santa Clause!” ten minutes earlier, rushing up and frantically waving his credit card in the air! He joyfully announced, “Santa, Santa, I got this!” Then he let the confused clerk know, “I’ll pay for everything he’s buying, here’s my card, charge it to me!” I didn’t know what to say. Standing there with my purchase and receipt already in hand I spurted out, “Gee that’s wonderful, how gracious of you, but I already paid!” He shouted again, now looking at the young man and waving his arms like a referee calling a runner safe at home base, “No, no, no! Cancel the sale and give Santa a refund! I’m paying for this!” He was most insistent!

Merry Christmas to You Santa!

Then he turned to me and asked, “Santa, is there anything else you need? Are you sure that’s all? Please help yourself! It’s on me!” I let him know that my new radio was all that I had come for and as I thanked him again, I gave him a firm handshake and a hearty and very grateful Santa hug. Although I did not ask why he felt it so important to commit this act of kindness, he let me know as I gave him the big thank you hug. He said, now in a softer and more serious tone, “You know, Santa was always great to me when I was a kid. I remember getting almost everything I asked for at Christmas! It was always my favorite time of year and I loved Santa Clause. He was the man! Today, right now, I saw the opportunity and just felt it was time to pay you back a little bit for all those good memories! Merry Christmas to you Santa!”

The amazed clerk promptly gave me a refund and took the kind stranger’s payment. In these days and times where life can be a bit harsh and we long for the feelings and memories of yesteryear, it’s comforting to know that kindness is still in the hearts of many. Warm thoughts of long ago and gestures of happiness can still be found in the Christmas spirit that lives deep down in all of us.
Merry, Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

-Carlos Schott
Manager – Storage West Irvine

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