I met Santa Claus today.Â No, it wasnâ€™t Christmas Eve, and no, he wasnâ€™t wearing a red suit, but Iâ€™m pretty sure it was him.Â He was wearing a red sweater, but it was tucked inside a brown leather jacket and his long, flowing silver hair escaped from under a black felt cowboy hat.Â Does Santa travel incognito?Â He did have the regulation white beard and the sparkling blue eyes…
It was a Christmas event, after all.Â The boys and I were at city hall for the annual tree lighting event, but our dog noticed him first.Â Sheâ€™s been with us fourteen years now, long enough to be a member of our family â€“ longer even than the boys.Â Sheâ€™s a good dog, always willing to accept a pat or a scratch from passersby, but this was… different.Â I felt the familiar tug on the leash as she moved forward to greet him, but he didnâ€™t just reach down idly and move on.Â He crouched down to her level and began…
When I finally looked down he had one hand up against her chest at the base of her throat and he was moving his other hand slowly down her back to her tail.Â Over and over, soft, slow, rhythmic movements.Â He hardly appeared to be touching her, as if his hand was just above her fur, but knew where to go all on its own.Â At first, I just glanced down to see, to check on her, and then I stood. And watched.
â€œShe has some stiffness in her hips, but sheâ€™ll be okay.â€ he said.Â He didnâ€™t look up.Â â€œWe went for our long walk yesterday.â€ I replied. â€œSheâ€™s 14 now.â€Â â€œAre you doing Reiki on her?â€ I asked.Â â€œJust a little loving touch.â€ And so I watched him as he went, one hand moving, the other still in place.Â She shifted at first to get closer to him, and then she sat.Â Then she leaned into him and laid her head along his arm, closed her eyes.Â Such complete and utter bliss radiated out from her, from her entire canine soul.Â Donâ€™t get me started on whether or not dogs have souls.Â Live with one for a while and youâ€™ll no longer question the idea.Â Finally, she lay down completely, stretched out on the concrete, and still he went on.Â Dog heaven must be like this.Â I found myself wondering what it would be like to be her in that moment, to have someone hold me like that, even for a while.
I donâ€™t know how long we were there, how many minutes ticked by.Â It was as if we stood in a little circle, separated from the crowds around us, outside of time.Â Silly I know, but maybe Christmas has magic after all.Â Finally he stood and she jumped up as well, as spry as a puppy.
â€œSugar!â€ â€œHer nameâ€™s Sugar!â€ I called out as he walked away into the crowd… it was the best â€˜thank youâ€™ we could give.
Mike Nelson Pedde