There is something about sipping eggnog with good friends, waving from a parade float to friends and family along the route, and visiting the homes of your neighbors during a holiday home tour. I especially love activities that surround children - like the annual pajama party at the Winona Library and making handprint Santa Claus ornaments at the Gee Store in Carrollton.
Monday night, the Winona Times and The Conservative hosted its annual Cookies with Santa at the Winona Community House. Hundreds of children - yes, hundreds - stopped by for a meet and greet with Santa, have a cookie or two, make their own Rudolph tree ornament, and participate in our coloring contest.
For several years, we have hosted this community event, and each and every year, it gets bigger and better. This year was our most successful event yet, and Santa was very pleased at how many boys and girls from this community came to visit him.
My son, Dean, got to meet Santa for the very first time. When Santa propped Dean on his knee, the child stared at the jolly old elf with wide-eyed awe. Then he grabbed a fist full of Santa's beard in his chubby fist and began chewing on it.
Santa wasn't offended, but Dean did manage to take a fist full of beard with him. Poor Santa.
We all need to say a little prayer for Santa this holiday season. As children visit him in town or in the mall or church, he really does put up with a lot -- crying babies, kicking-and-screaming-frightened kids, too-big kids propping on his knee, new parents snapping a hundred photos.
Santa has a big job with so many expectations. So remember to thank Santa when you see him around this month. Santa always keeps a smile on his face and a chuckle of good cheer, all while wearing a ridiculously hot suit in a Mississippi winter.