Ms. Claus and I visited Big Bone Lick Historical Site in Kentucky recently. The park was opening new displays that day and when we arrived, we found many people waiting for the dedication of the new exhibits in the visitor center. Under the shade of tents, volunteers stood ready to explain all the bones and other objects on display on the tables. One of the tents had been set up with tables and chairs for the visitors to enjoy drinks and snacks.
“After the long trip down here,” Anya said as we walked towards the tents holding hands, “I could use something to drink.”
“That sounds like a great idea.”
As we came around the corner and could see the guests sitting at some tables, I stopped and tightened my grip on Anya’s hand. “Look, that’s Addie and Jack, with their mom and grandma.”
“We see children all the time when making trips like this.” Anya shook my hand in hers and continued, “I doubt they recognize us dressed in casual clothes.”
“I’m not so sure. As a favor to their Gimmie, the name they have for their grandma, I have visited them the last three years at their house. I remember Fratzkel, the Scout Elf that visits them each year, saying how they are always telling their friends about me.”
“Well we could just go inside the visitor center and skip the drink.”
Brushing my beard with my hand I decided, “You know you’re right. It’s not that we have never been spotted before. I think we should just be pro-active and see where it goes.” I put my arm around Anya’s shoulder and started walking towards Jack and Addie.
When we reached the table where the children sat, enjoying some cookies and juice box, I said, “Jack, Addie, I can’t believe you are here.” Sitting down at the table with them, I continued, “Ms. Claus and I enjoy the history of the park as well as all the trees and beautiful flowers they have here. What brings you out today?”
Addie looked up and upon seeing me began grinning from ear to ear and said, “Mom and Gimmie wanted to see the new exhibits in the visitor center. But we wanted to see the bison.”
“We like seeing the bison too. After the ceremony, maybe we can all walk down to the bison pen together.”
With excitement in their voices, they both responded, “Thank you Santa.”
“We’re going to get something to drink and go inside now. Come find us after the dedication, and we will visit the bison.”
We all waved to each other, and Anya and I picked up a bottle of water, and headed to the visitor center.
When we walked into the visitor center, I saw Gimmie, looking at the replica of a Harlan Ground Sloth. The sloth lived at Big Bone over 10,000 years ago, stood about 6 feet tall and weighed around 3,500 pounds. I walked over to her and said, “I saw Jack and Addie outside and hope that them seeing me, in the middle of Summer, did not ruin anything for them.”
With a big smile on her face, Gimmie said, “You don’t have anything to worry about. They think you are part of our family!”
My worry faded away for good when Jack and Addie came up to me during the dedication of the exhibits and Jack whispered, “Santa, they have stuffed snakes in the gift shop that we want, but mom told us we can’t have them.”
Addie stepping in front of Jack, asked, “Do you think you could bring them to us for Christmas?”
“Well I suppose I could see if the elves can make them for you. I’ll check into it when I get back to the North Pole.”
They threw their arms around me, squeezed tightly, then ran away smiling.
I turned to Anya and gave her a big hug and told her, “I don’t think we have to worry about anyone recognizing us anymore when we visit during the Summer. It would seem that children are not bothered seeing us outside of the Christmas season. They seem to think it is normal.
Note from Santa: I hope you enjoyed today’s story. I will post another one next Monday. If you have any comments or if there is something you would like me to tell you about, please feel free to leave me a comment. Until next week . . .
Illustration by FireMane Studio