The campground had settled down for the night as Ms. Claus and I roasted marshmallows over an open fire.
“Santa, I love living at the North Pole, but the beauty of the trees, the different wildlife and the blue skies in this area are a feast for the eyes,” Anya began while putting together her s’more. “I am so glad we have the use of this camper. Driving around Virginia has been fantastic.”
I nodded and took a bite out of a s’more. “These things are great,” I mumbled as I wiped the crumbs from my beard. “So, what would you like to do tomorrow?” I asked when finished.
“I thought we’d start with the five-mile hike up to Humpback Rocks.”
“Testing me to see if I’m in shape, aren’t you?”
Ms. Claus giggled. “You’ve been working out, so I thought you would be up for some hiking.”
“We’ll see what tomorrow brings,” I replied with a smile. Then the two of us leaned back to enjoy the fire.
In the morning, Ms. Claus and I had a quick breakfast and packed two lunches. “The hike will be challenging Santa,” Anya warned. “But the view will be spectacular once we reach the summit.”
“You don’t say,” I remarked. “Hope I’m up to the challenge.”
When we arrived at the parking lot, we looked at the map, chose our route, and began the five-mile trudge. Ms. Claus and I took our time huffing and puffing our way to Humpback Rocks. Two hours later, we reached the summit and were overwhelmed by the view.
Anya scampered up the rocks to one of the high points, and I carefully followed. Soon I heard, “Hey look, it’s Santa.” Turning around, I saw a group of young adults waving. “Do you mind if I get a selfie with you,” one of the girls called out. “Me too,” another exclaimed.
Anya stood up and suggested that she take a picture of the entire group with me.
“Too cool.” one of the teens commented. “Must be fun playing Santa.”
“Playing? Who says I’m playing?” I replied and winked.
“Good one,” he laughed. “Where are you from?”
“The North Pole of course,” I replied
“Yeah, right. Gotta admit, you really look like Santa.”
Accepting his phone from Anya, he and his friends waved. “Thanks for the pictures,” the group yelled and scurried onto another outcropping of rocks.
“You’re welcome,” I said and motioned for Anya to meet me on the path.
“Does that bother you when people don’t see you as the real Santa?” Anya remarked while we made our way down the trail.
I tried to make a joke but finally admitted that it did. “When children grow up, they stop believing in me and Christmas magic. That makes me sad.”
The rest of the hike was quiet as we maneuvered over the rocks and roots of the steep path. Reaching the parking lot, I asked my wife to grab our lunch and sat down at a picnic table on a small bluff overlooking low-lying mountains.
Anya nodded and walked towards the back end of the truck.
“I bet you’re Mrs. Claus,” a voice said.
Startled, Anya turned and saw a young girl staring at her. “How did you guess?”
“Well, I wasn’t sure at first because you don’t look anything like Mrs. Claus. Then I saw you talking to Santa on the trail, so I kinda thought you were.”
Anya chuckled. “So how am I supposed to look?” she asked.
“I just thought you’d be bigger and have gray hair, like Santa” The girl dropped her head. “Sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.”
Anya saw how embarrassed the girl was. “Don’t worry. I get that a lot from people who don’t know me. It’s OK. Let’s go over and see Santa,” Anya suggested and grabbed the cooler.
“YESSS.” The girl clapped her hands and spun around. “Thanks Mrs. Claus or is it Ms. Claus?”
“The elves call me Ms. Claus,” Anya explained, “so you can too.”
I had been watching my wife and the little girl talking with one another. When they approached the table, I knew who she was. “Well if it isn’t Carrie Walling from Virginia.”
“Santa, I knew you’d remember me,” she cried and rushed over to sit on the bench next to me.
“How are you doing young lady?” I asked and gave her a hug. “If I remember, in your letter to me, you were pretty worried about your mom.”
The girl nodded. “It took a while, but Mom finally got better.”
While the three of us talked about Carrie’s family and what she wanted for Christmas, I noticed a blonde-haired woman in hiking boots make her way toward us. “Carrie,” she cried, “how many times have I warned you about wandering away and pestering people.”
“But Mom, it’s Santa. He doesn’t mind.”
“Young lady, how do you know this is Santa?” the woman chuckled. “Sorry, but there isn’t a person my daughter won’t talk to wherever we go.”
“Mom, you always said that I’d know Santa when I saw him, and I….”
“Yes, but what I meant was…”
“NO! He’s the real deal.”
“Ms. Claus and I are glad to hear you’re feeling better now. Carrie was really worried.”
Mrs. Walling gave me a strange look as I took out four Santa stickers. I gave one to Carrie and handed the other three to her mom. “These are for you, your husband Frank, and your son Tommy,” I explained and pointed to a little boy nestled in his dad’s backpack.
“But… Ah… How did you…?”
“Told you Mom.” Carrie reached over and gave me a hug. Then she slipped her arms around Anya. “Thanks Ms. Claus. Even if you don’t look like what I thought Mrs. Claus should look like, I think you’re great.”
After the two left, Anya looked at me. “Feeling a little happier now.”
“Leave it up to children to make the day brighter,” I answered giving my wife a huge hug.
Notes From Santa
I hope you enjoyed today’s story. Stories are posted on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month, except December. Santa’s next story will be posted on Saturday September 2, 2023. 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 the next time . . .
To read more about the adventures of Santa & Ms. Claus, please check out
Santa’s Waterpark Adventure – September 9, 2019
Santa and Ms. Claus Go On Vacation – September 16, 2019
Stories From Santa & Ms. Claus on Vacation (Part 1) – September 23, 2019
Stories From Santa & Ms. Claus on Vacation (Part 2) – September 30, 2029
Stories From Santa & Ms. Claus on Vacation (Part 3) – October 7, 2019
Amusement Park Adventure – July 27, 2020
The Adventure Begins – July 5, 2021
Jack and Addie – August 9, 2021
Visiting Korvatunturi Mountain – February 15, 2022
Paradise Island – September 1, 2022
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