Two days ago, I picked up a vehicle to drive from Houston, Texas out to Pomona, California. It was a bright red Lincoln Navigator, and it was going to a Mr. Lowman. He had to have the car by Christmas Eve, and I was watching out for patches of bad weather as I drove west.
Just as I crossed the California state line, my cell phone rang. "This is Bill."
"Bill Thomas, you fat-headed little elf." It was my boss, Riff, and it sounded like he had been drinking again.
"Been dipping into the egg nog, Riff?"
"Egg nog is for sissies. I just drink the bourbon raw."
"You heard me. You gonna get that big old SUV to Mr. Lowman in Pomona on time?"
"Yes sir, I should be there in a couple of hours."
"Good. He has already called me three times today stressing how important it is that he gets it."
"He'll have it, don't worry about it. Have a Merry Christmas, Riff." I hung up, and then popped in my George Strait Christmas CD. I sang along, feeling the spirit of the season in my heart.
When I arrived at the mall in Pomona, I drove around until I found the back loading dock that Mr. Lowman had specified. I parked, and then saw Santa Claus walking towards me. Well, it was a "mall Santa", those who sit for hours and put kids on their knees to hear what they want for Christmas. This Santa was carrying a guitar over his shoulder. "Hello, Bill," he said to me.
"Jim Lowman, nice to meet you." He stuck out his hand to shake with me.
As I shook his hand, I said "You're Mr. Lowman. My boss didn't tell me you'd be dressed as Santa Claus."
"I always dress this way at this time of year. I have a little gift just for you." And with that, he began playing his guitar. He sang one of my favorite George Strait songs called THE CHAIR. When he finished, I applauded him.
"That was great. George Strait is my favorite singer."
He smiled and nodded. "I had a feeling. Well Bill, have you been naughty or nice this year?"
"I've tried to be good."
"Glad to hear it. There is too much bad in the world these days, we need more good."
"So how do you get home from here?"
"I don't have any plans for Christmas. My home is Birmingham, but its not very likely that I'm going to get a car today headed all the way back there."
"It's good to be home for Christmas. With family."
"I don't have a family. My immediate family are all gone."
He put his hand on my shoulder. "I'm sorry to hear that. But be of good cheer, this time of year anything is possible."
"Um... OK, well if you can just sign here then the car is all yours."
He looked over the paperwork and began to sign. "Thanks for bringing a gift for Santa."
"You bet. You know, I never thought about it, but Santa brings presents to kids all over the world, but no one gets a gift for Santa."
"You know what, Bill? I think the fact that you try to help people wherever you go is a wonderful thing. Working in a soup kitchen, giving homeless people a room for a night, leaving bonus cash you earned for a friend. Helping out others is the best gift you could ever give to Santa." He handed me back the paperwork.
I was a bit dazed. How did he know all of this stuff about me? "Mr. Lowman, I--"
He interrupted by handing me a sealed envelope. "Here's a little Christmas thank you for getting me my ride so promptly. I have to get going, got a busy night of work ahead. God bless you, Bill." He jumped into his shiny red Lincoln with surprising agility, and then yelled "Ho, ho, ho!" The sun was just about to set, and he drove into it so I had to squint. I know my eyes were playing tricks on me, but for a second it looked like his car was lifting up off of the ground. And then I lost sight of it completely.
I opened the envelope he had given me and found a one way plane ticket back to Birmingham. I had the sudden feeling that I was experiencing my own little Christmas miracle. And a very Merry Christmas to you all!