Jolly ol’ elf brightens Christmas countdown

Part of the joy of Christmas is the waiting. It’s the time at night when a pile of wrapped gifts sits under a sparkly Christmas tree. It’s the stolen taste of cookie dough before the cookies are baked. And it’s the writing of the letter to Santa as much as it’s his momentous visit on Christmas Eve.

I got to relive one of those moments this morning when I arrived for breakfast at the hotel where we stayed last night to avoid driving through the snowstorm that hit Madison, Wis., yesterday. There, sitting at one of the breakfast tables was an old man with a white beard and a twinkle in his eye. He was wearing green knickers and red suspenders.

See, Santa has to fuel up for a long day of hearing Christmas wishes, and he chose our breakfast venue.

I felt like I did when I ran into Emeril Lagasse in the hotel hallway earlier this year — like I was in the presence of celebrity.

This time, I had the courage to ask for a photo (no, a woman who’s taller than Santa doesn’t ask to sit on his lap).

Getting a picture of Santa felt a little like getting a photo of Bigfoot. “See! Proof he exists!”

He laughed “ho, ho, ho” as he walked out of the dining room.

What a gift.

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