My uncle, Chris Evans, is 6-foot-3, and is, well, not a thin man.
Weighing in at 250-plus pounds, with a full head of white hair and matching beard, he is occasionally mistaken for a certain red-suited fellow this time of year.
He emailed friends and family a feel-good story recently, about an encounter he had with a little girl as he walked out of his place of business, Philadelphia City Hall. He'd not been having the best of days, reflecting on life's low points, and then he met Eliza.
From my family to yours, Merry Christmas!
Chris' story, in his own words, originally published in the Glendale News-Press.
An older, heavyset lady, panting after climbing the stairs to the City Hall courtyard from the subway, her young granddaughter in tow, her head swiveling from side to side to get her bearings, stops me to ask directions.
“Could you tell me where Macy's is, something to entertain this child?” she asks between breaths.
“Oh, you mean the light show in the center court?” I reply.
“Yes … exactly,” she gasps, apparently relieved that I know what she means.
“Sure,” I say, “that show's been going on since I was a little boy. It's right across the street through this portal here.”
I'm going that way, so we walk along together. As we stroll along, and Grandma is thanking me, this adorable little girl, all of age 4, as I was later informed, pipes up and says:
“My brother says there is no Santa Claus!”
Grandma says, “Yeah ... he's 7 now, too cool for Santa.”
So I say “Really?!”
That's my cue ... I utter my best “HO-HO-HO,” smile, and simply point to my face.
“What do you think?”
With that, this wonderful little princess gasps an “ooh!” and beams with sheer delight, her eyes ebony jewels, her face the very definition of natural beauty.
“Are you Santa Claus?!” she asks, eager to believe, but not sure what to think.
Grandma says, “You never know. Looks a lot like him.”
And I add, “You ever see me and the big guy in the same place at the same time?”
I tell her that sometimes Santa has to go undercover, just to keep an eye on things. That's one of the ways he knows so much. I ask her name.
“Eliza Somers,” she replies, and begins to spell it out for me.
“No need, Sugar. I got ya, Eliza. You're doin' real good, takin' care of your granny here. I'll see you in a couple of weeks, but you'll be sleepin'.”
My seas have been rough lately, so the timing could not possibly be better for the lighthouse smile this cherub shone upon me as I crossed the street, waving goodbye.
She has no idea of how grateful I am for this little encounter, no clue as to how important, how profound, how uplifting that was for me, and maybe that's the way it was supposed to be.
God bless you, Eliza, and merry Christmas to you too, Grandma.