a breakfast serial

One bite-sized story every morning to uplift, motivate, or provoke thought.

Archive for December 9, 2012

santa stories (sunday setup 12/9/12)

< by Jill >

As snowflakes drape Minnesota in snow, raindrops paint Chicago in a deeper shade of brown. Water soaks all the buildings and sidewalks, creating a mottled earth-tone palette with nary a pop of color. Only one night earlier, the 45-degree weather supplied the perfect environment for a stroll around the Lincoln Park Zoo, which transforms into a fully illuminated holiday theme park precisely at sundown.

For more than an hour, Nate and I wandered through canopies of lighted trees. We posed for photographs with penguin statues and life-size snow globes, peering into exhibits now and then to see if any of the real animals lurked in our midst. At the big cat exhibit, we caught a bengal tiger slumbering deeply, despite the pounding of little fists from children at our knees. To complete the experience, we stopped in the adjoining building to catch a glimpse of Santa.

Inside, a quintessential crew of disillusioned, bossy elves herded a line of parents and children toward the big man in red. After a big of jostling, I spotted him and thought that’s a pretty good Santa. I think you know what I mean: A good santa is a naturally rotund guy with a real beard and rectangular spectacles — no shiny ringlet beard, no dopey pillow-stuffed belly, and certainly no plastic Ray-Bans.

I was happy to see that a real Santa occupied the throne. This week, you’ll read more stories on the topic of Santa — what his handwriting looks like, the kinds of cookies he favors, and how he evokes feelings of cheer, confusion, and sometimes terror. I leave you with a picture of my niece Cora, who experienced the latter: