Santa Says Give Your Children Squeeze Hugs


It was one of those cold, grey December days that makes me happy that I work from home. Ordinarily, it would have been a day when I made myself a hot cup of coffee or cocoa and snuggled under the covers with a good book or magazine. But, not on this particular day. This was a day when I had to get up and out, cold or not, and buy a gift that I needed to get in the mail if there was any hope of it arriving at its destination before Christmas. The things we do for love.
Getting dressed in the winter is a pain, and the older I get the worse I hate it. To stay warm, you must layer. So there is the long underwear, then the regular clothes, then the sweater on top of that then a scarf and coat and hat and gloves. I drag my bundled up self out to sit in a cold car. I wait a few minutes and then drive slow until the car warms up.
I buy my present, but while I am in the mall, I decide to go to the Hallmark store for more Christmas cards. I walk the length of the mall, get to where the store once was only to discover that it is no longer there. So, I drag my layered self the length of the mall again. I tell myself with every weary step that this is a good for me. I need the exercise. I am way behind on my 10k steps a day. The only good thing is, on my trip back, while I am telling myself that this walk is a good thing, I see Santa. The real North Pole Santa. Not the store helper, the real Santa.
Someday I will tell you the story about the first time I met Santa, the North Pole Santa, but not today. When I pass, he is off the throne talking to a young mother holding a child who seems to be about six-months-old. There are no children in line which is not surprising for mid-day on a week-day. I wave, he smiles and gestures for me to wait.
When he is finished we hug. “What are you doing here?” I ask.
“You know I sometimes visit in person. I like to see for myself how things are going. I’m glad I ran into you because I heard you were not coming north this year.”
I ought to explain that since my children are now adults, I sometimes go to the North Pole to help out. My job is usually to help Santa locate children who have moved. Some years it is a hard thing to do when there have been wars and natural disasters that displace people. This year, I had not planned to go because I am working on a Christmas novel, and I am behind schedule. I did not speak to Santa directly, but I left a message with Mrs. Claus. She understood.
I think part of me was using the book as an excuse not to go because I am just not feeling Christmas this year. I am still suffering serious Trump trauma. I still cannot believe that a vulgar reality show celebrity will be the next president of the United States of America. And worse, when I think I am about to get to a place of equilibrium, I hear the news of one of his cabinet appointees, and the Trump funk returns.
Santa smiled with a twinkle in his eye. “I know you are still getting over the election.”
“Sorry to say that I have not yet recovered.”
“Let’s get some coffee.”
His helper put up the out to lunch sign, and we walked around to the Starbucks. After we ordered our coffees, we talked.
We talked about the perfect storm that hit Hillary Clinton in the final days of the campaign – ACA premium increases, the Comey letter, Trump acting for a minute as if he had some sense. We talked about the Russian hacks of the DNC and the drip, drip, drip of information that no doubt left many Bernie Sanders supporters feeling as if the system were rigged against their man. God only knows how many of them decided they just could not vote for Hillary and went to a third party candidate.
None of the political stuff really concerned Santa. His concern was for the children who were shaken by this election. During the campaign, Hillary ran an ad showing children watching Trump. The question for voters: Is this the role model you want for your children?” But there was something deeper going on.
Children were being harassed by Trump supporters during the campaign at school if they were Latino or Muslim or African-American or different. They heard the chants of “Build the Wall.” Since the election the harassment has not stopped and Trump, who tweets about the most trivial things, has not bothered to address the harassment in any serious way. Children were, and many still are, afraid that their undocumented parents or siblings will be deported. What will happen if the federal government under Trump institutes a Muslim registry? How are girls supposed to feel when a man they heard making awful comments about how he treats women, when women have come forward to say he did what he said he did, is still elected to the highest office in the land? Now that he is president, the voices of the women are silenced as the world moves on to think about what such an erratic person will do with the power that a minority of voters have given him. A MINORITY OF VOTERS.
Women and girls see that you can be the person with the strongest resume, you can study and win every debate, you can win more votes, not by a few thousand, but by nearly three million and still not crack the highest, hardest glass ceiling. I am certain that not a few of the votes for Trump were both women and men who could not wrap their minds around the idea of a female president. Sexism lives. How are we to console our children?
When I put this question to Santa, he said, still with the twinkle in his eye: “Squeeze hugs.”
“What is a squeeze hug?” I asked.
Santa explained that it is a hug that holds the child tight. It helps to calm the child and make him or her feel secure.
“What about children who do not like to be touched?” I asked.
Again, Santa had an answer. He suggested putting them to sleep under heavy blankets. Again it’s the pressure that matters. Hugs are also good for adults. They lower blood pressure, are good for the heart, relieves stress, and alleviates fear. (
When we finished our coffee, we left each other, he back to the throne for the rest of the day before heading back to the North Pole, and me to the car and the rest of my holiday season. But, before we left, he gave me a big warm squeeze hug. We laughed, and I felt better.
Happy Holidays everybody. Hug somebody! (with permission)
Valerie Elverton Dixon is founder of and author of Just Peace Theory Book One: Spiritual Morality, Radical Love, and the Public Conversation.

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