When Santa Came to Town: My Christmas Miracle

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By Mike DuBose

What I am about to tell you stuns most adults, especially my professional colleagues: I have seen Santa Claus!

I am the president of four companies, including Research Associates, which focuses on research in communities, businesses, and organizations. We basically examine problems and ways to solve them. I have also completed a good bit of graduate study in psychology. Consequently, solid logic, reasonable explanations, and understanding human behavior are very important to me, both personally and professionally.

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to comprehend what really happened the night that I saw Old Saint Nick. When I share my experience with others, they provide all types of explanations for how I “perceived” that I saw him, and one of my friends went so far as to call it a “hallucination.” Most others just assume that I was dreaming. Santa Claus, while very real in the eyes of children, becomes almost nonexistent in the adult world—but what I saw that night remains crystal clear in my memory, fifty-plus years later.

Every year in December, I think back to that time in 1959 when Santa Claus visited me. I was nine years old and living in Darlington, S.C., a rural community that most folks know as the home of the Southern 500 car race or “on the way to the beach.” My grandparents lived in nearby Lamar, S.C., and on the day of Christmas Eve, we went to visit them and enjoy some of my grandmother’s good old fashioned cooking. She used fatback and all those good things that made food taste really great but were like putting tacks in your coffin!

My grandmother was the matriarch of the family and pretty much held us together. My excitement over Christmas grew as we entered her home and saw all of our relatives. It was the time of year when the whole family gathered, even though some of them disliked each other, to share a meal. My siblings and I played games with the other children, everyone ate, and we all exchanged presents. Then, we shot off some firecrackers, an annual event that my father popularized with us.

On the way home, we eagerly anticipated the coming of Christmas and the gifts we would receive. The adrenalin pumped into my body as we turned into our driveway. Within the hour I would go to sleep, and the next time I awoke it would be to presents galore!

I convinced my mother to let me skip my bath and jumped into the clean sheets, although you could see the smile on her face as she caught the lingering scent of fireworks (and a little turkey). As I laid in bed, all kinds of things were going through my head: a little fear from hearing the wind outside brush the azaleas against the window, anticipation of the night approaching, and thoughts of what I was about to receive the next morning.

But my current task was to calm down so I could go to sleep. I thought about the disappointment I had felt when a friend told me that there wasn’t a Santa Claus and my frustration when my mother confirmed the bad news. I went to sleep with the knowledge that Santa didn’t exist—“Santa” had been my parents all along. As I drifted off, I said a little prayer that my parents had taught me: “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

I slept in a large room by myself. At about 3 a.m., a loud sound from the next room roused me from my dreams. It sounded like paper tearing, and I thought to myself that my parents must be wrapping my presents. I sat up in bed, very alert and attentive, waiting for my parents to go back to sleep so I could spring into action. I was thinking about the gifts I was about to receive when an eerie feeling settled over the room. It was almost like the quiet before a storm. I was just about to get out of bed when the sliding door to my bedroom opened. I figured that it would be my mother coming to check on me, but to my absolute amazement, someone else walked in.

There he was….Santa Claus! Just like the one I had read about and had seen at the end of the Christmas parade. This had to be a fake, though, because I had been told that there wasn’t a Santa Claus. With my eyes wide open, and with him about 30 feet away, I could see him in the dim glow from my nightlight. Then, he went over to my television and cut the 60 watt light on, which illuminated the whole room so I could see really well. I played like I was asleep but kept my eyes open a crack to study this figure, beginning with his white hair and perfectly-fitting uniform. I searched every aspect of his appearance for defects, but there were none to be seen. After turning on the lights, he made his way over to me. I trembled with fear—or was it shock, or excitement? I’m not sure, but what I was seeing was a pretty realistic Santa Claus. I thought, “This must be someone my parents hired, or maybe one of them dressed up, but this sure is a good show!”

He made his way over to my bed as I peeked at him through my nearly-closed eyelids. I hadn’t had time to cover myself up when he entered the room, and he smiled as he pulled the blankets over me. The warmth that this person projected could only have come from someone who truly cared about me, like a loving parent—it went far beyond what a hired actor could perform. He knew where everything was in my room, as if he was a member of the household, yet my observations confirmed that this wasn’t any relative of mine. I noticed that his white hair was real, too…not a wig!

I followed him with my eyes as he exited the room, pulling the sliding door closed. I jumped up in bed and asked myself, “What was THAT?” I’m not sure what emotions were occurring inside of me, but I was 110% awake and my blood pressure was off the meter. I wanted to jump out of bed and run outside but was too scared of what I might find, so I sat there for a moment in total quietness, not knowing what to do.

Then, to my astonishment, I heard someone walking around on top of my one-story house. (We didn’t have insulation back then, so the sound quality was excellent.) Then, to my further shock, I heard little tapping noises that sounded like…..well, deer on the roof. And there weren’t just one or two! It was a good crowd of them up there. No, I didn’t count nine like in the story, nor did I hear anything about Rudolf, but there was something on my roof that wasn’t usually there. As the footsteps on the roof moved towards the hoof sounds, the tapping quickened. They were getting excited, just like my dog did when I approached her.

Then, I heard laughter and the tapping began to move forward. I felt as though I was under a stagecoach and there was a herd of the horses over me. But this was no stagecoach. This was Christmas, and that person on the roof was Santa Claus with his reindeer! I could hear the reindeer pulling the sled, but slowly the sound of tapping disappeared, as if they were flying from my roof two by two into the air. The last sound I heard was the sled dragging across my roof. That would have been a real feat to reproduce!

I shot out into the yard and saw only the quiet beauty of God’s universe and the stillness that comes in the pre-dawn hours. The sky was perfectly clear. I ran around the house, anticipating that I would find my grinning relatives up to no good, but saw no one. I examined the neighbors’ roofs, looking for a jolly old man in red…no one. (And no, I didn’t hear any “Ho! Ho! Ho!”)

My heart was racing, and goose bumps were jumping up all over the place. I couldn’t explain what had just happened, but I knew one thing: I had just seen Santa Claus! I stood awestruck in the cold for another 30 minutes, hoping to catch another glimpse, but saw nothing.

I returned to the house and peeped in, not knowing what to expect. The presents lay there unwrapped. All of the paper that I had heard tearing earlier was nowhere to be found. I checked my parents’ bedroom, and they were fast asleep. I no longer cared about my presents—what I had just experienced was a gift from God!

I didn’t tell anyone what I saw that night, nor did my parents say anything about it the next day. Surely, if they had planned this magnificent event, they would have brought it to light the next day.

When I asked them about the incident years later, they swore they never planned it. All of those minute details combined would have been difficult, if not nearly impossible, for them to replicate themselves: the perfectly-dressed Santa, the tapping reindeer hooves, the sled dragging and leaving the roof, and the quiet house when I came back inside.

Even now, questions abound. Did I see Santa Claus, that old jolly fellow dressed in red? Yes! Do I believe in Santa Claus? Yes! Can I give a logical explanation for that night? Absolutely NOT! Did God send an angel to visit me that wonderful Christmas Eve? I’m not sure. The one thing I do know is that it happened!

Santa has never visited me since, but I will cherish that one night—the greatest Christmas Eve of all—until my grave. At 63 years old, I can still see him vividly and hear the hoof taps in my mind. I am one of the lucky few who have seen Santa, and it’s a wonderful Christmas story. But I am not alone. Other people living in other parts of the world have told me the exact same story as it happened to them!

I now realize that my exciting visit was a gift from God. Christmas is the celebration of an event that happened over 2,000 years ago. It is sometimes difficult to understand, and just like my Santa story, it can be difficult to accept. But for those of us with faith, it is something we believe in with all our hearts. It is a time of the year when we should be thankful for what we have, forget about what we don’t, and forgive those who have wronged us. As we prepare to enter another year, we should all resolve to display the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, control, goodness, and kindness—and maybe to have a little more faith in miracles.

Merry Christmas, everyone, and may your 2014 be filled with happiness!

Mike DuBose has been in business since 1981, authored The Art of Building a Great Business, and is a field instructor with USC’s graduate school. He is the owner of three debt-free corporations, including Columbia Conference Center, Research Associates, and The Evaluation Group, and co-owner of DuBose Web Group with his son Blake and DuBose Fitness Center with his son Joel. Visit his nonprofit website www.mikedubose.com for more business, travel, and personal articles or to e-mail Mike.

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