2021 November 30

We had a 9 o’clock meeting with the apartment manager for recertification. I don’t know if this will impact the $357 monthly raise on rent of which we were previously quoted. I hope so. As soon as that meeting was over, we hightailed it toward work.

Santa had a two year old who wasn’t afraid exactly, but he was apprehensive about sitting on Santa’s lap. We had him sit beside me for photos. At the end, I asked for a fist bump. We got the fist bump and a smile at last. I’m glad the photographer (Ella) was paying attention.

Santa also had a youngster who was throwing a tantrum as mom sat him on my lap. I opened a picture book. He looked and smiled. Ella snapped the photo and a second later, he was back at tantrum level. For a matter of seconds we captured a wonderful photo.

Identities concealed on purpose.

Oliver a three-year-old was Santa’s first visit. While the camera was being set up, we visited, when it was time for the photo, he didn’t want to sit. Mom and dad got in the photo also.

There was a little girl named Olivia who was almost hyperactive who was difficult to get a picture with.

Later there was a little boy who was also very active, looking at the tree and the chair and everything but the camera. We got a photo of him standing on the chair talking with Santa.

Later there was a little girl that Santa tried to get interested in a book. But until mom sat on the floor in front of the chair, she wouldn’t come close. Mom got her on her lap to look at a book. Santa slid down from the chair and sat on the floor with them. It was a great photo.

Though it was a little rushed, we made it from work to the church charge conference and potluck. It was an hour from the time Santa left his chair until Tom and Ella were at their place in the church.

2021 November 29

This morning I drove through town rather than take the toll road. I was surprised that it took no longer to get here. I don’t know if the through town traffic is normally this light.
My first visit today was with two girls, the older of which was on the autism spectrum. She had lots of questions and wanted to feel my skin to see if it felt like hers. She decided it didn’t feel like hers but it felt like Mom’s.
I was also visited by Sophie, a tiny two-and-a-half-year-old who came running to hug Santa.
Two seasoned citizens came and sat on Santa’s lap but didn’t want to pay for a photo. They did take a selfie.
A special-needs man of 40-ish saw me and came in to talk. He’s going to get an online visit from Santa on Wednesday. (not me). He was very animated.
Today was slow we saw some photo sales between 11 and 12 but only one or two from noon to 3. And that’s kind of the way the afternoon went.

We came out out the Malik just as the sun was setting.
Supper at IHOP. I told Ella we can’t keep eating out and eating up our earnings.

2021 November 28

Sunday school and worship at Cross Tracks Church this mourning. Our Sunday school class finished the book of Romans after only 8 months. The month of December we are going to join Gary Bible’s 4 week study of the incarnation. In january we will begin a study of the Lord’s Prayer.

Jardin Corona was where Ella requested for her birthday outing. I know, her birthday was last Sunday, but there wasn’t cash in the coffers for dining out last week. She really likes their enchiladas in white sauce. Since I have an onion allergy, dining at a Mexican restaurant can be a challenge for me. Bean burritos were the best I could do.

2021 November 27

It has trained all day long.

There seemed to be a lot of people coming “just to talk” to Santa today. It is not uncommon for parents to bring children for a visit without purchasing a photo. However, today there were a lot more than usual.

Santa always enjoys time to just visit. To all about their classes at school, what sports, games, or musical instruments they play. As the season draws closer to Christmas day, the crowds increase and there is more pressure to keep the line moving. Trying to find the balance to keep those at the back of the line from feeling that it its taking too long as opposed to those at the front of the line from feeling rushed. Santa has to”read” the line and adjust.

For the parents it is all about getting that special photographic memory of their children “at this age”. For the children it is about the visit with Santa, making their wishes known and asking questions about the “good list”, Santa, Mrs. Claus, the reindeer, the sleigh, and the elves

Mr. Jack O’Lantern made a mighty fine cream of pumpkin soup. This tasted particularly great on a cold rainy end of November day.

2021 November 26

Santa had more than a few adults come to sit with Santa (most on his knees) today. This is not unusual. Sometimes it is the continuation of a family tradition. Sometimes it it’s just a silly mood that gets acted upon.
Santa also had a large family contain cousins. All seven or eight wore matching pajamas.

Part of the large order, that I mentioned yesterday or Wednesday, was delivered from the Wal-Mart store around 4 pm. Part of it is being shipped. And, apparently, I need to do a curbside pickup of the Nyquil and Dayquil. I don’t understand why it could not be shipped or delivered. But there it is. I will wait for the shipped items arrive just to be sure that I understood correctly that they couldn’t be shipped.

It reached 53° today under a dark overcast sky.

2021 November 25 Thanksgiving

I never actually saw the sun “rise” because it didn’t clear the cloud for a long time and then disappeared again. The very dark strip at the bottom of these photographs is the horizon. The large dark gray swatch is all cloud cover.

After all of our preparation, only seven our eight people came to dine. After the 50+ from yesterday, (which I thought was odd to celebrate on the day before Thanksgiving) it was kind of a let down for me. Be thankful everyday, but only one day is designated as Thanksgiving. Sorry, though I’m obviously in the minority, it just seemed wrong. And now I have all this meaty from a 12 pound turkey. By the way,though I forgot to take pictures of the finished product, the turkey in the Instapot turned out wonderful. In less than 2 hours.

Wednesday a boy in his early teens came along with his younger siblings to see Santa and have pictures taken. After the younger ones had made their Christmas wishes know, Santa asked what he would like. The youngster said that the didn’t really need anything and was trying to find a way to help the homeless. He said that he had considered donating food or cash. Santa asked if he had ever heard of Blessing Bags. He was encouraged to do a Google search for some ideas.
Preparing some of these can be donated to food banks and others that work with the homeless. Plus some could be carried in the family vehicle and handed to those begging on street corners.
If you would be interested, there is an example below. There are many online resources for ideas on how you may be of assistance.

2021 November 24

The turkey has been thawing in the refrigerator since Sunday. This morning I put it in a cold water bath to finish thawing. As you can see from the photo, it is now completely flexible. It has gone back to the refrigerator until tomorrow morning when it will go into the Instantpot Duo Crisp. From start to finish, the turkey will be ready in under two hours! It promises to be tender and moist with crisp browned skin.

We had time this morning to play a few games of Fast Track. Ella won them all.

I took some time to pay bills before heading to work. The big one, of course, is the Rent. My VA meds are now good for another few months. I hope after the new year and new insurance, that I’ll pay zero for my prescriptions.

We have a large order ready to place at Wal-Mart for household items like paper goods, over the counter meds, vitamins, and supplements plus a few food items that we don’t normally receive from the Food Bank. That should, I hope, keep us stocked for a few months on most things other than milk.

I believe. Santa knows things that I don’t. Santa had a visit with three siblings today an older brother and sister and a much younger sister. Santa looked at the older two and said, “I know that one of you has math as your favorite subject and the other one has science as your favorite subject.” and they both kind of went, “How did you know that?” And then Santa turned to the younger one and said, “But your main interest is in art.” and she said, “You really are Santa.”

Later, two younger siblings were visiting Santa and asked what his favorite cookie is. Santa said, “The round ones.” Then said to the little girl, “Yours is chocolate chip, isn’t it?” Then to the boy, “You like cookies with extra sprinkles, don’t you?”

Okay, confession time. When asked what kids’ favorite school subject is, nearly 100% of the time it’s either math or science. The younger sister had color marker stains on her hands. Chocolate chip cookies are nearly universal in their appeal. And who doesn’t like cookies with extra sprinkles. There is a method to the Christmas magic, if you let the spirit lead.

Two prescriptions for Tom
and five for Ella. Thus was a necessary stop on the way home.
We had a Thanksgiving Eve meal this evening at the apartments. Lots of food, mostly desserts. Hey, we’re all old people and old people eat dessert first. ‘Cause you might die before the dinner is over. I’d rather arrive in heaven with pie on my breath than broccoli. 😀 I didn’t take any pictures but there was a respectful turnout (+or- 50) for something that only began being talked about a week ago.

2021 November 24

I like the way that the sun, through the trees, makes them look lacelike.

Mike was running a little late this morning, so we just waited patiently in the staging area (the green room?). At start time, Ella went to the set and started the setup. Very shortly, Mike came and escorted Santa down to the set. He then hooked up the camera and got it adjusted for the first photos.

This week Ella and I have fairly short hours. The week following Thanksgiving is when our hours increase to 6, 7, 8, or more.

Superman in his Clark Kent disuse. That’s what I feel like as I walk through the mall in the morning and on the way home.

Butter. That’s what we needed. Tonight. It couldn’t wait until we pick up our months supply of groceries and sundries tomorrow. Tomorrow they will bring our order to us and we won’t have to do shopping cart jousting in the store aisles.

But Ella had to have butter tonight to make peach cobbler. I choose to remain in the truck. Ella is smaller and could navigate the overcrowded storescape better than I. The cobbler looks good enough to eat.


I made a deep-dish apple pie tonight. It was done in memory of my mother’s apple pie. It has cheddar cheese baked into it. I even lightly sprinkled the top with shredded cheddar, sugar, and cinnamon. Apples and cheese go together amazingly well.

Santa had the pleasure of several visits with folks on the autism spectrum today. These are Santa’s special joys. One of my first large scale events was as Santa at a Make-A-Wish charity fundraiser during a huge drive through Christmas light display. During the event, in addition to all the families and children who came to visit Santa, there were busloads of special needs folks who also came. Sharing the joy of Christmas with people, who have a delight that fills every fiber of their being, is so very special to me. And yes there are heart aches also. These also make the event precious to Santa.

There were two brothers and a younger sister who came to see Santa today. The bouts were excited but the sister was clinging like a leech to her mother. After some failed attempts, the girl was finally convinced to sit with a brother between her and Santa. She finally gave a half hearted smile for the camera. When asked what she wanted for Christmas she wouldn’t speak. As they were leaving the chair, both boys hugged Santa and to my surprise, so did the sister.

2021 November 22

Mornings first light with a jets condensation trail snaking it’s way into the sun. It’s bad enough driving into the sun. I can’t imagine flying directly toward the sun.

It was another hit – the – ground – running day at the Santa set. Lots of happy children and a few happy adults who came by themselves. And of course there was an occasional unhappy child and or an unhappy parent.

Sorry to say that some parents have unreasonable expectations of their young children’s ability to smile on command. I’ve seen far too many parents trying to bully the children into “being happy.”

Four middle school young ladies came to get photos together with Santa. There were lots of giggles in this group.

Another couple were anything but giggly. The man, who had physical special needs, when asked what he wanted for Christmas, replied that Santa couldn’t help. I asked what it was that he wanted. He wanted his grandmother, who had died eleven years ago, to come back. I told him that he was correct that it wasn’t a wish Santa could grant. I told him that as long as he remembered her, that she would never truly be gone. That was basically the same thing I said to the woman who lost her husband in August.

©2021 Thomas E Williams

2021 November 21

We attended Sunday school in the chapel and then hurried home to grab a bite to eat. Them off to the mall we went. We listened to pastor Michele’s sermon on or way to work.
I used shampoo with blueing last night and now my beard looks blue. I’ll wash it with Dawn dish soap when I get home. Hopefully that will rinse out misty of the blue.
Today is Ella’s birthday and she’s been getting lots of greetings on her phone.

These flowers in the chapel were arranged by Ella.

Not much change from this morning’s photo.

Santa had a busy start for the day. The first hour and a half we’re pretty busy all the way through. Many of them had made reservations but also quite a few drop-ins or walk-ups.

At one point, we were ready to tell a grandpa with two girls to come in. However, we had a customer who wanted re-takes of an older toddler who refused to smile. He wasn’t fussy or crying. But would 12th not smile. She never was happy but purchased a package anyway. Once grandma was done, we finally could usher grandpa and girls in. He stated, “This will be a one take.” And it was. Both girls were grinning from ear to ear.

My favorite photograph of the day was the baby boy that threw his head back to look up at Santa while Santa was looking down at him.

A few games before bedtime.
©2021 Thomas E Williams