There used to be a large wooden sign plastered across the furrdown that separated our kitchen from the breakfast room that read, “I Believe in Santa Claus.” Unfortunately, right after Christmas about 10 years ago, the family decided the furrdown needed to come down … something about us bumping our noggins 10 too many times. Yep, that evening after dinner, hubby took a sledge hammer to it and down it came faster than chubster old St. Nick can shimmy back up the chimney after dropping off his load of presents on Christmas Eve. Not exactly sure what happened to the Santa sign, but the spirit of Christmas lives on at the Frantz house. We like to give most of the credit to our special needs daughter for having something to do with never letting us forget the magic of the season. You see, Mimi absolutely adores Santa Claus. Always has. And if the truth be told, the Santas we have known have a special place in their big old mushy hearts for her. Although there have been many Santas in Mimi’s life, two very special ones immediately spring to mind. Let me preface my account with … these dudes are not the real Santa. Nope. But they are great stand-ins while the real one is busy gettin’ things ready in his North Pole workshop for the “big night.” I’m not sure exactly when Mimi met Santa number uno, but we go way back. In years past, he has played Santa at the Christmas party at our local YMCA for special needs children. This year, after a respite, he was back. Mimi greeted him as if it was the first time with outstretched arms. Santa leaped out of his sleigh and reached down to wheelchair level to give her a hug. To say Mimi was slightly excited is an exaggeration, as she reached both arms up and around his neck lacing her fingers together in her own special way. Basically, it means, “I’m not lettin’ go and you can’t make me.” Yep, it was a minute or so before we finally got the two untangled for the photo op. Mimi never took her eyes off Santa as the photographer and I tried to coax her to look into the camera and to please say “cheese.” Just before they finally parted, Santa handed Mimi a little stuffed Frosty the Snowman. Mimi clutched Frosty to her chest the entire night. This was the same Santa that seven or eight years ago paid a special visit to the Frantz house. That year, Mimi wasn’t able to attend the annual Christmas party at the YMCA. She was recovering from some yucky orthopedic surgery on her lower leg to correct a cerebral palsy deformity. There were long ugly wires sticking through her leg and foot attached to a couple of metal halos. I know you probably know people so good, they most certainly walk around all day wearing a halo in the proper location … around their head. Well, that was the year Mimi got creative and wore a couple of metal ones … for six long months … only in a different place. When Santa found out Mimi wasn’t able to come, he let me know someone would be stopping by for the party … for just a moment. Little did I know that not only did Santa show up, but he brought gifts and a bunch of cute little elves. You never forget the magic of moments like that. Now Santa number two, I won in a charity auction three years ago. Not tellin’ how much I paid for him to visit us on Christmas Eve, but it was worth every nickel, dime and $20 bill. This Santa is also a natural with the largest of hearts. He even grows a long white beard several months before Christmas. I remember handing him a stuffed animal to give Mimi when I opened the front door. Did I tell you that Mimi can’t say “Santa?” She calls him “Ho Ho.” As Mimi had repeated for some many years, the arms went up and around Santa’s neck the moment he came around the corner. Yep, and every time I tried to pry her fingers loose, Mimi resisted, holding on tighter. Santa number two signaled that it was all right. Personally, I was worried Mimi would cut off his oxygen supply, or dislocate a vertebra, but everything worked out. Did I mention that I found the missing Santa sign last week? I shoulda known … it was in Mimi’s closet. When we were decorating the house for Christmas this year, we decided to hang it above the window in our breakfast room. Not that we need a sign as a reminder “to believe.” Mimi does that enough for the whole neighborhood. Dixie Frantz is a Kingwood resident and newspaper columnist for the past 12 years. E-mail Dixie with your comments at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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