I watched them in the water, a jovial family meeting, grandparents looking on with unashamed delight as their grandchild splashed bravely in his mother’s protecting arms, while the older grandchildren swam and played close by.
The upper halves of the elderly couple visible above the water were both stout and richly proportioned. Their faces were alike in their rosy-cheeked plumpness, he with a fuzzy white and generous beard, she with pearl-grey hair tied in a knot behind her head. They also were both alike in their grinning delight, their enjoyment in the children obvious.
It suddenly struck me: I was watching Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus off duty. It was, after-all, still eight weeks until Christmas. I smiled as I watched them, imagining them at work, clad in their red fur-trimmed uniforms, surrounded by their little helpers and shaking with mirth at the antics of the elves at work.
It was easy to imagine Santa and his Maria bustling busily about as they worked in Santa’s toy factory, filling Christmas orders for all the good little children like their own grandchildren.
I could already see Santa standing with hands on his portly hips, his head thrown back with laughter, emitting his famous “Ho, ho, ho,” while motherly Maria Claus, her red gown covered by a frilly apron over her expansive breast, dispensed milk and cookies with beaming largesse.
The family gathered the children about them. It was time to go, to get back to the North Pole and back to work. The illusion collapsed, however, like a shiny glass bauble shattering on the floor in tinkling fragments, as portly Santa clambered out of the pool, dried off like a lumbering walrus, and then grasped his walking frame.