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From chance encounters down at the shops to thrilling last-minute home visits, these amazing experiences from Reader’s Digest readers will make you believe in the spirit of Christmas.

Remember me?

Last year, when our three-year old great-granddaughter Kylie was taken to see Santa Claus, she made sure to give him her wish list of toys. A week later, she ran into a different Santa in a mall. He stopped to ask what she wanted for Christmas.

Kylie was appalled and let him know: “If you can’t remember what I told you last week, how are you going to remember on Christmas Eve?!” – Mary Paul

When Santa knocks

One Christmas eve, there was a knock on our door. It was Santa – red suit, white beard, and all! My parents invited him in, and he proceeded to pose for photos with us and eat our cookies. After a while, he wished us all a merry Christmas and left.

Once the door closed behind him, we all looked at one another and asked, “Who ordered the Santa?”

To this day, we have no idea who that man was. – Kathy Brody

Making spirits bright

Years ago, drowning in too many responsibilities, I found myself devoid of any Christmas spirit. One day, I stopped at a red light. As I sorted through my long list of onerous tasks, a beat-up sedan pulled up next to me. Behind the wheel was Santa Claus belting out Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.” The man did not have a care in the world.

Realising he had an audience, he turned, looked me straight in the eye, and shouted, “Merry Christmas!”

As he drove off, his enthusiasm lifted my spirits and officially kicked off my holiday season. – Thomas Warrner

The real deal

As my son Mike and I drove to the mall, we passed a Salvation Army Santa ringing his bell. “Mike,” I said, “there’s Santa!”

He shook his head. “That’s just some guy in a Santa suit,” he said. It saddened me to think that maybe my son no longer believed in Santa, and we drove the rest of the way in silence.

At the mall, we spotted another Santa greeting young believers. Suddenly, Mike took off toward him.

Turning back to me, he shouted, “Now, there’s the real Santa!” – Michael E. Fahey

Bathroom Santa

A friend asked me to dress as Santa to surprise her son. I went over to their house, changed into a Santa suit in the bathroom, and, to the delight of the little boy, came out with a loud “Ho, ho, ho!”

After a half hour, I returned to the bathroom, changed back into my regular clothes, and exited the bathroom.

The boy went in after me. He looked around for Santa.

Then, reaching the only possible conclusion, he lifted the toilet seat and shouted, “Bye, Santa!” – Kevin Cuddihy

Always be prepared

My sister-in-law had driven her five-year-old son Josh to the mall with the purpose of visiting Santa and telling him what he wanted for Christmas.

After parking the car, they got as far as the entrance when Josh stopped, threw out his hands to block their path, and announced, “Wait! I forgot the toy catalogue!” – Laurel Holt

Santa appears in many different guises

It had been a rough year: a single father with two young daughters, I was out of work and out of money. With little choice, I told the girls, “It looks like our gift from Santa will be the gift of our love for each other.”

Then a miracle occurred. I won $1,000 in a contest.

I kept it a secret as I went on a shopping spree and spent Christmas Eve wrapping presents for my girls, all the time thinking, Boy, will they be surprised!

The next morning, I went to the living room to lay out the gifts and froze. There were already dozens of presents under the Christmas tree – all with my name on them.

My girls had felt bad that Dad wouldn’t be getting any gifts, so they’d carefully wrapped their favourite stuffed animals and other toys so that I would have a merry Christmas.

As I stared at the gifts through tear-filled eyes, I promised myself to never again doubt Santa Claus. – Andrew Shecktor

Quick, Daddy, you'll miss him!

On Christmas Eve, my husband went next door to retrieve a gift for our son and daughter. I had just slipped into bed when I heard him return. Our three-year-old son also heard him, and soon he was in my bed clinging to me, nervously excited that Santa was in the house.

We waited in silence for a few minutes, until he whispered, “Too bad Daddy can’t be here.” – Connie Chamberlain

Santa's last visit

When Santa came to the nursing home where I worked, the first patient he visited was Margaret. She was confined to her bed but was thrilled when he roared “Ho, ho, ho” in her doorway.

“Santa!” she said softly.

“Merry Christmas, Margaret. What do you want for Christmas, little girl?”

“I want a kiss from you, Santa,” she said with a grin. Santa gently took Margaret’s hand, bent down, and kissed her. He then added quietly, “God bless you, Margaret.”

“God bless you, too, Santa,” she whispered back.

Santa went on to visit every bedridden patient in the home. Afterward, he asked his nurse escort whether he could say goodbye to Margaret.

Struggling to find the right words, she told him that Margaret had died soon after he’d left her room. She said that in her final moments, Margaret had spoken of being blessed by Santa.

Santa thanked the nurse for telling him and then quickly left the floor. After all, nobody would want to see Santa Claus cry. – Stephen Rusiniak

Do I know you?

My six-year-old granddaughter attended a Christmas party where Santa was the honoured guest. When it was her turn to sit on his lap, Santa asked her name.

“Shelbi,” she whispered.

“Can you repeat that?” asked Santa.

Annoyed, Shelbi said loudly, “Oh, you know me, Larry. You’re my bus driver.” – Ellen Seedall

Saucy Santa

I was five when my brother took me to the firehouse to see Santa Claus, who, unbeknownst to me then, was actually my father.

Later, when I got home, I excitedly told my mother that Santa had boots just like Dad’s!

She smiled. Then I added, “And he had lots of women come sit on his lap too.”

There went the smile. – Dianna Reed

Just being neighbourly

We immigrated to America from China when I was six. Because I was shy and didn’t speak English, I had few friends. My days were spent at home with my brother. Sometimes we’d help our neighbour Mr. Mueller pull weeds.

One Christmas Day, there was a knock at the door. Grandma opened it, and there stood a big fellow in red with a snow-white beard, laughing, “Ho, ho, ho!”

He handed out presents and made us laugh. I had so much fun.

It was years later when I learned that our special Santa was our neighbour Mr. Mueller. – Joanne Tang

Scary Santa?

It was Christmas Eve, and our three-year-old son was wired. “You need to go to bed right away,” my husband told him, “because Santa will look in your window to make sure you’re asleep before he leaves presents.”

Suddenly, our son’s eyes grew big, and his voice quavered as he shrieked, “I don’t want the big, scary man with the beard looking in my window!”

Needless to say, we were up very, very late that Christmas Eve with our son in bed between us. – Michelle Rodenburg

Ho! Ho! Noooooooooo!

My nearly nearly two-year-old granddaughter was reluctant to meet Santa Claus for the first time. Nevertheless, she patiently sat on his lap and waited while we took picture after picture.

Finally, having had enough, she figured a way out of her predicament.

She turned to Santa and stated, “I pooped.”

With that, Santa said, “She’s done,” lifted her up, and handed her back to her mother. – Ruth Turner

Me and Santa go way back

While I was president of a state college in New York, I came home from work one December day and drove my five-year-old son, Brett, to Santa’s village.

Brett was nervous but excited and had a long wish list of toys clutched in his hand. When it was our turn, we approached the great man seated in his big chair.

That was when Santa, who turned out to be a student at my college, stood up, extended his hand, and said, “Dr. Andersen. This is an unexpected pleasure!”

Brett dropped his list, stared at me with astonishment, and said, “Why didn’t you tell me you knew Santa?” – Roger Anderson

Better late than never

I’d been hired to appear at a church dressed as Santa. But traffic was so bad, my elves and I were late.

When we finally arrived, we were met with scowls from the annoyed parishioners.

Suddenly, the angry silence was pierced by a shout: “Santa!”

A small four-year-old girl came running from the other side of the room and leaped into my arms.

“Oh, Santa,” she breathlessly cried out, “I love you!”

That turned the scowls into smiles. – Duncan Fife

The Great Depression

It was December 1935, during the Depression. Although she was a single mother of three with little money, Mum never turned away any hungry person who came to our door.

One day, she welcomed in a man with white hair and a great white beard. While she fixed him a meal, he asked me in the kindest way, “What do you want for Christmas?”

“Skates,” I quickly replied.

“You’ll get them,” he assured me. I was elated. Not so my mother – she couldn’t afford them.

Christmas morning came, and there were no skates under the tree. Mother tried to explain that I wouldn’t be getting them, but I knew differently. I ran to the front door and threw it open, and there on the porch was a pair of skates.

My mother later told me that a family friend had left them there for me. But I know it was Santa. – Ziza Bivens

What are the chances?

Several years ago, after numerous fertility-drug treatments, I became pregnant. Six months later, we lost the baby.

My husband and I were devastated. A few years and tears later, we tried another round of treatments. But after many months of futility, my wonderful husband said, “Neither one of us can take this much longer. So let’s agree, if after this last treatment we do not get pregnant, we’ll do something crazy like purchase a 1967 candy-apple-red Corvette and enjoy our lives as is.”

I agreed.

Lo and behold, we finally had our bouncing baby boy. A few months later, we were at the mall, snapping photos of Santa holding him.

As Santa handed our son back, he shocked us both by saying, “It’s a lot better than a Corvette, no?” – Annemarie Wenner

One last bike

Funds were tight for my friend Jo and her husband. But Tinker, Jo’s five-year-old son, was convinced that since he’d been good all year, Santa would bring him a bike. And not just any bike, but a rare yellow one.

“Don’t worry, Mum,” he said. “He’ll bring it.”

Jo’s sister and her five-year-old son lived with Jo, and as it happened that little boy was getting a red bike. On Christmas Eve, I told my mother the story of Tinker and the yellow bike.

“You can’t let that happen!” She said. “That little boy won’t understand why Santa brought his cousin a new bike and not him!”

Mum handed me a pile of bills. “Take this, and get him that bike.”

By now it was late, and most stores were closed. I called the only place I knew that sold bikes. A man answered. I asked if he had any boys’ bikes left.

“Only one,” he said. Then he added apologetically, “But it’s yellow.” – Carole Martinez

A very special day

By the time I was seven, my parents had been divorced three years. Still, when we woke up that Christmas morning, Daddy was there.

My little sister and I were told there was a gift from Santa waiting for us outside. We sprinted out the door, and there it was, a beautiful white playhouse complete with a front porch.

Inside, it was furnished with a table and two chairs, a small baby cradle with two dolls and a kitchen area with dishes. Daddy had constructed it, while Mother bought the furniture and made curtains.

We spent the morning eating breakfast in our little white playhouse with Mother and Daddy.

Even though our parents were no longer together, we knew they would always be “together” for their girls. And they were. – Sharon Smitherman

Santa can bake!

Because we didn’t have much money, our family focused less on gift giving and more on the birth of Jesus. But that doesn’t mean we went without. We lived close to a Franciscan convent, and each Christmas, the nuns brought us a huge box overflowing with aromatic baked goods – some dipped in decadent chocolate, others with a chewy fruitcake texture.

What a treasure to discover that Santa dresses in many colours besides red. Sometimes Santa arrives in plain black dresses and can bake. – Melanie Salava

Santa claws

One Christmas Eve, Dad wanted us to experience watching Santa place gifts under the tree. So, unknown to my siblings and me, he had a coworker dress as Santa and come to our house around the time we were going to bed.

When Dad’s friend “sneaked” into the house, I was so excited to see Santa.

So was our dog, who attacked him.

I reached the kitchen in time to find red and white fur on the floor and to see Santa leaping over the back fence for his life. – Stanley Sons

The Santa cure

When I was eight, I attended a Christmas party with my mother, since Daddy was working late. Unfortunately, I had a terrible headache and begged my mum to take me home. She said she would, but only after Santa had passed out our gifts.

Then Santa arrived.

When he called my name, I sat on his lap. That’s when I saw his distinctive mechanic’s hands, covered with grease and calloused.

Santa was my dad.

Amazingly, my headache didn’t hurt so much anymore. – Debi Michel

I'll field this one, Santa...

My two granddaughters had a visit from Santa (my son-in-law’s coworker).

Santa asked the two-year-old, “So, what do you want for Christmas?”

Before the shy little girl could give an answer, her four-year-old sister gave it for her: “She wants me to have a Barbie doll.” – Brenda Morris

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