Warm hearts make for a ‘Merry Christmas’

Published 7:33 pm Friday, December 15, 2023

Even into today’s world in the year 2023, children still believe in Santa Claus or want to believe. So did Brian McDaniels  …when he was a youngster.

But that was years ago, when children believed in the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Peter Pan and, of course, Santa Claus. As they grew older, they decided that there were no bunnies hopping around in the grass hiding colored eggs or a boy in a green cap  flying around in Neverland. But, they wanted to believe in Santa Claus.

As a youngster, Brian McDaniels believed in most all things magical, especially Santa Claus, who flew around the world on one special night to grant the wishes of good little boys and girls

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As McDaniels grew older and wiser, he decided that Santa Claus was just a man in a red suit.

“Why, I even played Santa Claus to little children and listened to their Christmas wishes,” McDaniels said. “But, I didn’t really believe.”

Then, one day and, for no real reason, McDaniels became Santa Claus. Not a Santa in a red suit or guiding reindeer around the world on Christmas Eve but the Santa Claus that little children wanted to believe in.

“I am Santa and I know that children believe until someone tells them that Santa Claus is just a man in a red suit. But I also know there  are sixth graders who really want to believe and, I think, that’s because Christmas is a time for kindness and goodness and hope,”

Each year, McDaniels has been the Santa Claus for a growing number of children and that number has grown from several hundred in one Christmas season to nearly, 1,000 this year. He visits with children of all ages and in all places.

‘This year, I had the opportunity to be Santa around a bonfire at Panama City Beach,” McDaniels said. “I’m Santa at schools, at private parties, in homes, in parades — wherever there are those who believe in kindness, goodness and loving one another and spreading happiness all around.”

McDaniels said, as Santa Claus, he knows that not every child will believe in the magic of Santa but that they really  believe he is Santa.

“But they understand that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus and the importance of that day,” he said.

Even though a child might not believe in Santa and that he can fly around the world on a sleigh with  eight tiny reindeer,  they understand about love and giving and caring for others.

McDaniels said when children express doubt about the goodness in the world, he gives them a gold coin and asks them to hold it in their hand. As they do, they begin to feel the warmth.

“That warmth is coming to me from your heart,” McDaniels said. “I give them a coin of their own so they can feel the warmth and know that Santa knows of the good things they do and knows the love in their heart and the love they have for  yours.”

Warm hearts make for a “Merry Christmas” for all!