‘Twas the July Before Christmas


‘Twas the July before Christmas

This is the story of my family’s very REAL encounter with Santa Claus. It was a hot July day and my four-year-old daughter Madeline, my 18-month-old son Bennett and I went to the playground early in the morning to beat the heat. I promised my children that after we played we would make the short walk to our favorite coffee shop for a snack. What happened next was downright magical. A man with an uncanny resemblance to Santa was at the coffee shop. (I’ve recently learned others have spotted this Santa lookalike around Knoxville, too.) Our special interaction with him was a wonderful reminder of the childlike wonder of Christmas and that it’s with us all year.

I hope you enjoy my poem as much as I enjoyed reliving this precious memory!

‘Twas the July before Christmas

And all through the coffee shop

Many people were stirring including a curious grandpop.


The beard on his face was as white as the snow.

His mouth as he smiled was drawn up like a bow.  


There was no furry red suit from his head to his toe.

Instead he looked like a regular Joe!  


Only a t-shirt, shorts and flip flops to cope with the heat.

My daughter’s eyes wide, she made not a peep.  


Our favorite coffee shop was where he sat

A long sleigh ride from the North Pole, how about that?


The rosy cheeks and twinkling eyes

even caught ME by surprise.


As we sat down at our table, we all shared a greeting.  

I decided this was no happenstance meeting.


I could see my daughter still sizing him up.

Suddenly he stood to refill his cup.


That’s when his friend turned to us with a secret to tell.

Her smile made clear all would be well.  


She held up her phone with his picture to share.  

Furry red suit and all, no mistake, he was there!


The real Santa Claus, St. Nick, Kris Kringle.

Father Christmas, Père Noël, and the Swiss Christkindl.


That very same man stood just steps away,   

The picture giving his true self away.  


That’s when my daughter whispered to me.

“Mommy, could it really be?”


The wheels in her brain had started to spin

As our Santa returned to his table all agrin.


He finished that cup and headed for the door.

That’s when my daughter’s jaw nearly hit the floor.


He called out kind words and finished with this:

“Be a good girl and you’ll get your wish!”  


No new-fallen snow and no sleigh to whisk him away.

Just another hot East Tennessee day.  


We didn’t get far as we walked to our car when my daughter made her conclusion.  

The look on her face said he had made his case, this was no illusion.  


She stopped in her place and pulled in my face to share her revelation.  

“It was Santa! It was him!” she said, filled to the brim with marvel and elation.  


The magic of Christmas is hard to define.

This is the thought I admit is mine.  


It’s a belief so innocent and pure.  

But not one that will always endure.  


Bottle it and protect it with care.

Then Santa Claus will always be there.

May you your family feel the childlike wonder of Christmas all year long!


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