So what if I'm over 50? (Although not by much.)  I still believe in Santa and I'll tell you why.  There's a certain Santa in Spokane and I'm pretty sure he's the real deal.  He's chubby for real.  He's actually got white hair and this beautiful silver white beard.  And he's really made little kids and even some of their parents remember the true spirit of the season. 

How do I know that? A few years back, my granddaughter Cheraya went to see Santa.  (She's been getting her picture with this very Santa for all of her eight years now.)  That's where it all began.

Right after her Santa visit, she and her mom (my daughter) were headed off to see The Polar Express.  After the movie, they hopped on an STA bus and headed for home.  Well... apparently in the weeks pre-Christmas, Santa gives his reindeer a rest. Who knew?  So there he was riding in the front seat of that bus!  "Santa!" Cheraya exclaimed... then thinking a minute asked "You ride the bus?"  (You've got to love an eco-conscious Santa.)

Recognizing my granddaughter from earlier in the evening, Santa invited her to sit on his lap during their short ride home.  On the way she talked non-stop, telling him every detail of The Polar Express.

Santa's stop came first.  He hugged her goodbye and slid a little jingle bell into her hand!  Then he stepped to the front of the bus... turned around and uttered a jolly "Ho Ho Ho... Merry Christmas!" He gave the famous wink and Santa wave and disappeared into the snowy night.  For a precious few seconds, there was silence.  The driver didn't even drive away.   Everyone knew they'd just met the real Santa.

I'm sorry for those of you who didn't have that moment of magic on an STA bus at midnight, but you still have your chance.  The real deal Santa offers hugs, photos and the genuine spirit of Christmas every day at River Park Square

It was no surprise to hear that when my 10 month old grandson saw him last week, he reached out his chubby little arms with a trusting smile, completely secure in the arms of Santa Claus.

Maybe he's just the wrapper on a present that represents kindness, generosity and love.  Whatever it is, I believe in Santa and I don't plan to stop in this lifetime.