When Santa Gets it Wrong at Laurelton Center

It was Christmas Eve and I was just starting my second shift of administrative duty at Laurelton Center.  Laurelton had an administrator on all three shifts whose responsibility was to take care of any emergency incidents.  I had just started my shift when the telephone operator let me know that the person who was supposed to play Santa Claus and visit all the client living quarters could not make it due to illness. I had two choices. Either I could try and call someone to play Santa (yeah, right on Christmas Eve) or I could use the facility's Santa suit and play Santa.

I opted to play Santa.  So the first thing I did was raid the laundry building for a few pillowcases which would function as Santa's gift sacks and then go to the dietary building and gather some packs of cookies, pretzels, and any other tasty items I could find.  At the same time, I was hoping there wouldn't be any emergency calls to prevent Santa from getting to each living unit and mingling with clients while passing out food items.

I donned the Santa suit and off I went to each living unit.  The Hospital unit was first and I walked around saying ho-ho-ho and Merry Christmas to the male and female clients who beamed and waved and sat on Santa's lap.  I passed out the goodies to those who were able to eat and the staff gave ice cream to those who had trouble chewing. The smiles on their faces just melted my heart.

The next living unit had men and women and most of them could walk and talk with Santa about what they wanted for Christmas.  Most appreciated the food items and wanted more.  One of the female clients was sitting on a chair apart from the group. So I wondered over with my ho-ho-ho and asked, "What do you want for Christmas?"  And she quickly replied, "Can you get me the hell outta' here?"  I held back my laugh, gave her a hug, and said, "Maybe next year if your family agrees".

Onward to the other living units where Santa was met with smiles, applause, and requests for more cookies and pretzels.  Most were willing to talk about what they wanted for Christmas and many still wanted refills of pretzels and cookies.  I was happy to see so many smiling faces and many were hoping they could go home with family members.

Finally, I went to the last living unit which was all women and they were cheering my arrival. Most of these women were very verbal in telling me what they wanted for Christmas. I was pleased with all of the smiles and the questions and was thinking that I made a pretty good Santa Claus.  I was enjoying myself thinking that this evening is turning out pretty well.  Then it was time to pass out the goodies.  I emptied my bag in passing out the remaining cookies and pretzels. I gave my final "Ho-ho-ho, Merry Christmas to all" and waved as I headed for the front door.

Then a small disaster occurred.  Most of these women were higher functioning in having all their self-care skills and higher functioning mentally than some of the other living units.  I was halfway to the door when one woman yelled, " HEY, THESE ARE STATE COOKIES!  I DON'T LIKE STATE COOKIES SANTA".

In Laurelton lingo, "state cookies" meant cookies that were NOT HOMEMADE but were instead purchased from a store.  I walked a little faster to the front door, grabbed the door handle, turned and waved, and yelled "Merry Christmas to all and to all a Goodnight".  I made it to the Administration Building and immediately called the staff to thank them for their calming words which probably prevented a minor riot.

Back at my office, I took off the Santa suit and figured that the night went well except for "the state cookies".  But, I thought, "I like "state cookies''. ..... But, maybe not as much as homemade cookies. The next year, I figured that I would ask the dietary department to make a few batches of homemade cookies for Santa to pass out.   Something as simple as that would definitely make a merrier Christmas.

by BOB D., The Old Codger