You're not sure you'll start wearing the Hat today. You're just going for a short walk around the block and then to an open art studio. There won't be many people about and the sunshine provided by Mother Nature seems to be offering lots of sparkle. Maybe the world doesn't need yours.
Plus, you feel vulnerable to possible critics who may tell you you're too early. Which makes you wonder again just how much joy is too much? Your joy quota, as it were. Hmmmmm. Why is it that we often seem to accept, and even feed, a spate of negativity but dole out the joy vouchers pretty stingily? You'll never ever understand that.
You put on your Santa Hat.
Within minutes, you're reminded of why. Why do you ever doubt it? Same thing, year after year after year after spangly year. Nine or ten years, actually, of wearing your Santa Hat as you go about your life. In big cities and farm country, at the seashore and in your suburban neighborhood. With good friends and complete strangers, the same lovely, heartwarming experience of people seeking to laugh, be playful, connect.
Passersby volunteer that they like your Hat or call out "Ho ho ho" with a knowing smile. Total strangers tell you they've been good this year. A neighbor you've passed so many times with no contact whatsoever now chuckles over your chapeau and exchanges best wishes with you for Thanksgiving and the holidays. A woman at the gallery offers that "we should all be wearing one of those." OK!
And then the piece de resistance. You don't even see it coming because you're crossing the street, momentarily blinded by the sun's radiance. But as you're regaining your vision and the sidewalk, a young voice a few feet away attests gleefully "I LOVE your Santa Hat!" You turn to see 2 little girls, standing with their mom, shining smiles a bit wonderingly up at you. Emboldened to call out to you by the Santa Hat.
Those twinkling, slightly quizzical smiles. You've seen them before. These wee ones are not sure whether you're actually part of the Santa band or just a grownup who wants to spread the joy. But as you and they all know, either way, it's magic.