I almost didn’t write this because I swore I’d never tell anyone what I’m about to tell you. But I have to.
A few weeks ago I received a letter postmarked from Nunavut, Canada. An invitation said that I had been selected along with a few other writers for an exclusive, one-on-one interview with a very important person who wears a red suit and owns a lot of reindeer and is not Oprah Winfrey.
The next day, I was on a plane from Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, flying to Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport. Our plane landed in a bunch of Midwestern gray snow. And I mean a bunch of snow.
Milwaukee was as cold as a witch’s underwire. I don’t know why anyone would choose to live in Milwaukee in the winter. Which brings up a joke my mother’s friend Judy, from Milwaukee always tells:
“What do you call a good looking man on the streets of Milwaukee?” “Frozen to death.”
So the layover wasn’t too bad. Neither were my other connecting flights to Tacoma, British Columbia, and Fairbanks International Airport.
When I reached Alaska, things were touch-and-go. I caught a commuter flight to Deadhorse Airport, near Prudhoe Bay—which is basically the edge of the world where the temperature drops to forty below zero sometimes.
The next commuter plane was piloted by a Norwegian guy named Arvid who, while we were flying through a heavy blizzard, remarked, “I have never flown in an actual blizzard before.”
So things were going great. When we finally touched down, Arvid made the Sign of the Cross, and I changed my trousers.
We were on the remote Fosheim Peninsula at a research facility on Ellesmere Island. This facility has been continuously manned since 1947 and was covered in about ten feet of snowdrift. But the men who run the place are very friendly. Which is remarkable considering they are isolated from modern civilization and most of them smell like they have never been in a committed relationship with a woman.
Jôrse showed me to my room. Jôrse is from Nuuk. He speaks five languages, but his native tongue is Greenlandic like most guys here. Greenlandic is only used by only about 60,000 people worldwide.
Jôrse taught me how to say a few important Greenlandic words like “inuugujaq,” which means “good afternoon.” And “baaj” which either means “hello” or “I’m gonna cut you, sucker.” Jôrse’s explanation wasn’t clear on this.
Before supper, I took a three-minute hot shower. Energy conservation is a big deal on the island, showers are limited. This is probably why the whole facility smells like the laundry bag for the boys varsity basketball team.
That night, we ate supper in the cafeteria where they served what looked like freeze-dried beef brains, only less appetizing. I asked the cook what the dish was. He shouted, “Wslfwie weoinwoei jwoeinrwksepo sefsdifoi!”
And everyone laughed. So since the crowd was nice and warmed up, I told another Milwaukee joke.
The next morning, Jôrse flew us north toward the Arctic Ocean. The sun never came out, and the white tundra was lit by the glow of the moon.
At the last outpost—which was just a little shack—a snowmobile arrived. The driver kicked open the door and told me and Jôrse to get in. On our ride, I noticed the driver had pointy ears and I got all excited.
“Are you an elf?” I asked.
He said, “We prefer to be called Allegorical Northwestern Europeans.”
After driving two hours, we arrived at what looked like a ski lodge on steroids. It was the biggest structure I’ve ever seen, and trust me, I’ve been to Talladega Superspeedway.
Our driver unloaded our luggage then held out his hand and cleared his throat loudly, refusing to leave until Jôrse tipped him no less than a fifty.
“Elves,” said Jôrse.
Inside the lodge was a roaring fireplace, an all-you-can-eat buffet, and a floor show with the Rockettes.
I met writers from all over the world who received the same postmarked invitations I received. And we were all very pumped about meeting the big guy.
“So,” one of the writers asked me, “you’re from Florida, huh?”
“Yeah,” I said. “What about you?”
“Really?” I said. “Wanna hear a joke?”
“Sure,” he said. “But first, did you hear about the tragic fire at Florida State University library?”
“The fire destroyed all the books on campus, and most of them hadn’t even been colored in yet.”
After supper, a pointy-eared Allegorical Northwestern European led us all to an enormous factory. And I would tell you more about it, but I have to pause right here. Because we had to sign a non-disclosure agreement stating that we would refrain from cellphone photography and written descriptions, or else we would be in a lot of legal trouble.
So without breaching my agreement, I’ll skip to the good part. Eventually we all arrived at a big wooden door labeled “Office.” And we all waited for our turn.
When it was my turn, I almost fainted. I stepped inside. I took a deep breath. And I saw the person I’ve been waiting my whole life to meet. The one and only. The legend of all legends. Oprah Winfrey.
No. I mean it was Santa Claus. And it was utterly magic. Santa Claus is the one of the best things humanity ever made because he is an image of what we could be.
Sadly, I can’t share anything more than this. But before I leave you, I want to tell you what I was thinking about when I was in Santa’s office.
I was thinking of Laney, an 8-year-old girl from Texas who sent me a heartfelt letter recently. She wrote, “Is Santa real? I need him to be real this year.”
I wish more than anything that I could show you a cellphone picture of it all, Laney. Because if you saw it, you’d believe me. And you’d know. But legally speaking, I can’t take that chance. Because if I did, a judge might sentence me to live in Milwaukee.
Santa Claus? Thank God he lives. And he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
Shoshana - December 24, 2022 6:16 am
Nan - December 24, 2022 6:21 am
I believe too!!!
Cm - December 24, 2022 7:21 am
I was right there with you the whole way! What an adventure!⛄️
Steve Winfield (lifer) - December 24, 2022 7:35 am
Of course he’s real. Otherwise who’d take care of all those reindeer?
Sandi. - December 24, 2022 7:38 am
When our three children reached the ages where they did not believe in Santa Claus, I told them very matter-of-factly: “If you believe you’ll receive, and if you don’t, you won’t.” There was no further discussion.
JB - December 24, 2022 8:21 am
My momma always told us that the day Santa quit coming was the day we quit believing. It worked.
Carol from GA - December 24, 2022 9:35 am
Love love love…. Sean, you are a National Treasure! Merry Christmas from our home to yours!
Jeanne Hays - December 24, 2022 10:11 am
Great trip! Thanks for taking us with you!!
Renee Welton - December 24, 2022 10:12 am
Leslie in NC - December 24, 2022 10:59 am
Thank you, Sean for this story. I was 5 or so and my family lived on the water in the panhandle of Florida. I couldn’t sleep that Christmas Eve because I was too excited. The rest of the family was asleep and as I lay in my bed, I heard the faint tinkling of sleigh bells and as they got closer, I went to the window to look out. Suddenly, a soft light reflected on the water and as I gazed up, there he was…Santa Claus & his reindeer gliding across the night sky! What a sight to see for a 5 year old and now in my late 60s, I will never forget and I will always believe! 🎅
Steve McCaleb - December 24, 2022 12:43 pm
Easy on the absinthe there bucko !
Ginga Smithfield - December 24, 2022 1:06 pm
Merry Christmas, Sean and family! Thank you so very much for your story about your meeting with Santa Claus! Thanks for letting us know that he is still on the job! I truly hope you, Jamie and sweet Marigold have a warm, healthy, and very Merry Christmas!
Marsha Hamby Savage - December 24, 2022 1:12 pm
I do believe … and also believe this is one of your best. I couldn’t help but read parts of it as I was chuckling … as I got to them to my husband… especially the part about Talladaga Superspeedway… he is a NASCAR fan from all his life. He believes as well.
Gene Cahan - December 24, 2022 1:13 pm
Awesome! We should ALL believe! 🎄❤️🤩
mccutchen52 - December 24, 2022 1:49 pm
Thanks Sean, Over the years my belief has been shaken but you have restored my belief in Santa.
Susan McCarthy - December 24, 2022 2:02 pm
So funny! ❤️🎄❤️
Trudy - December 24, 2022 2:07 pm
Sean, when you describe something I can envision it all. You took us all to the North Pole. Thank you. I’m 64 and I still believe. Yes, Virginia, Santa is real.
Linda Lewis - December 24, 2022 2:15 pm
Oh, I love this story. It kept me entertained and on the edge of my seat. I couldn’t wait for the next sentence. Thank you for sharing this with us. I wish you and Jamie a very Merry Christmas!
P Deas - December 24, 2022 2:19 pm
Thanks for not going WOKE…..Merry Christmas 🎄 to you and Yours…It’s a COLD morning in Cedar Key….21’ this morning in sunny Florida!!!
Mize Rosemary - December 24, 2022 2:24 pm
Thank you dear Santa Sean for sharing your stories real and unreal and Merry🎄Christmas to you and Your Family!
Steve Leachman - December 24, 2022 2:26 pm
Nice story. But you’re wrong about the FSU library. It was the University of Alabama’s library that burned down. Lucky for Coach Saban the football team doesn’t even know there is a library at the university. For that matter none of the students do either. Merry Christmas.
Leslie Anne - December 24, 2022 3:56 pm
Anne Arthur - December 24, 2022 2:29 pm
Wow, you are a lucky man to have been invited meeting Santa in his office. We all believe.
Merry Christmas, Sean, Jamie, the dogs, and everyone else in this happy fan club.
Stacey Wallace - December 24, 2022 2:40 pm
Of course Santa is real. Thanks, Sean. Love to you, Jamie, Marigold, Otis Campbell, and Thelma Lou.
Patricia Gibson - December 24, 2022 2:42 pm
🙏 amen amen!
Tony Hancock - December 24, 2022 2:51 pm
An Amazing story on this Christmas Eve and bringing a new hope for the future!
Thank you Sean.
David - December 24, 2022 3:17 pm
Good one Sean! Merry Christmas Bubba!
Nancy Grinstead - December 24, 2022 6:35 pm
Sadly, one year I was questioning Santa.. I sneaked a peak and when Christmas came I was right nothing came for me from Santa , I thought I never should have snuck a peak I was so upset probably crying.
A while later my Dad and brother brought up something that had my name on it FROM Santa ❣️
I never snuck a peak after that year ever and I still believe 💯 🥰
Melissa Brown - December 24, 2022 3:20 pm
Oh WOW, what a wonderful Christmas Eve story. Of course l believe in Santa & Jesus. They are what make Christmas such a wonderful day. Merry Christmas to you and your family and precious furbabies. ♥️🎅🎁💚🎄✝️
Maggie Priestaf - December 24, 2022 3:30 pm
Sean, I’m married to (a) Santa. I’m delighted by your sharing with us your meeting with the real deal. Keep up the good work! A blessed Christmas to you and Jamie and all those you love. ♥️
ELIZABETH PRINCE - December 24, 2022 3:56 pm
Wonderful tale! Thanks for writing it! I’ll try to remember the Florida joke, although, it’s probably true!
Steve McCaleb - December 24, 2022 3:56 pm
Dear Mr. Leachman, your jab at Coach Saban and the Tide was semi-amusing. But coming from a supporter of “Free Shoes U” is more than I can let go. Please remember ……it was one of your star players who stayed up all night studying for a urine test (and still failed). Oh and before I forget, you might want to speak to your admittance people, “I GOT A PULSE” is not an appropriate answer when asked your qualifications to being admitted to your fine institution. Warm regards
Peggy M. Windham - December 24, 2022 4:07 pm
Merry Christmas! I love your Santa story and I’m glad you got to meet him!🎁❤️🎄🎅🏼
Sean of the South: The Day I Met Santa | The Trussville Tribune - December 24, 2022 4:15 pm
[…] By Sean Dietrich, Sean of the South […]
Susan - December 24, 2022 4:18 pm
Susan - December 24, 2022 4:21 pm
Diane - December 24, 2022 4:25 pm
Karen Snyder - December 24, 2022 4:46 pm
And all God’s people said, “Amen.” Thanks for sharing your adventure, Sean. Merry Christmas! ✝️🎄🎅🏼
Mary - December 24, 2022 5:08 pm
Nena Manci - December 24, 2022 5:39 pm
Yes, he is real this year, and every year. Thank you for the investigative proof!
Merry Christmas to you, Jamie and you furry crew.
Crysti - December 24, 2022 6:04 pm
Santa!! 😍 He’s right up there with Mr.Rogers! I see a lot of Santa in YOU, Sean.
Merry Christmas! 🎄 ❤️🙏
Linda Moon - December 24, 2022 6:13 pm
Wow…Santa still makes this former child’s heart feel good. And John Prine’s Illegal Smile makes me feel happy too (the song, not the smiley stuff.) Stay warm and legal, Sean. And keep bringing smiles to us readers…we believe in you!
Becky Souders - December 24, 2022 7:28 pm
Another great story, Sean Dietrich. Happy Holidays to you and Jamie!
Ann - December 24, 2022 7:33 pm
Ahhhhh another mental magic part of Christmas…imagination….may it live on as Christ will be in Christmas forever…MERRY CHRISTMAS
Mary Lou Derksen - December 24, 2022 8:32 pm
I love your stories… you make me smile, laugh out loud and sad… you have a real gift! TY!
Tina - December 25, 2022 2:45 am
Santa Claus has made my heart glad all my life and I am in my 70’s. Merry Christmas everyone. Happy birthday Jesus!! The greatest gift EVER!! ❤️🎁
MAM - December 25, 2022 4:28 am
What a great story! Glad you met THE Santa Claus, so now we all are sure he’s definitely real! Mery Christmas to you, Sean, Jamie and the fur babies. And Happy Birthday, Jesus, who definitely was the best gift ever, as Tina above said!
Margaret H Jackson - December 25, 2022 11:02 am
Merry Christmas to you and Jamie and all your fur babies!
God bless you as we go into 2023. Keep writing your stories that make us laugh and touch our hearts.
Janette Campbell - December 26, 2022 4:07 am
BOO! on your FSU joke —-and I have an advanced degree from that Tuscaloosa institute of higher education. So be careful there as well.
From a Seminole for more than 55 years and a retired math teacher
Ellen Clark - December 27, 2022 1:50 am
May God bless you! I truly enjoy your articles? blogs? Whatever they are I so appreciate them. You may be the voice crying in the wilderness…
JAY MARCKS - December 27, 2022 2:49 pm
Milwaukee is a most wonderful place to live!