Every year, the American Society of Sao Paulo host a Christmas party for children from the various orphanages and day centers they sponsor throughout the year. This year, 214 volunteers each hosted a child. Every child received tennis shoes, socks, pants, a shirt, a sweatshirt or jacket, a toy, underwear, and another random gift, plus candy and other surprises.

The Christmas Angel Party was held Nov. 10 at Chapel School, beginning with lunch at noon when the buses arrived carrying the eager children, and ending around 5 pm after each of the children (aged 3-18) had received their gifts. In the meantime, they had games to play, arcade fun, sports games and contests, and as much ice cream as they could eat.

At the end of the day, the children received their gifts from Santa and his helper. (Funny aside, here in Sao Paulo, in the tropics, the vision of Santa is that of the USA: red velvet costume, full beard and long hair, boots and cap. Our poor Santas were melting! The alternative, which is apparently shown on a mural downtown and which I will try to photograph this week, is Santa in a thong.)

Tom and I sponsored Thabata, an 18-year-old sweetie who looks like she’s about 10 or 11. She was the last of all the children to receive her gift (not planned, just happened), and seemed most delighted with her new makeup kit.

Tom and I worked as Santa’s elves, ferrying the gift bags from their hiding place in the back up to where Santa and his helper presented the gifts to each child.

 

I was working, but I also had the best seat in the house, where I could watch the looks of wonder and delight as the little ones approached Santa, and enjoy the embarrassed eagerness of the older kids as they approached Santa and sat on his lap.

My favorite part was the little ones who realized that I was the “giver of the gifts,” and then would whisper their names at me. Thiago. Daniella. Trayela. Igor. Ingo. Camille. Tuany. Helios. Jonas. Richarincilla. Atilla. Joam. Poor Daniella, shown in front here with her Hello Kitty bag was last in the largest group. She was beside herself with anticipation!

I watched with hidden glee as one little guy, couldn’t have been older than three, inched his way forward in the crowd (leaving his smiling adult partner behind, with her smiling at me as we watched). Finally reaching the front row, he waited for his moment, when there was no child on Santa’s lap and none approaching, and dashing forward, hurtling himself into Santa’s lap, and cuddling into his embrace. The sheer joy of it all!

I saw no grabbing, no pushing, and no negative emotion at all. It was so hard for those little ones to wait their turn, but they were very patient. When I saw a child beginning to melt down, I’d quickly have my partner run and find out the name and we’d move that child up in the queue. One little girl did have a small complaint. She broke ranks and ran back to Santa, holding up a pair of pants that hung from her chin to the floor, and told him they were too big, and could he please exchange them! Several little ones ran up to thank Santa for their gifts.

At five-thirty, all the buses had been filled and the kids were on their way home. It had been a hot, humid, wild day…and I don’t know who was more content, the kids who had received or the adults and kids who had given.

The Holidays have begun!