My senses are swirling and my joints are aching. My vision has been blurred by a constant dribble of sweat flowing from my brow. My knees appear like they're ready to come detached from a fragile torso.
It's not easy playing Santa at the local church Christmas party, especially after hitting your 70s.
Used to be a time when I could hoist two youngsters onto my lap, absorbing a couple of swift kicks to the shins, while listening to 50 requests. Sometimes more.
But that was 40 years ago. That's how long I've been impersonating the jolly old fella. Others have tried to hone in on my territory, but the role always reverted back to me.
When you teach a bunch of students in Sunday school, you can appear before them in an iron mask and they'll know who you are. No secrets here, except from the 3-year-olds. The brown bucks are a dead give-away, not to mention the voice. Much as I've tried to disguise myself, it's never worked.
What does it take to impersonate Santa? Intestinal fortitude for one thing, and a gift of gab. A rundown of each youngster is not required — but helpful. The meek need not apply.
For instance ...
"Merry Christmas, Noah. How's the ark these days and the animals that came aboard in twos? You know, of course, it landed on Mount Ararat following a flood. It's all there in the Book of Genesis. Congratulations on making the honor role in school and scoring a touchdown."
"How do you know all that?"
"Cuz I'm Santa. Ho! Ho! Ho!"
"Hey, I know who you are ..."
Ever since I was old enough to believe in miracles, Santa was my hero. He could make dreams come true. Any guy that could fly through the air on a sleigh pulled by reindeer was not your ordinary folk hero. Especially one who started out old and incredibly stayed the same.