|Amtrak today, and its predecessor (circa early last century)|
bound for Big Swamp City, New Orleans
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A little hung over, we donned our big red Santa suit once again and met Train #1, the Sunset Limited, westbound, during its fifteen minute Lafayette smoke-stop.
My Sister gave me the suit to lift my spirits after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita blew me clean across the Atchafalaya Basin. I have worn it every year since, Ho-Ho-Ho-ing, and red-and-green beading, and giving little colorfully wrapped chocolate bars shaped like, well, me.
Norma texted, "Have Girth Will Travel!"
Smiles washed the faces of the train crew, their passengers, and me. My Sister knows her therapy. After all, our bloodline flows from Germany (from where all Christmas accoutrements come.) "Freude, freude, freude!"
For four hours the day before, at Keller's Bakery on rue Jefferson, I was the Jolly Ole Elf on Christmas Eve, doorman-ing and carol singing among Keller's happy shoppers coming and going with sugar plums dancing in their heads, and their arms.
"Ho, Ho, Ho," we boomed at two ladies well into their cups.
"Just two Ho's here, Santa," they both said grinning and giggling. One lady passed Santa (me) a go-cup of seasonal elixir. "Joy, joy, joy!" And when they came back out, I Ho-ed but two Ho's in return for their smiles.
Later, Santa passed out treats at a private party in a well-fitted-out part of Lafayette. The Children and Grandchildren of prosperous Louisianans and Texans wore their Christmas beads with the inherited ease and grace of people who know Carnival and its relationship to the Birth of Jesus. And wine. Santa ate arugula, smoked-salmon, French brie, and red wine, in full lack of forethought about the coming Christmas Day.
Christmas morning started with Santa meeting Amtrak's old #1, a small guesture that makes me smile. It ended in an early banquet at the gracious home of Jewish friends who were my personal saviors back in '05, the year of the hurricanes. They fished me from the rough nets of FEMA, took me to Temple Shalom, and later celebrated Chirstmas with me. Thank you, and Happy New Year to all and to all a new day.
Copyright, 2014, Leonard Earl Johnson, all rights reserved