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Santa Does Exist – It’s Official!

Yesterday I dressed up as Santa and joined some friends in London to give out some free hugs. Dressing up as Santa is something that I have done many times and I have had several free-hugging expeditions. However, I could not have prepared myself for the magical experience that I would have.

With no particular plan we drifted around London in 0 degrees. It proved to be a little cold, especially on the finger tips but we broke up our hugs with coffee shop stops and trips on the underground. At one stage we had about 15 friends giving out free hugs.

Throughout the day we gave hundreds of hugs each. This was particularly nice in such cold weather. I was also approached by several young children who wanted to be hugged by Santa. This was a wonderful experience.

Listening to skeptical views on what was in it for us was one call of the day. I was even offered money by one mum as I hugged her little girl! Disarming people about our intentions was another rewarding aspect of free hugs. Our aim is to spread a few smiles around London and feel good as we see the results. It is a perfect win-win investment of time.

As the day turned to night and our group thinned out we decided to go and sing some Christmas songs on the underground and hand out a few free hugs. This proved to be a great exercise in lifting the spirits of the tube. Not everyone wanted a free hug but a surprising amount of people did. We had people sing along, lots of applause, lots of smiles and plenty of confused-looking people as we raised the energy of the tube.

When all of my fellow free-huggers finally went their separate ways it was just me heading home on the night train to St Albans in the early hours of the morning. I did not anticipate that it would be snowing or that I’d have so much fun. The train was crammed and the mood was generally low from a few returning revelers who were squashed together.

To cheer things up on a very crowded train I sung a few songs and a group of men joined in, easing the atmosphere. This also prompted a few songs from further down the carriage.

About mid-way into the journey I noticed a very small boy, who could not have been more than about 5 years old. He was looking up at me, slightly bemused. I kneeled down to ask him how he was and, suddenly, all of the revelry around me stopped as the train travelers appeared to focus in on our conversation.

I had a chat with him before asking the young lad if he would like a hug. He nodded before giving me the most amazing hug of the day. It lasted several minutes and seemed to transform the mood of the train. In those minutes something magical happened and it felt amazing.

I felt the energy of the train shift as they saw Santa in action. He was clearly real for the young man and the incident brought tears to my eyes as I realised how he felt.

To touch lives in a deep and meaningful way, if only for a moment, is something that words cannot truly describe. Many people thanked me as they exited the train and I received a big cheer as I got off at St Albans, wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. I returned home last night having people smile at me and even stopping to say hello. This is not commonplace for me in St Albans with people I don’t know.

For anyone who does not believe in Santa or the magic of Christmas I strongly recommend that you dress up and experience it for yourself. Today I feel better than I have all year. Yesterday I had some flu-like symptoms starting to manifest. Today they have gone and I spent most of my day in cold weather.

No amount of drugs, health care, rehabilitation or counseling will ever work as quickly as the desire to have fun, connect with people and touch lives in a meaningful way. I now believe in Santa and his magic all over again. I feel very grateful for the gift that my fellow free huggers, numerous children, adults and especially my young friend on the train home, have given to me. Santa is, and always will be, as real as we allow him to be.

I have not felt this good in a long time.

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