Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

Finding Santa

Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

Finding Santa

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes text stops here in original.)

It was mid-afternoon on a Friday and I was visiting with clients at an art festival in a neighboring town and looking for new prospects. Just a few more calls and I would be heading home for a nice weekend enjoying the spring weather of April. My cell phone rang and my secretary rather urgently informed me that my boss needed me to return to the office immediately. I tried to obtain details from her, but she just replied, "Drop what you are doing and come back now!"

It was about a forty-five minute ride back to my office, and all sorts of thoughts raced through my head. "Has something tragic happened to someone at work? Have we lost one of our major accounts? Is there a problem with the production of one of my jobs?" Upon arrival at the office the receptionist escorted me into the conference room where my boss was waiting for me. The receptionist left, quietly closing the door behind her. With absolutely no forewarning I was handed a letter of dismissal and informed that my entire department was being eliminated. My secretary had already been dismissed and I was instructed to clean out my office and turn in my keys by the end of the day. I tried to protest, not for my own sake, but for the hundreds of clients who needed to be informed of such an important decision. Offering to remain on board at no salary until clients could be notified was to no avail. I was informed the company would do that for me.

An entire career of working in the graphic arts industry as a fine-art reproduction specialist came to an abrupt end on that fine April afternoon in 2008. After almost forty years in the profession, at 60 years old, I had to go home and tell my wife of my dismissal. I was sick with emotions, ranging from shock to almost depression, not realizing that the emotional gamut would only get worse.

Ever since working side by side with my father (starting as a "printer's devil" at the age of 12) at Snider Printing Company in High Point, North Carolina, I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my dad. I would walk to work with him on days when school wasn't being held and would sweep floors, wash presses, load paper onto the machines, melt linotype metal and do any job that was given me to me. My first pay stub (which I still have) states my wage as forty cents an hour. I remember my dad giving me my check one Friday and saying, "Son, if you will take that check across the street to the savings and loan and put 10% into a savings account, and do that every time you get paid, someday you will never have to work again." I regret not listening to his advice!

My part time job at the print shop continued through my high school years, mostly during the summers. I also worked next door at my aunt's florist when I had extra time on my hands. My ideal life of working for the family business came to a tragic end on Memorial Day in 1962. Dad, who had never driven a car, was invited to accompany his older brother to Camp Lejeune Marine Base where my uncle's two sons were being released from active duty in the Corps. My cousin Bill was returning home to his wife who was expecting their first child, and cousin Way ne was engaged to be married. Uncle Fred was driving Bill's '52 red and white convertible that he had restored prior to enlisting. On the trip home, all four men were killed in a horrific accident on a road near Kinston, NC.

My life changed forever on that weekend. The rest of the year was like a bad memory that won't go away. Christmas came along that year and I spent a lot of time with my church youth group, mainly trying to keep busy so I wouldn't think about how much I missed my dad. Our class decided to have a Christmas party for a mission we supported, and they needed a volunteer to be Santa Claus. I was the fattest kid in the group, so somehow, maybe as a joke, I was "volunteered" to be Santa.

In a rented Santa Claus suit and wearing a cotton wig and beard, carrying a bag of toys over one shoulder and a scraggly cedar Christmas tree over the other, I bellowed into the Beddington Street Mission in High Point, North Carolina, "Ho, Ho, Ho-ing" for all my worth. …

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