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You better watch out!

This post heads in an entirely different direction from my usual fare.

This is the last day of November 2011.  Therefore, tomorrow is the first day of December.  It also happens to be a Thursday.  On the first Thursday in December in Marietta, Santa Clause comes to town.

This is a big deal in my household.  It has always been.  Santa arrives on a vintage fire truck, circles the Square, is escorted past the throngs of eager on-lookers shaking little hands and kissing babies as he passes, and settles into his throne-like chair in the gazebo where he will spend the next three hours or so, weather not-withstanding, as he receives the inexhaustible  gift requests of the myriad of nearly overwhelmed children.

It is a site to behold.  For me, even more than the lighting of the Macy's tree (once the Rich's tree) at Lenox Square Mall (once very downtown, just around the corner from our Atlanta office) and even more than riding the Pink Pig high atop Rich's high rise, as I did when I was much smaller, the arrival of Santa at the Marietta Square has marked the beginning of the Christmas season.

Marietta has a population of something like 58,000.  Cobb County has well over half a million.  But it still feels very small town around the Marietta Square.  As I join in the revelry of the hot chocolate, listening to strains of Christmas carols coming from the joyful voices on the stage, over and over again I have the most joyous experience of seeing and re-greeting judges, attorneys, clients and opposing parties that I've had the pleasure of working with over these many years as they, too, bring their children and grandchildren to visit Santa and drink in the Spirit of the holiday season.  There is something very Bedford Falls about it all.  The evening fills me with the very certain feeling that it is a wonderful life.

So tomorrow at 5:00 prompt, Shelia, the boys (yes, I think even Bill will be joining us for the event though he's all grown up now) and I will be training or necks, listening for that fire siren heralding Santa's imminent arrival.  And though I think only my nine-year-old will sit on Santa's lap, I know my two other boys will be somewhat wishing that they still could.  They choke up, just like me, when matters get close to the heart.

And life goes on in the merriest fashion.  As Scarlett O'Hara famously stated, "Tomorrow is another day."  It's just that tomorrow, Santa Clause comes to town! 

Michael Manely

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