"Christmas is for children," Mom said one year when she seemed to have little to motivation to sing "Joy to the World."

Dad went blind in 1971 and had to retire early from his job on the railroad.

That made me pause.

Christmas is for children? What about adults?

What joy is there in Christmas for adults?

It goes back to the Wise Men who brought gifts to the Child. Travel so many miles to see the Christ Child? Bring him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh? Why, they would do it over and over, if they could.

So, today, many adults follow the lead of the Wise Men and provide gifts for the children in their lives. Even children they might never meet through programs like REINdear.

Oh, sure, adults bring their gifts incognito, hiding behind one of the Christ Child's saints - St. Nicholas.

The real St. Nick is too busy at the North Pole to spend much time here in Montgomery County between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, though I have it on good authority he enjoys keeping an eye on local children . . . and adults . . . the rest of the year.

I have enjoyed a couple of stints wearing the red and white suit and helping the Big Man at Christmas time.

I was still in college when I first donned the fake whiskers.

I was visiting my mother's family in North Liberty. I was on Christmas vacation and my older cousin Bob told me there was a party going on in the house next door and they needed a Santa. Would I do the job?

"They know me," he said. "I could never fool them."

I was much lighter in those days but Bob promised to help by providing a pillow to fill out the suit. He also promised to recruit two other cousins to help protect Santa from overzealous fans.

We walked next door looking for holiday cheer.

I entered the house, with my elf posse close behind.

"Ho Ho, Ho! Merry Christmas" I shouted, looking through the whiskers and wig for the kids, who were nowhere to be found.

Instead I was summoned to the room farthest from the door.

I was given a chair and with no children nearby, the largest drunken fat woman I had ever met plopped down on my lap and began kissing my lips and face. She told me what she wanted for Christmas (I could never reprint her list here.)

After a few minutes of this adult party, I made a graceful exit. My posse was nowhere to be seen as I hurried out the door.

At the driveway, my elvish trio was having a huge laugh at my expense.

I have played Santa on at least two occasions since. Both times I checked ahead of time to be sure it was children who sought an audience with St. Nick and not just inebriated adults.

Christmas just for children? Of course not!

These days, adults need Christmas joy at least as much as their children. Who can blame them if they seek to escape the harsh reality of the modern world for a few hours?

Merry Christmas! May your burdens be lighter as you remember the one who brings joy to the world!

Frank Phillips is a retail advertising account representative for The Paper and has spent 18 years watching and reporting local events in Montgomery County and Central Indiana.