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Ghost of Christmas Past doesn't haunt Santa Walt

Published: Dec. 14, 2015 at 4:45 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 28, 2016 at 9:55 PM EST
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Walt Queen in 1990 (Source: WAVE 3 News archives)
Walt Queen in 1990 (Source: WAVE 3 News archives)
Jackie Queen (Source: Family photo)
Jackie Queen (Source: Family photo)
Jill Queen (Source: Family photo)
Jill Queen (Source: Family photo)

LOUISVILLE, KY  (WAVE) - Santa Claus is an entertainer, photographer, distributor, regulator, interpreter, interviewer, and negotiator.
 
"What do you want for Christmas?" Santa asked a boy on his lap at Bass Pro Shops.

[TUESDAY NIGHT AT 11: WAVE Country archaeologist part of the Star Wars team]
 
"I want a real toy and a gun," the boy responded.
 
"I don't know about the gun, but I'll get you a toy," Santa said.
 
Everybody wants something from Santa Claus. But what does Santa want for Christmas?

Nobody ever asks that question. Walt Queen had two precious gifts, and he wants them back. They were taken away from him on August 10, 1989, on Interstate 65 downtown.
 
A speeding trucker crashed and hurled a load of improperly secured cars into oncoming traffic. Walt Queen's 18-and-20-year-old daughters never had a chance. In 1990, as the man who caused the crash sat in court convicted of reckless of homicide and awaiting a prison sentence, Queen made a stunning announcement in the courtroom: "Today my wife and I release you. We are not angry at you. We do not hate you. We forgive you."

During a recent interview in his living room, Queen said, "Had we not done that, I believe anger, bitterness would have consumed us."

Then, long before Queen would play a store Santa and field requests all day, he asked for something.

Walt Queen asked the judge to give the man who killed his daughters probation instead of prison time. The judge granted Queen's wish.

"That was liberating for us," Queen said. "We did that for ourselves, not for him. How can we pray 'forgive us our trespasses' if we don't know how to forgive others?"

You might think it would be hard to hoist daughters onto your lap after yours were taken away.

Or it might make you a better Santa.

"Probably the loss of my girls, the longing for them to be present, sadness of not know our grandchildren has increased my capacity for compassion," Queen said.

Walt Queen is living the most famous Christmas movie ever made. Every day, he's visited by three spirits: The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present, And The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

"Our daughters - for me, at least - are no longer in our past," Queen said. "Their memories are in our past, but they are in our future. They're a part of the great cloud of witness that surrounds us. That's my hope."

Long ago, Santa Walt learned life can surround us with sorrow. But if we find a way to smile, even when we don't feel like it, good things will come.

"I still try to practice forgiveness."

Copyright 2015 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.