In the hopes of spreading a little Christmas cheer at the end of a hard year, Santa Claus decided to pay a special visit to Windsorites young and old this week, ahead of his big night.
"We haven't had much to be cheerful about, so I'm trying to put a little bit back into the world," he said.
Standing outside their temporary home in Windsor's Riverside neighbourhood, Santa and Mrs. Claus waved to children from afar, who came to see them in cars or on foot.
On Saturday, Santa said he was outside for nearly two hours and met with about 100 families from a safe distance.
To each child, Santa said 'I love you' as a reminder that someone cares for them.
Their reaction after a particularity tough year was the gift Santa needed most.
"Just seeing their little faces makes me feel great and a lot of them don't even say they want anything for Christmas, because I think they're just so mesmerized by seeing Santa. And the happiness that they throw towards me ... it's the best gift that I could get," he said.
"That's my present, seeing the children. And that's what Christmas is all about."
This week Santa even made some early gift deliveries, bringing presents to some children in the neighbourhood.
"To see those children's faces through a window, it's probably the nicest thing you could ever have as a gift to your heart and to do something for someone like that, for a child that's in need, makes me feel so much better than anything. Makes my heart grow three times larger," he said.
Santa said he understands that not everyone could get out to see him and that Christmas might look a bit different this year, with family gatherings cancelled — but he said no matter what, Santa is always present.
"Santa thinks about all of them," he said. "If you don't get to see him in person, he'll be there in spirit. He knows who you are and he'll be there. Believe me. Don't even worry about that."
He also had a special message for frontline workers, who have battled the pandemic head-on this year.
"Your family knows how much you've done. You're the heroes of the world. You keep everything going. Hopefully, you know that we all love you and that we appreciate everything that's done ... I'm sure one day soon we'll be able to have a big get together and it'll be like Christmas every day once that happens."
Most importantly, he wanted to remind Windsorites that this time of year is about giving and about being there for one another, even if we can't physically be together.
"If you have the means to help out anyone, do it. It doesn't have to be a lot. It could be just a littlest thing, but it's so nice to give," he said. "That's what Christmas is all about. It's a giving spirit and we can't lose that. That's something that everyone should keep in their heart, a giving spirit."