With his white beard and a twinkle in his eye, Elmer Abbas bears a striking resemblance to a certain jolly old elf.
Over the years, the retired special education teacher has had thousands of kids sit on his lap during public appearances of St. Nick, but fate would cause him to cross paths with one of them again years later, in a most unexpected way.
When Elmer's daughter Liz and her boyfriend Chris Burd got engaged last year, Chris' mother went through some old pictures for a Christmas scrapbook.
She was surprised to discover of Chris, when he was just 13-years-old, sitting on the lap of the man who was about to be his father-in-law.
"I was in shock knowing he's from Buffalo being down in Maplewood never would have thought that. crazy feeling made it feel like a small world," Chris said.
Chris, who has just moved here from Ohio, says he only went to visit Santa because he has a 3-year-old sister who wanted to go.
And what are the chances he would meet his future father-in-law for the first time, during Elmer's first and only year as a mall Santa?
"I'm such a daddy's girl. So I like to be able to look at the picture and just think that's my dad and my future husband," Liz said. "My dad met him first; that's kind of sweet."
Liz also took a picture on her father's lap that year, and the couple displayed both photos at their September wedding.