It is not because I enjoy putting my Santa outfit on. I usually get a small room that isn’t heated with no place to sit or set-up. I go through the steps and pull on the big red pants over the bigger blubbery belly. I use my boot hooks to pull on my heavy black boots. Then comes the itchy beard & white gloves & glasses. The final step is a visual inspection so nothing is out of place. Now I am Santa. One thing that I noticed about being Santa, I never need to get in the mood. It just happens when I walk into a room or up on a fire truck. The magic of being Santa just happens. All of this is for other people to see Santa and enjoy the winter magic of Christmas. But I get much more than that. . .
When I walk into a room and kids of all ages run to see me for a handshake, a high five, a fist bump, and most importantly a big Santa bear hug it makes all the work and scratchy beard melt away like spring snow. Then the child’s eyes hook onto Santa’s and it lights me up inside as much as the excitement and wonderment lights up the children.
So I take my seat and prepare for “naughty & nice” of all ages. I always have a few stories to tell when I get up from my big red chair. One small girl about 6 years old couldn’t say out loud when I asked her what she wanted for Christmas; she had to whisper in my ear “I want my mommy to be happy”. Even Santa gets choked up on that one. Then there is always a situation of 2 brothers being a year or so apart. They can’t wait to be the first to tell me what they want, sometimes it becomes “tug of war” for my attention.
I am a “people watcher” so being Santa gets me a front row seat to the parents and grandparents who have brought the kids to see Santa. There is unconditional love in the eyes of those who are a part of their child’s life. There is also the sport of being Santa; the three or four year old that won’t come talk to Santa is usually around somewhere. I see it as a challenge to win favor with the child and have them eventually end up on Santa’s lap.
And finally I will finish with the most embarrassing encounter I have had. Several years ago when I was Santa at the Sutter Children’s Fair, I met a young boy that wouldn’t leave my side. He must have been there for an hour and a half. He even wanted to help other smaller children get up into my lap. When there was a slow time or between the next child I was drilled with every question a curious mind could conjure up. Where are the reindeer? Which one was your favorite? How do you get down the chimney? It went on and on. And if he didn’t get the answer he wanted there was a follow-up question requiring more detail. When the inquisition ended and the boy’s mother took him away it felt just like I got off the witness stand. But that wasn’t the embarrassing part. Later that day I ran into the young boy in a local drug store, and of course since we had such a long conversation earlier, I naturally began talking to him again. This time his eyes were as large as silver dollars and he was backing away. Then in an instant he started screaming and running down the isle to his mother. It hit me, I wasn’t Santa anymore, I was Brad. It took a few minutes to convince the mother without giving it away to the child who and what I was only hours before.
So “why am I Santa?” because being Santa challenges me, and it brings joy and humorous experiences to my life.