Look behind us, there's Santa!
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I was leaving the airplane and walking down the gangway when the little girl’s mother said, “Look behind us, there’s Santa.” I quickly said “hello” when we entered the plane and gave the little girl and her brother some “I met Santa Claus” Stickers. Mom and the kids had seats up front extremely near the first-Class section. Although they were about ten rows in front of us throughout the flight little heads were popping up and waving to me. Of course, our waving back and forth put smiles on a lot of passengers but I’m sure I detected a “Grinch” among the smiling faces. I replied to the mother's remark, by telling both children, “be good now, it’s getting close to Christmas.’’ To my surprise the little girl said. “I will, I promise not to bite anymore!” I wasn’t quite prepared for her remark, however, the mother standing behind the kids was giving me thumbs up and mouthing the biggest “thank you” I have ever seen. I had to chuckle as they happily made their way to the outstretched arms of relatives. When things of this nature happen I am reminded of the powerful influence Santa has on children. We are drawing close to the most magical season of the year, and we need to start polishing our “Santa Persona.” Remember, the child on your knee deserves to have the most memorable Santa experience that a child may have. Do you ever give any thought to what you look like, say, or do which will be remembered for a lifetime? Children are impressionable; what kind of impression is that child going to have of you? You are charged with an awesome responsibility that should not be taken lightly. Think about your performance as Santa. Do you quickly go through the motions with one child after another? I am extremely disappointed when I am hired for a social function and the client elaborates “We were so disappointed in last year’s Santa, He hardly talked to the children, and He wasn’t at all what we expected.” I have also heard of Santas who could not interact with the audience which made for a quiet party. If you are a reluctant Santa who is uncomfortable in a crowd, you may need to consider some improvisational or acting lessons. Portraying Santa is a fun job and if you are not having fun you need to find out why. Putting on the Red Suit does not automatically make you Santa Claus. It is the person in the suit who brings “Santa” to life and makes believers of all who see him. There has been a rush of men who wish to portray Santa, many for the reason they will make a lot of money. Yes, there are several Santas who make a nice income however, there are a majority who just cover expenses while some do this for the love of children. There is an art to being Santa gotten through experience, being observant, and attending the offerings of Santa schools or Mentors. When I say “Santa Schools” I am referring to established offerings of educational and professional instruction. I do not mean some those “Charlatans” promising how to mine the riches without learning the basics or ethics of portraying Santa. If money is your motive you have put the proverbial “cart before the horse.” Santas who are in demand have developed a clientele; they have made the Santa experience one to remember. In doing so have earned new and repeat business, commanding fees readily paid for their services. This season, let us be the best Santas the public will see. Let us make every child’s visit a memorable experience, one they will fondly retell to their children and grandchildren. Each of us has the ability to do this. Let us make this the best season you have had in bringing joy to each child; not in terms of how many jobs you can do. Remember, “It’s not about you, It’s about the Children.” Santa Lou Knezevich is the creator of the Legendary Santas Mentoring Program Contact Santa Lou at: LegendarySantasMentoringProg@gmail.comRead more
A Little Bit of Magic
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So many times I have heard Santas say they can’t perform or entertain a group of people. If you’ve ever said that I’m sure you believe it, but there are many things to help you to become a sought-after Santa. Most people are familiar with the story of the Polar Express. The boy in the story is taken to the North Pole aboard a train called the Polar Express. There, he meets Santa Claus who selects him as the recipient of the first gift of Christmas. He asks for a bell from the reindeer's harness. Listening to the tinkle of the bell the boy “believes in Santa Claus.” Unfortunately, the bell disappears through a hole in his robe and he is very disappointed. On Christmas morning one small box remains to be opened. When the boy opens the box there is the bell with a note from Santa who found the bell in his sleigh. The moral of the story is to “Believe” that anything is possible. Gather an adult and a few children around you. Ask everyone if they know the story of the Polar Express. Pick someone to tell everyone what the Polar Express is about. You then tell everyone you’re sure they “believe” but you have a “magic stocking of bells.” This is found at most any store. It is a simple hanging Christmas Socking in which I have sewn a matching fabric separating the front and back of the stocking Ask each person to reach into the stocking and draw out a bell. You, of course, make sure they can only reach into the compartment with the ringing bells. Make sure each shows the bell and rings it so everyone knows they believe! Now it’s time to have some fun. When you come to the adult make sure to close the compartment for the ringing bells and open the compartment holding the bells without clappers. When the adult pulls out the bell ask them to “shake it real loud, even louder.” I act dumbfounded because the bell they pulled does not ring. “Do you believe in Santa Claus?” you ask. I scratch my head and say, “let’s go on to the next person to see if this is still working!” Of course, the bell works for everyone else and going back to the adult I say. “I think you need another chance so let’s try again.” This time I open the compartment with the ringing bells and when they are pulling one out, everyone claps. This magic trick incorporates a bit of storytelling and takes very little practice plus; it has a big effect on the audience. The trick involves a special Christmas stocking that may be purchased from an online magic shop. The stocking is divided into two sections and by moving your fingers you can close or open one of the sections. I happened to find at the Dollar Store a gaily decorated Christmas stocking into which the magic stocking fitted perfectly. You will also need some bells which can be purchased by the bag full at stores like Michael's, Joann’s, or the Dollar Store. Separate the bells into two groups. In one group take the clapper (the little ball) out of each bell by carefully prying the end open. Carefully re-close the prongs of the bell and do the same for all the bells in this group. Before any bells are put in the bag slip a ribbon through the end of the bell to hold onto and shake the bell. Open one compartment of the stocking and fill it with a handful of bells without the clapper. This should be the compartment facing the audience. Fill the compartment facing you with the bells which will not ring. You’re ready to go! With just a little practice you can do this trick smoothly and to the enjoyment of everyone. Who said, "you can't entertain?" Santa Lou Knezevich is the creator of the Legendary Santas Mentoring Program Contact Santa Lou at: LegendarySantasMentoringProg@gmail.comRead more
10 Essentials to Being a Better Santa
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Here are some DOs and DON'Ts on being Santa Treat every child with respect. Never make fun of a child. Look into the child’s eyes when you speak to them. Speak softly. Children are sharing confidences with you. Acknowledge a child’s requests even if you don’t understand them. Never promise a toy request to avoid a child’s disappointment. Never promise a pet. Santas a toymaker and only animals produce pets. If the child can’t remember their wish list, assure them you know what they want. Never leave a child wondering if Santa heard their Christmas wishes. Every child worries about being on Santas “Naughty or Nice List”. Tell each child “You’re on the “Nice List.” It will bring happiness to everyone! Santa Lou Knezevich is the creator of the Legendary Santas Mentoring Program Contact Santa Lou at: LegendarySantasMentoringProg@gmail.comRead more
I never learned about the Santa Secret Handshake
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I was reflecting over my career as Santa Claus and how I may offer some worthwhile advice to those in their beginning years. Many years ago, I was eager to learn and naïve to learn how to be a Santa. I live in Atlanta, and I found a weekend Santa School being held locally. Sitting at my table was Santa Tom who also was a new Santa and across from us two Santas who obviously knew where the Reindeer Barn was located. Before the class started my curiosity [and naïve] got the better of me and I asked the Santas, “what are we going to learn today?’’ I think the Santa’s both had a wink in their eyes, pleased to answer my request. They both remarked what a wonderful experience this would be. In fact, they said, we would learn something in this class which we would never forget! As they leaned forward and quietly whispered, they said we would learn the “Santa Secret Handshake.” The weekend was loaded with information, and I took it all in while waiting to hear about “Santas Secret Handshake.” Well, I don’t think Santa Tom bought into this tale and as we left on Sunday, he laughed when I said, “I never found out what the Secret Santa Handshake, was all about?” Yes, I was gullible, and I have learned if it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t true! Right now, you can find just about anything by searching the internet, costumes may be found from the least expensive to those costing thousands of dollars. If you are a good Santa, one who has a heart, people are not going to see your costume, unless it’s torn or ratty. I’m stating this, as you begin your career you should be focused on how and what you do as a Santa Claus. Being focused, means, you transform yourself into acting and mimicking what Santa would do. I have always related my Santa role as if I were a big kid. That may sound strange to you however, being a kid, I can say and do things that children relate to and expect of Santa. I think the moral of this is I don’t talk down to children. They are my audience, and my job is to leave them with a joyful experience. I have a few ideas I would like to leave with you concerning appearance. One of my departed, best friends, had a huge walrus-type mustache. Occasionally we would meet for breakfast and his mustache would attract the yellow yokes of his eggs. It was also difficult to see his lips move when he spoke. I often wondered what a child thought as he spoke to them. It may be wise to trim your mustache to not make it difficult for children to speak with you. Santa is one of the most photographed people in the world. However, I am most disappointed to see bare wrists with wristwatches and rings showing. Check yourself over before you pose for pictures. A tubular cloth sleeve will discreetly cover your forearm, so no skin shows and it will blend with your costume. That goes for boot cuffs too. Don’t sew them to the bottom of your trousers as it makes you look like a clown. Keep at it as I know you are going to be the best Santa there is!Read more
A Night in the Emergency Room
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A few days ago I spent an evening, or should I say almost 15 hours, in the local Emergency Room. My symptoms were shortness of breath and a concern by my physician, to use the ER equipment to make a detailed diagnosis. My younger son drove me from my doctor's office to the ER. When we arrived, I was taken aback by the amount of people waiting or lined up to be seen by the staff. I did not realize how the COVID-19 virus and new strain had impacted the community. The average wait to see a doctor was at 8-12 hours however, it was more like 15 hours. At the time I did not know all the hospitals were in a crisis of not having enough beds to handle the patients. In fact, some patients were transported from my ER to another in the city. Unfortunately, they were turned back upon arrival as all hospitals were filled. My son and I heard much of the radio chatter from the hospital security who were close by. During our wait, we witnessed the terrible effects the virus had upon people and the suffering they were experiencing. Moans from those hurting were also part of the coughing spells. My hat is off to the hospital personnel who attend to the sick day in and day out. Our waiting for a bed and a doctor took us until 8:30 am the following morning. I’m okay and will follow up with my cardiologist next week. My thoughts are for the people whom I saw suffering through the night. I want to reach out to those of you who are reluctant, for a host of reasons to have a COVID vaccination. I encourage you to put aside your fears or reasons to get vaccinated. It could save your life and those who you love! You don’t want you to witness what I have seen in the emergency room!Read more
10 Fun Facts About Sleigh Bells
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10 Fun Facts About Sleigh Bells The ringing sound of sleigh bells is all too familiar around this time of the year. It’s the official siren signaling in the winter season. While a well-known signature staple on sleighs, Santa suits and reindeer, jingle bells haven’t always been associated with Christmas. They do much more than just ring in holiday cheer. 1. Sleigh bells or jingles bells are a type of bell that produces a distinctive jingle sound. They are in the percussion family of instruments. 2. The bells are made from sheet metal bent into a spherical shape with a small ball bearing or short metal rod placed inside to create the jingle sound. 3. Small bells were known in ancient times. In Sumer, Babylonia, Assyria, and Egypt they were commonly suspended from the trappings of horses, mules, and camels. 4. Centuries ago, sleigh bells were fastened to horses to signal the approach of someone important or to warn pedestrians of an approaching vehicle. Sleighs were unable to stop quickly enough so they needed a warning sound. 5. William Barton opened the first US sleigh bell company in East Hampton, Connecticut in 1810. East Hampton eventually became known as “Belltown” because it produced so many bells. 6. Sleigh bells, or jingles, are rarely used to produce specific pitches. Mozart, however, prescribed this in the third of his Three German Dances K605. 7. The song Jingle Bells, also known as “One Horse Open Sleigh,” is one of the most popular and most recorded songs on Earth. It was written in 1857 by James Lord Pierpont and was originally meant for Thanksgiving. 8. Sleigh bells were one of the first instruments played in space. In 1965, Gemini 6 astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra, smuggled bells and a harmonica onto their spacecraft and played Jingle Bells for mission control as a light-hearted holiday joke. 9. The affluent ornamentally wore bells as a symbol of wealth and status. 10. In old Pagan beliefs, jingle bells are used to ward off bad luck, diseases, and evil spirits. Today, some motorcyclists strap small bells to their handlebars to ward off road demons. Source: Miki Onwudinjo - Oxford University Press.Read more
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Reindeer - Rangifer Taranadus Taranadus (R.T. Taranadus) They are cervids from the root group Rangifer Taranadus that included ten species of Reindeer and Caribou. Two of these species are extinct and several of the Caribou such as the North American Woodland Caribou are currently on the watch list for species at risk. REINDEER ARE NOT CARIBOU! although they are cousins. Of the ten species of Rangifer Taranadus, generally three types inhabit continental North America. Two of these are native being the Woodland Caribou and the Barren Ground Caribou. The third is the Eurasian Tundra Reindeer that was introduced by the government to the North American continent in the late 1800's to replace lifestyle losses to the Inuit people of the North. The original influx of Reindeer were brought into North America across the Land Bridge from the USSR. Slightly more than 400 head made up the original group of animals that were walked into the North as part of this project. Reindeer in North America can be DNA matched to the original herd thereby confirming that they are in fact reindeer. While there are many reindeer in the North that live under feral conditions, there are no wild reindeer. Reindeer are acknowledged to be one of, if not the oldest, domesticated animals in the world with history of domestication tracing back between 5000 and 8000 years (depending on the source) They are listed in the Lesser Nine of the fifteen domesticated animals along with camels, llamas, alpacas and elephants. They were once referred to as the "First Meat of Man" and the animals is unique in that both in life and death, the animal is completely useful. As a live animals they provide transportation, haulage, velvet antler for medicines, and milk to name a few. In death, they provide meat, hides for clothing along with products that can be made from the bone and antler. Adult Male reindeer will weigh in at approximately 500 lbs while females top out around 400 lbs. On average they will stand between 8 and 10 hands high (1 Hand = 4 Inches) Both the male and Female produce antlers and they along with the caribou are the only cervid that does this. Antlers regrow each year with the previous years antler being shed from Late November through early May depending on a variety of factors. Male reindeer that are intact breeders will drop the antler anytime after breeding season once their need to establish dominance and attract females has passed. Once the antler has been shed the dominant male will usually become the most subservient member of the herd until the breeding cycle begins again the following year. Steers will usually keep their antlers longer into the New Year but not as long as the females. Bred females usually retain their antlers until the babies are born ensuring them preference to the best feed and leaving them with a level of defense. Antlers will begin to regenerate almost immediately but generally show a growth phase that lasts approximately 4 months. Antlers will grow at a rate of anywhere from 1/2" per day to 1 1/2" per day. Remember that the growth the you see on an animal ALL grew this year. Antlers, while in the growth phase are live tissue and are soft (think Fingernails). They look much like a padded coat hanger and are susceptible to injury. Significant injury to growing antler can result in death from hemorrhage if not attended to. Antlers are never the same but may have a general consistency of style from animal to animal they are rarely symmetrical. The antler grows from pedicules in the skull that firmly anchor the antler until its time to shed. Antlers can be broken or fall off prematurely but there is no real way to determine when and antler will fall. In feral conditions the reindeer along with other animals will normally eat the antler to recapture lost mineral. What is the difference between Antlers and Horns? Generally Antlers are annual ornaments while horns are permanent. Antlers grow from the tip and an injury to the antler at the tip, or involving the tip, may stop all growth for that season. Horns are permanent and not shed each year. They also grow from the base therefore an injury to the end of the horn, or removal such as blunting as used on rodeo bulls, does not affect growth. While there is often a visual difference between the structure and weight of antlers between male and female, that doesn't always prove to be true. Some sources say that only the males will grow a shovel which is a significant protrusion of flat antler off one branch pointing forward. The animals use this to break into heavy crusted snow when foraging for food.Read more
A Letter to a New Santa
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Dear Santa, You asked me about a few tips for your journey to becoming a Santa Claus. I’m more than happy to do so and I’ve written below just a few items’ which may have interest to you. Above all, becoming a Santa is an investment of your love, time and expense. I’m sure having Grand Kids and Great Grand Kids, plus raising your own family, has shown you the love for children. Being a parent is an excellent qualifier for accepting the behavior of children. As a Santa we see many children who gaze at us with awe struck eyes because we are the weavers of their dreams. Others, particularly around three years old, seem to love us until they are about three feet away, then we become their worst nightmare. Obviously, we can’t always do anything about it. Santa can’t understand every child’s reason for behavior; however, we may know when to try calming them or know when to leave them alone! In time, Santa can usually tell when a child isn’t going to give up their meltdown. He also knows a child in meltdown has an effect upon other children in the room. Meltdowns spread to other children like a grass fire. Remember, one child having a meltdown begets another child to have a meltdown. What you need to do, quickly, is send the child and parents as far away as you can. When or if the child can be calmed, allow them to return at the head of the line. If you don’t like kids this job is not for you. Imagine yourself in a Mall for ten hours, day after day, having child after child on your knee while you happily smile at the camera. The availability of Mall jobs are not around the corner from home. They are out of your city, state, or even out of the country. Yes, the people who hire you may pay expenses; however, this is an item you must negotiate with them. Consider also, you will be away from family during November and up until the Mall closes on December 24th. Some companies which furnish Santas to Malls may provide a Santa costume to wear while most others rely on you providing a costume. When you are out of town miscellaneous expenses or food may cost you, too. You may want to find a company which provides Santas for parties and special events. These Santa agencies do the work for you by finding events and hiring you out to them. Of course they charge a fee for their services which is usually calculated upon the charge to the customer. For many Santas who are reluctant to market themselves this is a convenient method. You must remember the client is the property of the company you are working for which means that you can’t solicit the account. This may be a good way to break into the Santa business and to find out what various jobs maybe. Friends, church and hospital are places you may find work or through a friend or a family connection. This is helpful for you as it is another way to start performing. Your church may also be a good place to start. I mentioned hospitals to forewarn you this is not an easy task. So many Santas feel the need to attend a child in a hospital bed, however, walking into a hospital room and seeing a child with a serious illness brings home the point of facing life and death. I once saw a little girl and I was lucky she smiled with me over a story I was reading to her. Within four days she passed and I was shaken by her death. Her Mother had a memory of that happiness, that smile of her daughter, which brought tears of joy to the family. Making hospital visits in reality is far from the movie version. In some cases you may need Hospice Training and a Background Check. In some situations you will only be allowed to stand at the doorway to avoid bringing in any germs. You may think it a great idea to walk into a children’s hospital and they will welcome Santa with open arms. Most of the metropolitan hospitals will refuse to allow you entrance. Remember, the hospital is charged with the health care of each child and the protection of each individual. Most of the children’s hospitals have used a Santa whom they have “checked out” so don’t be disappointed if hospital security turns you away. It is difficult to advise you at this point about what range of fees you should charge. I can tell you as a new Santa you will have a tendency to under-price your services. Don’t let the idea of “If I price low I’ll get the job. Yes, you may get the job today however; you now have set precedence for the future. As your Santa career progresses, you will establish a range of fees for your services. Your under-priced services of the past will be a constant reminder that you may be working for much less than you are worth. Yes, I don’t always charge for my services. I don’t charge for a few church groups who hold events for “Inter-city Senior Groups" and parties for mental health groups. I also donate my time to childhood cancer organizations. Making these individuals happy is something money cannot buy. Being Santa is not cheap. A good “off the rack” Santa costume will start on sale at around $250. From there it just goes up. My costumes are had made by a seamstress and a fashion designer. They are very expensive and before you go “custom made” look around and then decide what costume style you like. It’s never too early to search on line for “Santa Costumes”. You should find quite a few pages of websites to keep you busy for the day. Many of the prices from site to site are comparable. Be careful to make sure the pictures and descriptions are the same. If the price looks too good to be true, it’s probably not true. Some Santa suits are relatively cheap because it is a pullover jacket which I’m sure you don’t want to spend hours in! The Santa World is amazing and I know you are going to enjoy every minute in the “Red Suit.” It was not my intention to discourage you however; I wanted you to know a few things as you start your journey to becoming a great Santa Claus! Santa Lou Knezevich is the creator of the Legendary Santas Mentoring Program Contact Santa Lou at: LegendarySantasMentoringProg@gmail.comRead more
How do You Portray Santa?
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Portraying Santa is acting; it is a characterization of a mythical character. Most of us never think of ourselves as actors, but we are. Certain characteristics of Santa Claus have been handed down from one generation to another. The way we dress and conduct ourselves all follow an established pattern. Santa Claus is one of the most recognizable characters throughout the world. This came about from the advertising campaign of the Coke Cola Company and the creative painting genius, of Haddon Sundblom. Coke Cola was looking to increase winter sales of its soft drink and hired Sundblom to produce illustrations for prominent magazines. These illustrations appeared during the holiday season from the late 1930s into the early 1970s and set the standard for how Santa should look. This characterization of Santa with rosy cheeks, a white beard, handlebar mustache plus a red costume trimmed in white fur is the image most everyone has in their minds. Unconsciously people are going to judge you against that image. If your beard isn’t white or you have a soiled suit it will register with the onlooker. By the way, the majority of Sundblom's paintings depict Santa with a Brown Belt and Brown Boots. Not until his later illustrations did he change the color to Black for these items. Within the past few years many costume companies have offered the Coke Cola Suit and it has become very popular. You can tell it by the large buttons and absence of fur down the front of the jacket. No matter how you portray Santa, be it home visits, schools, churches, parades, corporate events, malls, hospitals we all make an entrance and an impression! The initial impression we make determines if our client will ask us to return. The 5 Second Rule I have a theory: When you enter the presence of your audience you have about 5 seconds to make people believe you are the real Santa. Think about that; 1-2-3-4-5 that’s all you have. I call it the 5-second rule because each person is going to put you in focus with the Santa image in their minds. If you don’t stack up they will not have the Santa experience they expected to have. People will be nice to you for the sake of the children but I can assure you they will inwardly be disappointed. What do you need to do to make a Santa impression? You need to dress the part. Now you don’t have to run out and buy a Coke Cola Suit but the Santa seen in the Sundblum paintings is the mental image in almost everyone’s mind. Make sure you have a presentable suit. I mean one that is clean and the fur isn’t matted down. I also have a pet peeve! Don’t sew your boot cuffs to the bottom of your trousers….it doesn’t look professional plus, you’re Santa, not a French Mime. Keep your beard and hair bleached white. People don’t like to see a Santa with a bleached out or yellowing beard. If you wear a designer beard make sure it is of good quality. Act the part. You’re Santa Claus. Actors make gestures and have very deliberate movements to portray their character. To make your portrayal more believable, practice gestures and actions before a mirror. Pick up tips from movies and books to add to your portrayal. Above all, relax, enjoy and have fun being Santa Claus. Santa Lou Knezevich is the creator of the Legendary Santas Mentoring Program Contact Santa Lou at: LegendarySantasMentoringProg@gmail.comRead more
Davy Crockett Fights Again
Black Hills Santa,
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Being country boys, my two younger brothers and I found ourselves outside 365 days a year. Each morning during the school year, before we would head off to school, we had to water and feed the animals before a quick breakfast and then departure on the school bus. When we returned home it was another trip out to the animals, dinner, and then that country landscape opened to us for adventure. On the weekends and summer vacation that landscape was open for business all day long and we took full advantage of it. Some days we would be fighting Soviets and other days we would be reliving WWII, either fighting in the Pacific or Europe. Sometimes we would be traveling through the area on our way to the Rockies to search for beaver pelts that would make us rich. Quite often we would construct ramps that would rival those jumped by the great Evil Knievel and we would patch each other up with words of confidence and lots of band-aids. The field across the gravel road that ran by our house was our baseball and football field, competing with the majestic beauty of Wrigley Field or Lambeau Field. To my youngest brother, though, that land became Texas and our home was the Alamo. Jeremy lived, loved, dreamed, ate, and slept all things to do with Davy Crockett. It didn’t matter he was a Tennessean and we were Kentuckians. Oh, no. Jeremy could feel in his very fibers that he was Davy Crockett and Buddy Ebsen’s character George Russel was right alongside of him. When Jeremy would go feed and water the chickens he could see Santa Ana wondering why Davey was sent to feed the chickens. Occasionally he would wave at old Santa Ana, just to let him know he knew he was watching him. Beginning in the fall of 1986, Jeremy, a wiry six years old, began to hound my folks about what he wanted for Christmas. Our father had been out of work from the coal mines for almost two years, but he and Mom would do their best to see that Santa Claus came to visit their three boys. Jeremy produced a short simple list: a buckskin jacket, buckskin pants, a coonskin cap, and a rifle: just like Davy Crockett’s. It was a short list for sure, but not an easy one to come up with. Deer season didn’t start until late in November and to kill a deer then cure the skin, then to sew the outfit before Christmas? That was almost impossible. During the fall my brothers and I would tramp through the woods that bordered our home and as possible we began to stock the freezer with rabbits. The were plentiful and we boys could scare them out in the open in a heartbeat. My dad had told me after Jeremy produced his list that I needed to keep my eyes open and if, during the evening while I was out roaming the grounds, if I happened to see a raccoon, I needed to shoot it. When I found out why, raccoon hunting became my newest and most sought-after adventure. About two weeks later I was looking into the woods from our front porch and thought I saw a rather big squirrel mosey down a tree and land on the ground. He looked like the fattest squirrel I had ever seen and upon closer inspection I saw his black mask horizontally crossing his face. I went inside the house and grabbed my .22 rifle and my brother was no where around. Dad looked up for his newspaper and asked, “What’s going on?” “Coon”, I replied. Dad’s curiosity got him, and he was on my tail as we progressed through the yard. The coon was walking around the outer edges of the woods and had stopped by our walnut tree to have a small meal on the leftover walnuts laying around. I carefully pulled up the .22 to my eye and went down to one knee. I breathed gently and placed my finger on the trigger, ready to bag my quarry. Crack! One flip-flop, a stutter, and a slump were all the coon had in him. “Ya got ‘em”, Dad exclaimed, happy as a lark. Now, my old man could skin a rabbit in about 1-minute flat, and I’ll be danged if that coon’s skin wasn’t nailed to a board and drying in about 5 minutes flat. There would be at least a coonskin cap under the tree in 1986 for my little brother. My mother, the female version of Columbo, who could sniff out a lie faster than a speeding bullet and who could track down a need item better than any scavenger in Kentucky, was on a mission. She kept out rotary pone burning hot from morning to night, asking everyone in a tri-county radius if they had any buckskin they weren’t using. Now the chances of her being successful were about as remote as the chance of a polar bear and a grizzly bear teaming up to have high tea at our house on a Thursday afternoon, but Mom was persistent. Finally, about three weeks before Christmas, tensions high that the buckskin outfit was not to be under the tree, Mom struck gold. An old man who ran a store catering to hunters in our area, that had closed shop in the 1970s had a complete deer hide that had been tanned and he would part with it…for free. Now, my mother is 5’ tall. Her legs are short, and I only remember her running twice: once playing a baseball game with us kids for fun and when she grabbed her purse, cigarettes, and keys to jump into our land yacht: a 1976 Chrysler Cordoba. With Bel-Airs in hand, my mother shot down our gravel road like the Devil himself was chasing her and about forty-five minutes later she returned with a dark buckskin and a smile from ear to ear. For two weeks Mom wore her fingers to the bones. She used a pair of my brother’s jeans and one of his shirts as a pattern and finally, just a few days before Christmas, sewed the last piece of fringe onto the jacket. It was complete. My father had sewed the coonskin cap, complete with a plaid lining taken from one of his old shirts. Jeremy’s gifts were ready, yet there was no rifle, a gift my dad had already tended to. I wondered how the old man was going to pay for such a thing, but he said, “Don’t worry about it”, so I tried not to. Unbeknownst to me my Dad's brother had taken a 1”x2” board and had carefully cut, sanded, and molded it into an official long rifle, just like the one Davy Crockett used. On Christmas morning my brother was beside himself with joy and glee. I can still see his face, his eyes wide and mouth agape as he held up his buckskin shirt and pants. It was the greatest Christmas gift my brother had ever or would ever receive. For the next four years my brother gave Santa Ana the toughest fight he had ever had. On some days my brother died as one of the last men defending the Alamo and other days he and the Texans managed to whip Santa Ana. Some days, though, the battle just kept going for hours and hours and hours. The cries of “We've got ‘em on the run, boys” and Pew! Pew! Pew! echoed throughout our home and yard from sunup to sundown. Today my mother’s cedar chest sits in the bedroom she and Dad have shared for over 40 years. No one opens the chest or would dare to do so without the presence of my mother. That chest holds items worth very little on the open market and most items hold no real-world value. However, if you were to crack it open and disperse the contents upon the floor, there, neatly folded with love and care, would be a buckskin outfit with patched elbows and knees and a coonskin cap with worn-out plain lining, the dreams of a young boy, Davey Crockett, and Christmas 1986.Read more
Category: Christmas History
🎄 COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS
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Santa Lou posted an article in Santa's Wisdom,Portraying Santa is acting; it is a characterization of a mythical character.
Most of us never think of ourselves as actors, but we are. Certain characteristics of Santa Claus have been handed down from one generation to another. The way we dress and conduct ourselves all follow an established pattern.
Santa Claus is one of the most recognizable characters throughout the world. This came about from the advertising campaign of the Coke Cola Company and the creative painting genius, of Haddon Sundblom. Coke Cola was looking to increase winter sales of its soft drink and hired Sundblom to produce illustrations for prominent magazines. These illustrations appeared during the holiday season from the late 1930s into the early 1970s and set the standard for how Santa should look.
This characterization of Santa with rosy cheeks, a white beard, handlebar mustache plus a red costume trimmed in white fur is the image most everyone has in their minds. Unconsciously people are going to judge you against that image. If your beard isn’t white or you have a soiled suit it will register with the onlooker.
By the way, the majority of Sundblom's paintings depict Santa with a Brown Belt and Brown Boots. Not until his later illustrations did he change the color to Black for these items. Within the past few years many costume companies have offered the Coke Cola Suit and it has become very popular. You can tell it by the large buttons and absence of fur down the front of the jacket.
No matter how you portray Santa, be it home visits, schools, churches, parades, corporate events, malls, hospitals we all make an entrance and an impression! The initial impression we make determines if our client will ask us to return.
The 5 Second Rule
I have a theory: When you enter the presence of your audience you have about 5 seconds to make people believe you are the real Santa.
Picked ByMichael Rielly,
Michael Rielly posted a topic in Latest News,The post-Christmas blues are a very real thing. Once the date of December 25th has passed the specter of December 26th is an ominous marker to many. It sits there on the calendar like the Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come. Silent and foreboding, the very image of the hooded Angel of Death it seems to be. And why not?
Just about anywhere you look Americans are tossing trees to the curb, ripping down lights from rooftops and radio stations are flipping back to everyday music. What took months to build gets deconstructed in a matter of a couple of days.
Picked ByMichael Rielly,
Santa Lou posted an article in Santa's Wisdom,Yes, I said it and it is not meant to hurt anyone’s feelings. I do view many Facebook sites along with websites and posted photos. Frankly, many of these postings should have never been put on public display.
Picked ByMichael Rielly,
Michael Rielly posted an article in Christmas History,Every New Year’s Eve at the stroke of midnight, millions around the world traditionally gather together to sing the same song, “Auld Lang Syne”. As revilers mumble though the song’s versus, it often brings many of them to tears – regardless of the fact that most don’t know or even understand the lyrics. Confusion over the song’s lyrics is almost as much of a tradition as the song itself. Of course that rarely stops anyone from joining in.
Picked ByMichael Rielly,
Michael Rielly posted an article in Literature,Every year around this time, some variation of this poem is circulated online. The poem is generally credited to “a soldier stationed in Okinawa” or more recently since September 11, 2001, “a Marine stationed in Afghanistan”.
However, the poem’s true author is Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt.
Originally entitled, “Merry Christmas, My Friend”, Corporal Schmidt wrote the poem in 1986 while serving as Battalion Counter Sniper at the Marine Barracks 8th & I, in Washington, D.C.
That day the poem was placed in the Marine Corps Gazette and distributed worldwide. Schmidt’s poem was later published in Leatherneck (Magazine of the Marines) in December 1991.
Picked ByMichael Rielly,
Michael Rielly posted a topic in News Archives,Backlash Building Against The Man Who Invented Christmas
September 7, 2017
There is a new Christmas movie headed to theaters this Christmas about Charles Dickens about his creation of A Christmas Carol and Christmas purists hate it. Already.
The film has a stellar cast that features the dreamy-eyed Dan Stevens as Dickens and the legendary Christopher Plummer as Scrooge. Here is the trailer:
“This is a very presumptuous film,” said Christmas fan and would-be film critic, Arnold Yates, via MSN. “Charles Dickens was great but he certainly didn’t invent Christmas. Bah Humbug!”
That sentiment is growing online as the preview makes the rounds.
Picked ByMichael Rielly,