Our country is founded on the Principle of Freedom. The price of freedom is costly, and precious. Pause to remember those who have paid the Ultimate Price for you and I to be free. Recently, I spoke with a group of U S Soldiers that are here defending Freedom. They reminded me that Freedom is not Free. I thanked them and said, I honor and respect you for wearing that green uniform. Wearing green allows me to wear red. I am proud of these Americans that sacrifice every day to insure we are safe, secure, and Free.
I would like to Thank You for all you do, my fellow Santa Patriots, Wave your Flags and Banners, Forever in Peace may you wave-Happy 4th of July!
The American Spirit Santa,
Old Sante Claus
Well fathers day has past, a quiet day of remembrance for me as Dad is gone now almost 11 years. I was recounting to some folks I was talking about some of the things that I remember. Dad was a morning person up with the sun. How I remember all through my school years him waking me up in the morning. I did not inherit his love for the morning,today if it were not for my wife pushing me to get going I would still be in bed at 10 am.My dad however was a different story. He was up shaved eating breakfast all before we opened our eyes.He sang every morning I can still see him in the kitchen shining his shoes at the start of each day. I still have that wooden shoe shine box today.I remember the morning smells, coffee, shoe polish and the Vitalis hair tonic my father used his whole life. Funny how while he was here with me those things never came to mind,another memory was Saturday mornings, I always with him off to the hardware store.My father loved hardware stores as I do to this day. There was always some project my Dad had planned and we would be off to Atlas hardware. The owner was a friend of my Dad's and they spent more time talking then buying paint or nails. I used to love using the scoop and putting nails on the scale. Back in the day before Home Depot you bought your nails by the pound in brown paper bags. Then it was off to Beacon Dry cleaners for my Dad's shirts. He wore a white shirt and tie his whole life. We would get the laundry and it was off to Sam's variety where we would pick up this or that. My father was always overweight so the secret was we would go to Sam's where we would go to the soda fountain. Yes an old fashion soda fountain with big stools to sit on there were milks shakes, ice cream floats, hot fudge sundaes that is what we would have. My mother was not to know of this deviation from his diet though I suspect she knew ,perhaps tell tale signs of ice cream on my shirt would give it away.
I remember every Tuesday night my Dad had Army Reserves he was a Major and I loved to see him with his uniform and medals on. Then there was boy scouts,my dad drove me and the gang everywhere. He would hike into the woods with my next door neighbor who was scout master and end up carrying four of five of the nap sacks that were too much for the scouts to carry. He would help set of all the tents the walk back though the woods to his car. I can still see him in his army field jacket with that white shirt and tie neatly underneath wearing his signature felt stetson hat,not a cowboy one but like they wore in detective movies,heading off from our camp through the dark woods with a small flashlight to light his way. Sunday he would be back to help pack up and drive me and several of my weary friends home from our week end camping adventure.
Yes, fathers day is a quiet day of recollection and reflection for me a little sad perhaps but aglow in wonderful memories.
This week, Phil and I collaborated on a project for the Santa Claus Oath.
We decided to create an historically accurate Coat of Arms for the Oath. One of our goals in developing the Coat of Arms was that it needed to represent the eight principles that make up the Oath.
The eight elements of the Santa Claus Oath Coat of Arms are:
Crossed Candy Canes
Traditional Symbols of Saint Nicholas
Each element represents the following:
The shield shape is consistent with the time of Saint Nicholas.
The letters S and C represent the name of Santa Claus.
The candy canes symbolize the two legendary Santas, Charles Howard and Jim Yellig. The canes are crossed as Yellig's and Howard's paths crossed only once.
The lower part of the shield has the three acknowledged symbols of Saint Nicholas, the miter (bishop's hat) the crosier (shepherds staff) and three gold coins, representing the gold given to provide dowries to impoverished maidens.
There are two reindeer that flank the shield. One reindeer represents designer bearded Santas and the other represents real bearded Santas. The reindeer have come together in unity to uphold the shield and uphold their pledge to the Santa Claus Oath.
At the top and bottom of the shield and reindeer there are grapevines. The grapevines are an ancient symbol for the thirst and quest of knowledge.
Completing the Coat of Arms is a banner with "Santa Claus Oath" on it.
The colors of the Santa Claus Coat of Arms are the traditional Christian colors of Christmas. Red is for the blood of Christ, green is for the Eternal life in Christ and gold is for Christ the Divine.
I will seek knowledge to be well versed in the mysteries of bringing Christmas cheer and good will to all the people that I encounter in my journeys and travels.
I shall be dedicated to hearing the secret dreams of both children and adults.
I understand that the true and only gift I can give, as Santa, is myself.
I acknowledge that some of the requests I will hear will be difficult and sad. I know in these difficulties there lies an opportunity to bring a spirit of warmth, understanding and compassion.
I know the "real reason for the season" and know that I am blessed to be able to be a part of it.
I realize that I belong to a brotherhood and will be supportive, honest and show fellowship to my peers.
I promise to use "my" powers to create happiness, spread love and make fantasies come to life in the true and sincere tradition of the Santa Claus Legend.
I pledge myself to these principles as a descendant of Saint Nicholas the gift giver of Myra.
I sit here Mothers Day just past and Memorial Day just ahead makes one think about a mother who has passed from this life and how she inspired the love of Christmas in me. I spent a quiet afternoon on Mother's day at the cemetery caring for the special place where she has rested these many years. Planting a few flowers and some quiet reflection checking the US flag there for Dad. Many memories follow one as they leave the resting place of loved ones, but soon it was off to visit my mothers older brother 96 years old now still living in the same house alone some 40 years. He always has some Christmas item he finds at yard sales for me,he too knows the Christmas spirit my mother left behind. Interesting that my mother was born on Christmas Day, perhaps that is why the connection was so strong and passed down to me. The last Christmas with mom was perhaps the hardest as she was very ill and in a nursing home. Christmas Eve 1996 after my home visits as Santa in full attire I quietly slipped into the nursing home. Way beyond visiting hours I was welcomed by the surprised nursing staff and ushered to her room. I put a stuffed animal into her hands and she light up a smile I will never forget. She loved to see me in the Santa attire,this would be the last Christmas for her. Ten days later on my Dads birthday she saw all of us one more time before slipping quietly away. I think of this now and can even stand to look at the picture taken that last Christmas eve, though my mother would never have wanted anyone to see her in that terrible state from the cancer weighing only 60 pounds. Never the less I still look at it as a special last happy moment with her.So as we get past mothers day and go to memorial day another visit to their resting place will be scheduled this time remembering not only mom but the Major (Dad) who rest there as well. Another one who loved Christmas and yes beside the army uniform donned the red suit of Santa in my youth.
Today, my oldest son graduates from High School. Not only is he graduating with a good gpa and making a 21 on his ACT when he was sick, he is graduating a year early too. (He's actually been finished with school since February.) I've always said that I wanted to be known and remembered as a good man, husband, and father. I want that for my two sons as well. My wife and I still can't believe that this day is here. Not just the day of his graduation, but the days of him firmly stepping into the role as a man. Yes, he still has a messy room and doesn't shave as often as he should, but the way he talks about current events and his determination to finish what he has started shows me that he is on the path. I'm so proud of him I could burst! Will I cry today? I'm pretty sure that I will. Then I'll fret over college funds, etc., as we start down that path. Luckily, he has listened to my advice on college and wants to jump right in as soon as he can and not "take off a year or so" like I did. He wants to be a computer programmer/game developer. I have no doubt that he will succeed in whatever he desires to do. We've let him sleep a little late this morning. He just walked into the room as I'm finishing up this blog entry. He almost made me start crying when he says in his fairly deep voice, "Hey Bear.". I love what I see in him. The Beginings of a Man...
My mission is to serve as an Ambassador of Faith, Hope and Charity. Led by the Spirit to share the Gospel, give selflessly of my self, perform random acts of kindness; honor and cherish those less fortunate. I am committed to Faith, Justice, and Loving Service to others.
Santa James Edward
Old Sante Claus
I was reading some old emails from my friend and I found this writing he sent to me. Like to share it as it really says so much.
A Reason, a Season, or a Lifetime
People come into your life for a reason, a season, or
a lifetime. When you figure out which one it is, you
will know what to do for each person.
When someone is in your life for a REASON . . . It is
usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have
come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you
with guidance and support, to aid you physically,
emotionally, or spiritually. They may seem like a
godsend, and they are! They are there for the reason
you need them to be.
Then, without any wrong doing on your part, or at an
inconvenient time, this person will say or do something
to bring the relationship to an end.
Sometimes they die.
Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realise is that our need has been met, our
desire fulfilled, their work is done. The prayer you
sent up has been answered. And now it is time to move on.
When people come into your life for a SEASON . . .
Because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace, or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount
of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.
LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons; things
you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional
foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the
person, and put what you have learned to use in all
other relationships and areas of your life. It is said
that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.
Blessed Saint Nicholas,
we honour you for your acts
of kindness, goodwill, and charity to
those on the margins of life.
Inspire us with your desire for justice
and joy for all people;
help us learn from you what faith and
action means, and make us aware
of those around us.
Give us the same sense of joy
you had in your ministry.
And when we remember you
may we also remember the Lord
you loved and followed,
both in times of tribulation, famine,
persecution and humiliation, as well as
in times of joy and peace. Amen.
Canon J M Rosenthal
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 (12-ounce) can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 2/3 cups (28-ounce jar) Borden None Such Ready To Use Mincemeat (see note)
2 cups(16-ounce jar) mixed candied fruit
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
Additional candied fruit and walnut halves for decorating (optional)
1. Butter a 9-inch tube or spring-form pan. Line with parchment or waxbrown paper. Butter again.
2. Sift together flour and baking soda; set aside.
3. In large bowl combine eggs, sweetened condensed milk, mincemeat, fruits and nuts; mix well. Fold in sifted dry ingredients. Turn into prepared pan.
4. Preheat oven to 300*F (150*C).
5. Bake for 2 hours or until center springs back when touched lightly with fingers and top is golden brown. Allow to cool. Remove from pan. Decorate with additional candied fruits and walnut halves, if desired.
Makes 16 to 24 servings.
I was in Germany recently, and I stayed in Velburg, a quaint little town. The Hotel Zur Post is on the square and was built around 1668. That is the date on the church, built with an Onion Dome. Very typical of that region of the country. They serve the very best Potato dumpling with Beef in gravy. Across the street, there is a Bakery Shop that made the finest Apple Dumpling and Black Forrest Cake. What a great place to stay.
Later, I will post places I have been in Europe, about the city, sites, photos, and recipes.
On the road with ol' #98
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Passing The Tradition of Santa Claus Across Generations
Santa Michael Rielly of Rhode Island takes Oath for his famous Grandfather
Providence, RI (PRWEB) February 5, 2009 -- Michael Rielly, the grandson of Rhode Island's famed Santa, James D. Rielly, will take the Santa Claus Oath at Celebrate Santa on March 17 in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
James D. "Jimmy" Rielly's career as Rhode Island's most recognizable Santa Claus spanned over 60 years. He began his Santa Claus career in 1927 and was featured on several national television shows including PM Magazine. Appearing primarily at charitable organizations, hospitals, orphanages, and military bases, he took no money for his appearances.
Over the course of his Santa career, he received literally thousands of letters from celebrities, dignitaries, and politicians including letters from President Eisenhower and Pope John Paul II. In 1979 his name was recorded in the Senate Congressional Record as "James D. Rielly - A Truly Remarkable Santa Claus From Rhode Island".
After the passing of his grandfather in 1991, grandson Michael Rielly took over the role as Santa Claus. In his grandfather's honor, Michael appears at many of the same charitable organizations and hospitals his grandfather visited.
Hundreds of Santa, Mrs. Claus, and Helpers will be attending the upcoming Celebrate Santa Convention this March in Gatlinburg. Part of the opening ceremonies of the convention will be the taking of the Santa Claus Oath, which was dedicated last fall in Santa Claus, Indiana.
"We are very happy to have Santas that have wonderful family legacies attending the convention." stated Joe Moore, coordinator of Celebrate Santa. "Their families' traditions are all part of our history."
Celebrate Santa is an expo for Santa, Mrs. Claus, elves, and Helpers from around the world and features workshops, a parade, and an industry showcase.
"I know Papa would have loved meeting everyone at Celebrate Santa!" said Michael Rielly, Director of Media and Public Relations for Celebrate Santa 2009 and the founder of ClausNET.com. "He took the role of Santa Claus very seriously and would have been proud to be associated with such a fine group of men and women."
About Michael Rielly
Mr. Rielly has portrayed Santa Claus for over 17 years and is a third generation Santa Claus. His grandfather James D. "Jimmy" Rielly, began his Santa Claus career in 1927 and was recognized in the US Congressional Record as "A Truly Remarkable Santa Claus From Rhode Island".
When not appearing as Santa Claus, Mr. Rielly works in sales and marketing with over 20 years experience in Internet and technology related companies where he has served in various roles; founder, board member, and business development.
Mr. Rielly is also the founder of ClausNET.com, the world's premier Santa Claus social network and resource for Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, and Elves for the purposes of sharing stories, advice, news, and information.
About The Santa Claus Oath author Phillip L. Wenz
Phillip L. Wenz donned his first Santa Claus suit at the age of four. By the time he was fourteen he was in his first parade, and by the ripe old age of twenty-four, he became the year round Santa Claus for the iconic Santa's Village (www.santafromsantasvillage.webs.com) in Dundee, Illinois. An association he has now had for more than twenty years.
About Celebrate Santa
Celebrate Santa (www.celebratesanta.com) is an annual gathering and exposition for those who bring joy and happiness to children young and old through the portrayal of Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus. This annual event begins 2009 on the 70th anniversary of the very first official gathering of Santas in New York in 1939.
The three day event includes over 30 comprehensive workshops for those who wish to learn and improve upon their personification of Santa and Mrs. Claus. The in-depth educational sessions are conducted by seasoned Santa Claus professionals. Open during the event will be Santa's Showcase - a unique exhibition open to the public featuring thousands of Christmas and Santa Claus related products and services.
Launched in 2007, ClausNET (www.ClausNET.com) is the premier Santa Claus community for men and women dedicated to the faithful portrayal of Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, Elves, and all others who devote their time to bringing the magic of Christmas to children and adults throughout the world!
ClausNET.com is the Internet's largest resource and social network for Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, and Elves for the purposes of sharing stories, advice, news, and information. Most importantly, ClausNET brings people together to build friendships that help spread happiness to the true believers of Santa Claus - the child inside of us.
Michael J. Rielly
Santa Joe Moore
Well this season got over quickly as circumstances changed rapidly as my wife underwent two heart surgeries the first on December 8th which was supposed to be a day in the hospital which as things would have it turned into major open hart surgery. Thank the Lord she made it through, though we were all the worse for wear with worry. Canceled a number of my regular Santa appearances though I was able to continue my Christmas Eve visits on a smaller scale with the help of a friend to drive and another to stay with the Mrs. All and all I am thankful for her recovery and now look for her to get well. I will start planing for the 2009 season with the hope that I may be able to get to Celebrate Santa this March. Looking ahead there is all the decorations to take down and store. That is the worst time for me, I so enjoy putting them up, putting them away is sad and painful. Look to the new year with hope and anticipation, wish all of you safe ,health and prosperous New Year.
My earliest Santa Claus memory was when I was 6-years old.
I have always loved Lego. In fact, I still do and yes I still play with Lego.
One year I asked Santa for a Lego set. Back then they didn't have kits or models like they have today. Lego sets we simply a box with some total number of standard and specialty blocks. I remember that I wanted more clear blocks so I could make windshields for my spaceships.
Anyway, Christmas Day came and there was no Lego. There were lots of gifts: GI Joes, Rock Em Sock Em Robots, Tonka Trucks, but no Lego. I was really disappointed. I asked Santa for Lego in my letter and even in person. Santa came to my house a few days before Christmas and I told him then. How could he have forgotten?
The next day, December 26, my younger brother and I got up early and decided to go into the living room and pretend it was Christmas Day again. Since all out toys were still spread out all over the room, it would be just like Christmas morning.
My brother (left) and I (right) Christmas morning
When we went into the living room, there on the hearth of the fireplace was a box of Lego. At first I though that maybe I just didn't see it the day before. Maybe it was lost in all the other toys we got. But there on the box was a note. It was a letter from Santa!
I wish I still had the letter, but I don't need it to remember exactly what it said.
I found this in the bottom of my sleigh when I got back to the North Pole. It was so foggy last night that I didn't see it fall out of my bag.
See you next year!
My brother and I ran into my parents bedroom to show them the letter from Santa. My father growled at us, "Get back to bed!" and my mother simply told us to go back into the living room and to play quietly.
I don't remember what happened to that letter. But I remember reading it over and over again. The letter and that box of Lego is a Christmas memory I will always remember.
I have often heard it said by many of my peers in the red suit that the hardest things to do as Santa is visiting the children's hospitals and hospice house. Well, this year was my third visiting the children at our local hospitals and my first to visit a hospice house. Each year, Wells Fargo Third Party Administrators (Santa's Day Job) donates teddy bears to two of our local hospitals, Thomas Memorial Hospital and Charleston Area Medical Center's Women's and Children's Hopsital. These are the two hospitals where 99 % of all children are taken when ill. Of course, Santa and a small band of elves are responsible for delivery of these bears.
It really is the type of personal visit that I like to make, because the children all really appreciate getting to see Santa. I guess too it clicks with my Christian minister side as well. It has afforded me with some smiles and some tears, but each child is precious indeed. This past year, I softly stroked the hair of a 4 year old girl with cancer who couldn't even open her eyes to see me for being so sick. I was given a high five from a young fellow who had suffered another serious illness, but was thrilled to see Santa. I held 4 newborns, only hours old. I hugged a little girl with cancer that could hardly smile for the pain. Then I turned and held the mother of that same girl while she cried and thanked me. See what I mean about smiles and tears.
At Thomas Hospital they also have me to visit with some of the older folks who are there without family and such so the elves and I are tickled to oblige. We visited one woman with Down Syndrome suffering from a lung ailment who was thrilled to have Santa there. After a big hug and a few Christmas carols by the elves, she sat hugging her teddy bear which I had given her. You would have thought it was gold. Several other seniors enjoyed our singing, exchanging hugs and tears at the thoughtfulness of our visit. I reminded them that Santa is for children of all ages.
The came the emotionally draining part, the Hubbard Hospice House in Charleston, West Virginia. This is also the place where my father had passed earlier this Summer. You can imagine the feelings that came over me as I walked in. But all of my feelings of personal sadness and discomfort were soon gone as I went on to the duties at hand. I visited nearly every room. The elves would sing carols and I would speak with the patients and their families. Some were so sick that all I could do was hold their hand. In one room, a lady was watching her husband of 60 years slowly pass away. As I held her in my arms and comforted her tears she told me all about their love. In another room, a mother and father tried to get their son to open his eyes and see Santa. While holding my hand the mother explained that Christmas was her son's favorite time of year. She cried as she told me of how much he loved Santa. In another room, a mother on her death bed was being visited by her son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter. I hugged the young girl and gave her a bear and coloring book with crayons, and as I went toward the bed to say hello I gave the grandmother a bear as well and spoke to her about being a good girl. She smiled as big as Christmas, though she couldn't say anything. Her son had to turn his back on the scene. I went over and placed my hand on his shoulder in comfort. The elves and I went on in our tour. But as I was leaving that day I met the son at the door. He gave me a large hand shake and with tears streaming down his face thanked me for bringing one last smile to his mother's face. As I headed back to the North Pole, the tears flowed.
One of the duties that we have in this red suit is that we are ministers of hope to all the people we meet, no matter how healthy or sick, rich or poor they might be. We are ambassadors of Saint Nicholas, who was given a ministry of God to take care of the needs of those around him. Whether inside the suit or out of it we need to remember to do this. Truly, it was a blessing to me just to know that I was a blessing to others. The toys that I gave out will be forgotten, but the love that this Santa had for those folks I pray will never leave them. It is in things like this that we Santas do the most good. I pray that we all will strive to do more on this end to be blessings in red.
More to come a little later.
Well, it was bound to happen. Christmas 2008 will be the year I remember as the year I told my daughter that I was Santa Claus – or rather, to be exact, one of Santa Claus’s Ambassadors.
I guess I should be thankful I got this far. After all, Meghan is almost 11. My son made it to 12! He only found out it was me after reading a newspaper article that mentioned my name.
Back in 2006 she was wavering. I decided to see if I couldn’t get at least another year out of her. So I appeared in Meghan’s bedroom at midnight. I woke her up and handed her an American Girl Doll that she really wanted. I told her she had been doing really well in school lately and I wanted to give her something extra special for working so hard. She really wanted that particular doll and they were sold out everywhere, so handing her the doll made me feel especially like Santa Claus. I sat next to her on the bed for a while and we talked about school and her friends. After a few minutes I said that I had better be getting on my way and told her to go back to sleep. I wished her Merry Christmas and told her that I loved her. Meghan said good night and told me that she loved me too. The whole visit lasted maybe 10 minutes. But those 10 minutes got me another 2 years.
Fast forward to Christmas 2008 - a few days before Christmas my daughter was looking at a few pictures. Meghan noticed that Santa Claus’s eyes are the same blue as Dad’s and that Santa Claus has a tiny birthmark on his cheek – also just like Dad. She then decides to interview (more like interrogate) everyone in the family. With a pen and notepad she starts jotting down her “clues” and after a thorough investigation, she comes to the conclusion that I must be Santa Claus. Although she cannot explain how I go from whiskers to clean shaven and back again, Meghan was convinced that I was Santa Claus.
But Christmas Eve was the clincher. During the Homily at the Christmas Vigil Mass at our Church, Santa Claus made an appearance. Santa came out and greeted Father and wished all the Parishioners a Very Merry Christmas. He went on to discuss the true meaning of Christmas. Meghan and her brother were Altar Servers for the Mass. They sat only a few feet from where Santa delivered his Christmas Eve message. Later at the end of Mass after Meghan changed back into her street clothes, she and her brother met me at the back of the Church. As parishioners exited, a few of them would wink at me or thank me as they exited the Church. At one point my daughter was standing beside me when one of the Parishioners said to me “nice job”. Meghan immediately gave me a look and said; “I know why she said that!” I was caught. But I had a backup plan.
Later in the evening, Meghan put out cookies and milk for Santa and carrots and lichen for the reindeer. She also wrote a very sweet note to Santa. In the note she invited Santa take a little break cookies and milk break and to please give the carrots and lichen to the reindeer. In the note she also mentioned that she thought that her Dad looked like him and left a little area for a reply. Her note to Santa was very cute and Santa’s reply was perfect! I’ll have to post that next time.
Christmas morning came and Meghan ran down from upstairs. The cookies and milk were half eaten and the carrots and lichen were gone. She read the reply to her note that Santa had left on the coffee table next to empty plate of cookies.
From there she went over to her stocking. As she reached for the stocking, she noticed something near the hearth of the fireplace. It was a heavy gold button with “SC” in the center and “North Pole” over the top. Attached to the button was some red thread. She reached down and picked it up. She recognized it immediately. "It must be one of Santa's buttons!; she said, “It must have gotten caught on the fireplace! I'm going to take it to school and show it to my friends that don't believe in Santa!”
As you can imagine, at this point, I am thinking that I may have just gotten past another Christmas. But by December 26, the little wheels in her head started turning again. She decides to re-open her “investigation”. After several attempts to get me and her brother to admit that I am Santa Claus, she starts to get upset that we won’t tell her what she knows must be true. I can tell she is getting frustrated. So I decide to tell her the truth – that I am one of Santa’s Ambassadors.
I tell Meghan that I have something very important to tell her. But before I tell her I make her promise that she cannot tell any of her friends and especially not her younger cousins and that this is our secret. She agrees. I hand her the letter to me from Santa Claus. I tell her to open it and to be careful because it is very old.
As we roll it out her eyes widen. It smells old. It looks old. Clearly this was written a very long time ago. It’s dated December 24, 1971. It’s practically a relic! After she reads the letter, I explain to her how Santa Claus has a few men stand in for him when he can’t be there in person and that it is our job to spread joy and happiness to children.
I told her that now that she knows, she could come along with me as one of my Elves. She loves the idea! I asked her what she thought. She told me that it was “cool” that I was Santa Claus. She asked me if I had my own sleigh or if I had to borrow Santa’s. She also asked me if I get to go to the North Pole every once in a while to see Santa. Apparently she thought that, that’s where I was going on all these business trips. That one caught me off guard a bit.
After telling this story to my boss at work, he said to me; “So you got another year out of her, huh?”
When I was a boy, I only knew one Santa Claus – my grandfather. My parents never took me to see Santa at the mall or to a party where Santa was appearing. Every year, Santa would visit me and my brothers a few days before Christmas. We always felt honored that Santa would make a special visit to our house. After all, he always arrived with a police car and fire engine escort. Lights flashing and sirens blaring, Santa was usually accompanied by a policeman and my Dad (also a policeman). Santa sat with us for no more than 15 minutes and he was whisked off to another appointment.
To this day, my parents never sat down with me and said, “ya know there is no such thing Santa Claus.” In fact, when I moved out of my parent’s house at 19, there were still gifts under the tree and presents in my stocking from Santa Claus. No one ever told us there was no Santa Claus.
"No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood."
"Christmas came and Christmas went; Christmas this year was Heaven sent."
- Johnny Cash
As I sit here thinking back on perhaps my greatest Santa season yet, I am reminded of several events which helped to shape this year in particular. These are the memorable moments with children of all ages that each Santa is very accustomed to experiencing. It seems that this year I was blessed to have had a great number of children simply looking for the magic that can only be found in Santa. So, today I want to write about some of the happenings that took place at one of my bigger jobs as Santa, the Mall.
This year marked my second year as the Monday/Tuesday Santa for the Charleston Town Center Mall in Charleston, West Virginia. Each year the Mall puts together a theme. Since for the past two years the WV Division of Forestry has been a large sponsor for the Santa set I was placed inside of a cabin, complete with fireplace and Christmas tree, centered in a large display called "Santa's Frosty Forest." It is a beautiful set, and I am seated in a large red chair. However, the heat on the set was awful and on a few occasions I was forced to take a break from my work just to cool down. You see, although I was inside of my cabin I was also in full regalia. This brings me to a point I made with the executives that Santa should be allowed to wear his vest and shed the coat. But that is another story.
The memories began creation on the first shift of the season. I was visited by three small children and their mothers all the way from Paris, France. The mothers spoke broken English, but the children did not know any English and had never seen Santa before. The oldest was five years old. Well, it was an Edmund Gwenn moment which surprised not only the mothers and the children but also myself. I happened to have studied some French in high school and had a lovely conversation with the children. Sometimes the mothers would help a little, but it all came out wonderfully well. Happy parents, happy children, and a bewildered but estatic Santa. It is always amazing to me how things that you might forget about come back into play in just the right way when in the red suit.
He was standing in line all by himself. He stood smiling at me as I finished up the interview with the child before him. Noticing what I took to be a parent at the corner of the set, I motioned for the boy of seven to come up and talk with me. I asked if he had been a good boy and his reply was that he had been. So I proceeded to ask him what he might like for Christmas. He answered that he didn't want a thing. I questioned this. "Surely there is something you might like me to bring?" I asked. His reply has haunted me since, "Well, I was going to come and ask you for a family that would love me. But I got one last week." He was an orphan who had nearly lost hope of having a family of his own. He had decided that he would ask Santa about it. But, just as he had decided to do so a family had come into his life. He merely came to thank Santa for hearing his request and delivering it early. All I could do was hug him.
They were waiting in line for me as I came to the set one Monday morning. One of the sisters from Saint Anthony's Catholic school had brought a class of twelve to see me. She wanted a group picture. So, with two on my knees, eleven children stood around my chair. I noticed that one smaller boy was sitting on the other side of the set in tears. The good sister was reprimanding him severely. I asked the children why he didn't come up and they all began to laugh about him. I noticed that after my interview with the group that not only had the sister not stopped her reprimanding of the small boy, but that it had brought down the Marketing manager of the Mall. The manager tried to explain to the sister that what she was doing was wrong and that a visit to Santa was something to bring joy, even without sitting on my knee. The sister told her to mind her business and continued on. As the sister went to review the picture I noticed the little fellow stand and look at me. She had told him to stand there and not move. I could feel the hurt in his eyes. It infuriated me to see the young boy talked to in such a fashion. I couldn't let him leave without saying something to him, so I motioned him up. Here he came with a large smile. We had a wonderful chat, and at the end of it he huged me. Later it was told to me that the sister had asked for a picture of that, but the Marketing Manager stepped up and said, "No, that is his memory of Santa and you cannot have that." I felt like Santa had triumphed.
Those are just a few of the stories that I plan on telling you about. There will be more to follow. The one thing I do believe made the difference this year was that I had prepared my heart more for the things that would come. The people were ready to experience magic again and I was willing to be just that to them. As Ed Butchart said, "Embodying something to believe in is not for the faint of heart." I agree, but I think I was up for the challenge. You will here more about my sleigh ride next time. Stay tuned.
I worked the Polar Express last weekend. If any of you have worked a Polar Express you know that there is very little time to get through the entire train by the time you get back into the station. So the amount of time you can spend with each family is limited.
Well on Sunday, I asked this one little girl named Marissa if there was anything special she wanted for Christmas. She thought about it for a minute or tow but just couldn't think of anything. So I told her I would surprise her with something nice. She nodded and then I told her that Santa Claus loves her and went on to the next table.
When we pull into the station, Santa has to disappear. So I hide in the caboose until all the passengers get off the train and get into their cars. Only then can I come out of caboose. Just as I was getting ready to leave, one of the hot chocolate waitresses entered the caboose and asked if I could speak with someone.
I open the door of the caboose and there is Marissa in her father's arms. She was crying with her face buried in her dad's chest. The waitress told me that she was upset because she had finally remembered what she wanted to ask Santa Claus for and now Santa was gone. I quietly snuck up to her and whispered in her ear; 'Hello Marissa. Did you remember what you wanted to as for Christmas?" Marissa turned and a smile that lit up the entire room appeared on her face. She told me what she wanted; some American Girl Doll accessories and a Holiday Barbie. I looked at her dad and he gave me a nod. I turned back to Marissa and said; "Don't worry Marissa, you'll get it. Merry Christmas sweetheart."
Marissa's dad shook may hand and thanked me; "Thank you so much Santa."
This what I love about being Santa Claus.
I was thinking about this, this morning on my drive into work. Only a few months ago, ClausNET was less than 30 members. In a year we grew to over 400!
What makes ClausNET different from other Santa and Mrs. Claus groups? What is it that makes folks come here and keep coming back? There are other 'Santa Claus' groups online. Why is ClausNET different than other groups? Is it the software you are reading this with? Is it the graphics? Is it the Arcade or the Live Chat?
And then it struck me. It's not about the software or the graphics. It's because ClausNET isn't just an email group or an internet forum. It's a community. Every day I look forward to visiting the site, reading posts and chatting with everyone. I look forward to catching up on what everyone is doing. This is a place to hang out. It's a place where we can catch up with friends and meet new ones.
Thanks for making ClausNET what it is -- a community of friends and family!
I think her name is Lori
It was Thanksgiving morning and I was stopping by one of my favorite convenient stores for a bottle of pop. When I got up on this particular morning I decided to dress in my Santa casual clothes that consisted of green shoes, red pants, an off white shirt with a Christmas print vest. When I arrived at the store I was met with a bright smile from an old friend. Lori had worked at this store for several months and was always a welcome smile for my morning refreshment on my way to work. A few months ago like so many other friends Lori had just disappeared from this place choosing to take employment somewhere else. After a big hug I told her how sad it was to make friends and loose track of them, like I had her. I went on to wish her a happy holiday season, She extended her arms for another hug and feeling so moved by the moment, I kissed her on the cheek and wished her again a very Merry Christmas. I reached for my bottle of pop and started toward the door. When I heard her husband say to me "Now you've made her cry!" I looked into her now sad eyes and waved good-bye. As I drove away I realized for the first time how powerful the image of Santa Claus really is. Were those Tears of sadness or tears of Joy? I have no idea. I just know Santa had stirred an emotion in her. As a representative of the true spirit of Christmas we must all realize we are the hope and joy of all those who believe and have ever believed. I know I will continue to share the love of Christmas to everyone who will share it with me.
I read the following in the Syracuse.com website: My kids are starting to doubt Santa Claus
When my daughter turned 9, she began to have doubts. Most of the kids in her class don't believe. So, on Christmas Eve of that year I entered her bedroom at midnight with a prized American Girl doll in hand.
I woke my daughter and presented the gift to her. I sat on her bedside for a little while and told her how good she was doing in school and how she deserved this American Girl doll. At the end of our conversation, I kissed her on the forehead, wished her Merry Christmas and told her to go back to sleep. She held the doll tight in her arms, pulled her covers up to her chin, and said 'Merry Christmas Santa'.
That 15 minute conversation got me another 2 years! She will be 11 this February and still firmly believes in Santa Claus despite her naysayer classmates. After all, how can you argue with the fact that Santa Claus was in her bedroom! Ha!
I know she will find out I am one of Santa Claus entrusted servants soon, but until then, Santa Claus just happens to have Daddy's eyes.
Here it is November how quickly the year has past seems like I was just watching 4th of July fireworks and here I am putting away the whole array of Halloween Decorations we put up every year. I got a call from an old professor of mine from my college years was surprised to hear he is 97 the realizing for a moment I'm 56 a long way from that freshman at 18 when I met the professor. He is off to florida for the winter and I sit here and make my Christmas plans. Along with my to do list I think of years past and how quickly time passes as I get older. My folks are gone many years now my nieces and nephews are grown some with their own children. Uncle Santa will visit them Christmas eve as he did years ago in their childhood years.I think that the fall of the year with the leaves falling the flowers gone we remember those gone from us now. For me the holiday preparations bring be back in time to my boyhood home and wonderful parents and family. Getting ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas was a big deal in my family as it is for me now today. Thanksgiving signaled the start of the season,my mother had the whole extended family over . Two tables strung together to accommodate all the guests. I can close my eyes and remember all the wonderful smells of turkey roasting and pies that filled the house the night before, that same scenario would be repeated on Christmas eve.I still have that dining table, that for more than 40 years was the place of the family celebrations. Sometimes I look at that table empty now and for a moment I see the whole family aunts uncles cousins and my folks sitting around it enjoying the company of family on the holidays.So now I plan for the memories in the making of the season ahead, getting the Santa suit just perfect for the many visit to come this season and creating for many I hope, reflections of happy times for them.
I know it has been quite a while since I have written in this blog, and for that I am sorry. I do so enjoy spending this time with all of you. Santa has been very busy over the last month or so. Today, I would like to tell you a little about what I have been doing, share a few stories, and impart some small amount of Santa wisdom.
Well, my wife Michelle (Mrs. Claus), Toby (our dog), and I first went on vacation to Myrtle Beach SC. Before each Season we find it helps to fully unwind before taking on all of the unseen stress that being Santa brings. I highly recommend this and also a few days rest after Christmas if possible. We enjoyed a week of fun in the sun with all of the great seafood that we so enjoy. I don't believe that there is a Christmas shop that we did not go in while there. Of course, I left with a few new trinkets. Great buy on straps of sleigh bells that I could pass up. Yes, Santa was recognized by children of all ages. One evening as Michelle and I were heading down for an evening walk on the beach, I was greated by a little voice yelling "Hi, Santa!" I looked and there was a family parked next to the beach access ramp and a boy of five hanging out of the window of the family car. I waved, but could here the father saying "That's not Santa." I motioned to him to see if he would allow me to come up for a chat and he did. I assured them that I indeed was Santa and that I was on a little vacation. The family loved it. I found out that both children in the car loved Transformers and that they wanted them for Christmas. Both children promised to be good and shook my hand on it. Dad had no idea what to think and just smiled and laughed the whole time. I gave a great big "Ho Ho Ho" and went back to Mrs. Claus who also was chuckling. Hey, that is what we do as Santa. We bring smiles and laughter to a world of sadness. Everyone in that car was a child for just a few moments.
Upon return back to my home here in WV, I immediately began the task of completing my schedule for the Season. I basically work every day except Wednesdays and Sundays. Those days I reserve for time in Church with my wife and family. It is very important when you have a packed schedule to at least give yourself one night with loved ones. This year I find myself dividing my time between our local mall, the Charleston Town Center, on Mondays and Tuesdays, VisitSantaOnline for at least ten hours later in the week, corporate parties, house visits, and charity work on most Saturday mornings. I am a coordinator with our local Secret Santa Foundation and so I will be spending a great deal of time getting toys together. Yes, Santa is a busy man.
Another thing that I have been doing is getting things ready for my big journey on Christmas Eve. My wife and I have a toy ministry in which I go out on Christmas Eve and deliver toys to especially needy families who slip through the cracks within a three county area. Each payday throughout the year we set aside $20 to buy toys. Our basement is full! So far I have a Church that has twenty needy children and three deserving families to help this year. I will begin delivery around 3pm and project to be finished around 10pm. I will then pick up Mrs. Claus and head for my mother's house for dinner and presents. After that we have a few friends who have asked for Santa to come by through the night to leave gifts for their children. If I make it to bed by 2am I will have had a great evening.
Another thing that I have began to do to get ready for the Season is to begin a walking regimen. I work in an office as a rule and sit at a desk for 8 hours. It can be hard on the joints. Santa must be able to move around when dealing with the children, and I find that light stretching and walking helps. My course takes me from my office, down two block to the Mall, through the Mall, and back to the office each day at lunch. Attired in my usual red shirt and wearing my red converses, I do get the stares and smiles. I enjoy that. Just Tuesday as I was walking into Sears to see their Christmas trees I was stopped by the manager who was thrilled to have Santa in his store. He had to shake my hand before I could get back to walking. This is a great way for me to keep up my visibility and to also make a few contacts. You really never know who you will run into. You should see the stares I get when I enter the toy stores and pass the cookie stores:)
I guess the main thing that I can pass to everyone is this, relax and have fun. We are getting ready to go into the busiest time of our year and as Santa we have to be at the top of our game. Besides exercise, eating right, taking vitamins, and getting sleep, we first and foremost need to clear our minds and hearts of junk that can distract us from being able to give every child both young and old the experience that they deserve with Santa. Each person who sees us has a dream of Santa and it is up to us to make that dream come true. When we are relaxed and are having fun, then we can achieve just that. I am looking forward to a busy, yet fun and rewarding Season and I hope you are too. So, let's get ready to get out there and be the best Kringle we can. Good luck!
Glad Tidings and Much Love always,
Santa John Johnson in WV
Well it has been a while since I came here and added some information. Following the past week here in Edson, with the murder of a 14 year old girl, who was my Pastor's daughter, I gained some valuable insight into a blog. Pastor Terry has one and it was the focus of attention from around the world as the news of his daughter got out. Last time I looked there were around 400 entries. I know that Pastor and family cherished all the comments left.
So what do I do now with my writings?
The upcoming Christmas season is going well. I have 3 in-store sessions in the Santa chair for about 4 hours each. There is the community hall Christmas Party that I attended last year. There is a seniors lodge tea to attend for 2 hours.
I have at the present 2 corporate children's Christmas parties booked with the possibility of at least 2 more. They just can't get their acts and dates together.
Also booked is a Friday afternoon at the local movie theatre as Santa meets with the children following a Chamber of Commerce sponsored movie and treats. And speaking of the Chamber, yes Santa Edson will be bringing up the rear of the annual Christmas Parade. It's a Chamber function and I volunteered to be their Santa this year, mainly for the exposure, which may help for remaining dates this year but should be good for next year.
That's enough rambling for now. I have infection problems with both of my replaced knees, well skin infections and am working to get that cleared up. I'll update next time.
One thing I'm fighting here is the "competition". Well the local Kinsmen club. They have been providing a Santa especially on Christmas Eve home visits for 36 years, free of charge. Of course some of them also get to sit in on other private functions because of that, again as a Kin function. Some of the businesses I tried to book last year came back with the retort " I'll get a Kinsmen instead". However they are getting older and not as many volunteer to give up their family events to be Santa. So I'll play this one by ear and just do the very best I can wherever I am booked.
It is because of this I have adjusted my professional fees to be basically $50.00 an hour. I know I can always raise it in a year or two but for this year.... The only extra charge I make is the first hour is $75.00 so that I have the extra $25.00 which the local dry cleaner charges to clean my suits. Funny how some people even balk at that fee.
My home vists are also $50 each and usually last up to 1/2 hour. My Christmas Eve price is $75 and that for 15minutes as Santa is very busy that night. I had 2 home visits last year. We'll see what come up this year.
Some things that are positive for this year is the fact that I now have 3 Santa suits, all velvet with faux fur. They are basically the Rubies models but that's good enough for now. Until I get to the point where I can be busy most of the time and get the dollars to warrant it, I'll stay away from a custom suit. I improved the whiskers from the basic Rubies set to a 3-piece Laceys, the 007 model. I have boots, not those cover-ups. I have a belt, not those plastic ones, but not high quality leather yet. Once again...$
That's enough rambling for this time. I'll update more next time around. Right now I'm busy trying to clear up skin infections on both of knees that were replaced this year. It has me worried and I don't want to be. Was looking forward to getting back to my WalMart job, but that may have to wait. It's getting a little tight on the wallet right now.
Til next time.
I am here in Peru, IL for the Midwest Santa's The Santa and Mrs. Claus Christmas Workshop. So I thought I would provide a day-by-day account.
I arrived in Chicago O'Hare around 11:00AM and the drive to Peru was about 2 hours. After a stop by the local Starbucs, I spent the rest of the afternoon preparing my presentations. I'll post my presentations here next week.
Later, I met Phil Wenz and his wife for dinner. We had a wonderful time! Pizza and beer. Good combination!
I'm looking forward to tomorrow's presentations!
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