My wife once asked me why I'm so crazy about Santa. Well, I told her that goes way back to my chidhood and I just never grew out of it like so many people do.
First, Christmas to me is absolutly the most wonderful time of the year, I love it. I love the lights, the song's, the food, the giving of gift's, etc.... but what I love the most is celebrating the birth of Jesus my Savior. He is the ultimate gift !
Now Santa to me just inbodies everything about Christmas that I love. I've always believed in Santa and what he means to so many people all around the world. When I am Santa I love to see the the smiles and the love and hope in the children's eye's. When I was a child I remember my heart beating with excitement as I waited to see and talk to Santa.
During the Christmas season I'll walk through different malls, stores, ect... to watch Santa's interacting with their visitor's just to relive in my mind those times when I visited Santa when I was a child.
I think I knew from an early age that one day I would put on the red suit myself. The first time I "dressed" up as Santa I was about thirteen, I think. I made a suit out of everything I could find. An old jacket and red pajama bottoms became my suit and I ripped the stuffing out of an old sleeping bag to fashion a beard and mustache to finish the look. My mom took pictures but I have no idea where they are now.
In 2003 I decided it was time to finally become Santa. It was Christmas eve and I arrived at our house and suprised my son, it was a great moment when he greeted me at the door with his mom. He was in total shock ! He just stood there and stared at me in disbelief, it truly was a great moment. Eventually I did get to enter the house to visit with him and give him and his older sister a gift. Needless to say after that I was totaly hooked and now I just want to continue to be all I can be to my family and others as I portray tne jolly old elf
Well today is December 21,2007 and I made an important visit today,not as Santa but as myself but with Santa in my heart. I went to visit my Uncle who is 94 years old and still lives on his own in the same house he bought after returning from WWII. Well as I arrived the house was snow covered the driveway not plowed as he does not drive anymore.The front gate slighty adjar frozen in ice and snow for the foreseeable future only a few footprints on the stairs covered in snow from the last three storms.I quickily unloaded my car with the things I had brought.As usual ther were no signs indicating the Christmas holiday at his home.My first trip up the snowy stairs I carried a beautifully decorated real Christmas wreath and quickly fastened it to the hook on the door where for more years than I can remember I have come by and hung the wreath.The fresh smell filled the porch. Then it was back to the car for the small artificial tree I had brought. No sooner did I come up the stairs ther was my Uncle waiting to see me.I could tell he was grateful just for the company. When you reach 94 and you are still opertaing on your own as my uncle tells me most of your friends including the younger ones are dead. He frequently mentions some of the younger friends who died (most in their seventies) he seems anoyed that they have gone and left him. Well back to the car for a new reading lamp for him and 20 pound of ice melt for his stairs. I spent a few minutes shoveling them off and putting out the ice melt. Then it was inside to set up the small tree in the rather dark and cluttered living room. I set up the lamp and the small tree gets it place of honor by the front door.Every year I bring a small tree of one kind or another and they are usually still up at Easter. Well this year I brought a small fiber optic tree which lights in a magical aray of color as do the ornaments. After he marveled at the rainbow of color he seemed concerned about the heat from all those lights on the tree.After showing him there was only a tiny 12 volt bulb as the source of this rainbow of color I was sure he still did not understand what fiber optics were about.We we sat there in the darked room surrounded by the past recalling years ago and the many stories and good time we all had together all the time watching this small tree fill the room with light. Alas now most of the folks we talked about this cold afternoon are gone from us now including my Aunt gone over 40 years. We sat and enjoyed the long remberences of Christmases past. Before it was time to go I gave him a card putting in a couple of hundred bucks. He did not want the money my visit and the few things I brought were more than enough he said. I insisted making the point that heating oil is up to $3.40 a gallon and Social security does not buy what it used to. We left at the door both happy for the time together, precious time actually especially for one who is spedning his 94th Christmas at home.One thing he said as I left was how he missed my mother ( his baby sister,gone now 11 years) for she was born on Christmas. I said I miss her too every day as I headed for the car with a lump in my throat. I sit here at home tonight figuring out my Christmas eve Santa schedule and I want to say to you all if you have an elderly relative or friend take and hour out of your schedule and pay them a visit over the next 3 days.It is far better than any shiny present you can find under a tree.
Last weekend I did The Polar Express in Newport, RI. What fun! The first day was a little unorganized but they managed to pull it together by the second day. The biggest problem I had was the heat! The train was over 80 degrees! Even the passengers were complaining. What a test for the cool vest! But even the cool vest couldn't keep the spirit glue from literally melting! By the end of the night I was passing out bells with one hand and holding my whiskers on with the other.
The Newport, RI Polar Express is a little different than other Polar Express events in the fact that there is a Mrs. Claus on board! I never worked with a Mrs. Claus before and wasn't sure what to expect. We sure had a lot of fun though! Mrs. Claus was a real professional! I really enjoyed working with her! She warmed up the crowd for Santa's arrival to each car by singing Christmas carols and playing the violin. Before she moved on to the next car we spent a few minutes ad-libbing with the crowd. We had a great rapport going on! You would have thought we were married for 1,500 years or so!
The best part about this event though, was the children! Everyone appeared to be having a wonderful time! Even the adults were wide-eyed when Santa asked them if they had been good this year.
I sure hope they ask me back next year!
Each year, I try to add or improve something to my Santa persona. A few years ago Cliff "Poppy Claus" Snider told me about his Santa prayer book and I thought it was a wonderful idea. Here's my Santa mini-book.
Well, Halloween is behind us a fun night for the 189 goblins that paid us a visit. One question was repeated several times by the Mom's supervsing the goblins' "When is that Santa and Sleigh going up?"Well soon, the reindeer all eight of them will soon be brought down from the storage attic in the garage and I will touch the paint as needed. I have already bought some new floodlights and holders(they are impossible to find after the second week of December) Why new flood lights for the display you ask because the grinch came by last December 20th and took all five of them including the extension cords/. I hope they went to good use.Well anyway I was checking out the live christmas trees in the yard and figuring on how many more lights I need this year. Im looking at a new prelit tree this year for the living room,lots to choose from.All of the stores have the decorations up for sale now. The season begins,at last.I waited all year and its almost here.
A couple of weeks ago I had a few days off,my wife and her sister took my sisters grandchildren off to Disney.I went to the attic to reterieve the many Halloween decorations stored up there. Looking around in a dimly lit attic I noticed I was surrounded by Christmas. So many things that have come my way over the years not each thing sees downstairs every year. Some things are rotated over several years.I noticed sitting in a clear plastic bag a stuffed Santa all of two feet tall looking back at me. I drifted back in my memory of some fifty years ago when at the age of five I saw that very Santa doll in Woolworth's Five and Dime I remebered how big a two foot santa of red plush and the face of the Coca Cola Santa looked to a boy of five.It brought back warm memories of my grandmother who when I told her about this big Santa I had seen said to my grandfather "Billie give Tommy five dollars to get that Santa" Well I could not get my mother to drive that 55 Buick fast enough to buy Santa.For fifty years now over many addresses I have lived that Santa holds the Christmas memories and anticipation of Christmas for me. Every year I bring him out carefully unwrap him and sit him in a wooden sleigh I bought and give him a place of honor in front of one of my Christmas trees. I have carefully preserved this little guy kept him clean and neat. He holds dear the many happy Christmas memories of Christmases past and those grandparents, parents and family who are alas now gone from us.
Well for me since I was a small boy as soon as the Halloween decor is stored my thoughts turn to Christmas.Being a child in the fifties Christmas was never rushed the way it is today. It would be unheard of to see a Christmas tree before Thanksgiving I saw the first one for sale in September this year.But in my house tradition ruled. Christmas decorations were put up the day before Christmas and were up until January 6th.Being addicted to Christmas at such an early age and comming from a home where tradition rules,made waiting all that much harder.To break the ice my father would bring down the boxes of Christmas lights about two weeks before Christmas always on a Sunday afternoon. This annual ritual of pulling out all the strings of large bulbed lights and the window candles for a test was an exciting time for me.Back in the day the candle holders in the front windows had I think had about six lights. In those days if one burned out they all went out so testing to find the burned out bulb was a chore.It was a great delight for a child to find the bad bulb and get the lights going. The next couple of weeks were agonizing with the anticipation of the the big day. The next big event was going to the tree lot for the tree and wreath, usually the Saturday before Chrismas. Each day that tree would stand in the stairs to the cellar in a bucket of frozen water waiting to make its grand apperance on the 24th. One thing that made waiting all the harder was more and more people were putting up the decorations earlier. Fake trees were comimg into use and I suspect that it gave rise to earlier appearance of the tree. My mother who was born on Christmas saw how the anticipation was affecting me so she got me a small white feather table top tree to put in my room. With one string of lights and some glass decorations it was the greatest thing I thought. My father would look at this white tree and say "Only God can make a tree" that was Ok as long as I had this little tree to bind me over until the 24th arrived. Another big event was the visit to Remick's department store to visit Santa and get the photo (black & white)it was the fifty's after all. There was a Christmas parade downtown. the cubscout party.Dad was Santa, Christmas events at school ( it was politically correct to have Christmas Events in the 50's). The big day arrived when the tree would come into the house,my mother running around moving everything that might get broken.Then the ritual of sawing the bottom of the tree,clippng some off the top and my fathers annual fight getting the tree into a very old metal tree stand. Once that was done and the debate over which was the best side of the tree to face the room. The best part was lights and decorations. My dad did all the lights as we stood back and admired his work. Then came the glass ornaments ,we all helped. My dad saved the top for a very special Santa light my folks bought in the 40's. I have it today. A small Santa holding a buble light.Once the ornaments were on the finale was the tinsle. made of lead back then. The lights went on and my mother and dad and my sister and I would stand back and admire the magic of it all.So when Halloween is over this week the anticipation begins for me. I will check my lights,bring out a few items and start getting ready.Unlike those days gone by I am a early decorator The Friday after Thanksgiving the first of several trees in my home goes up. That little light up Santa that graced the tree tops of my youth gets center place in the middle of the wreath over my fireplace. I will sit and look at that Santa and the memories of Christmas past will fill my heart with anticipation as it did so many years ago.
Christmas 2001 was by far the toughest when it came to answering Santa's mail.
Thousands of emails to Santa poured into My Merry Christmas.com by kids and adults concerned over the events of 9/11. But no letter touch me so thoroughly as the letter received from the little boy who lost his mother in the World Trade Center.
"My mom died on September 11, 2001", Brandon stated in his letter. "All I want for Christmas is to get her back. Why did she have to die in the building, Santa?"
I consulted a few folks on that one. Santa gets letters of a personal nature all the time. But how do you deal with a broken heart in one so young? What can be said? How can you possibly help?
It made me think of my own children, of course. If they were to lose me or their mother -- were there actually words from a stranger that would help?
I was convinced it could be done. I was convinced should be attempted. And I was terrified to even try.
Fortunately, the boy's submission came from his father's email address. In working as Santa online there are some advantages that you might have over those Santas who have a sad child on their lap. In this case, it was an email address of a parent. I wrote to the boy's father my expression both my sympathy and concern. And I asked how Santa could help.
For many weeks after I sent the email I heard nothing. I started to wonder if I had made a mistake. But then one day shortly after Thanksgiving I received a very gracious note. Brandon was doing well but still missed his mom. He wrote to Santa only because writing to Santa was a tradition started by his mother as soon as Brandon could pick up a pencil. Brandon's father told me that he had every letter to Santa that Brandon and his mother had ever written together. The email Brandon sent to Santa was a continuation of that tradition he was not expecting.
He told me that Brandon didn't expect a response from Santa Claus because he had never had one before. After thinking about it for some time, Brandon's father decided to contact me to discuss Santa's reply in this special circumstance.
Together we drafted a letter for Brandon's stocking. Over a series of phone calls and through many emails, I made a friend with Brandon's father. And though I never got to see Brandon's face on Christmas morning when he read the letter Santa had left for him in his stocking I lived that moment through his father. To this day Santa receives Brandon's emails. And out of the thousands we receive every year, Brandon's is always one we look for. We want to make sure Santa's archive of letters continues to grow for Brandon and his siblings.
Brandon's story inspired us to expand the character of Elf Ed Zachary -- a columnist for the North Pole Gazette known for his superior, albeit-sometimes-snotty-attitude when it comes to answering some of the lighter hearted letters to Santa. For the website, we decided to give Elf Ed Zachary a shot at answering Brandon's letter publicly -- with his father's permission, of course.
This article by Elf Ed Zachary never fails to generate email every holiday season.
Elf Ed is still his wry self in his response. But he sheds light, as he always does, on the proper perspective of Santa as a human being.
Tough letters come in every year. And behind them are real blessings for those of us charged with answering them.
Welcome Everyone !
This is my first entry. Everything posted here will reflect my thoughts about Christmas and things that I find interesting.
I hope everyone will find my blog to be interesting as well.
Who knows, you may find some surprises along the way.
As fall is arriving I have begun the annual ritual with my whisker sets. I take them out and wash and rest set them all. Right now in my basement workshop there are three sets all pinned up to styrofoam heads. Each set has been hand washed with baby shampoo and combed out straight. I then go through the trimming and curling process. The beards each get stray hairs trimmed then set with foam culers. The hair is rolled up from the bottom of the beard. The wigs are curled up and under. The longer I leave the curlers in the better the set. My moustaches get a second cleaning ,thie first was last December,then are combed waxed and curled.Then everything is hair netted and covered until the first apperance right after Thanksgiving. I find having my hairgoods ready along with the suits I then have time for all of the other things required in the holiday season.In the fall I have the time to get the beard and wigs the way I want them as I am not rushed by buying presents and putting up decorations.I love decorating as much as I love portraying Santa so putting up the outside decor along with three trees inside takes up some time.
For years I have been working to improve my presentation as Santa. As a reference I used the CocaCola image and one's found in the Norman Rockwell Santa's of the Old Saturday Evening Post. Ever since I got the first beard set I was looking for ways to make it look better. I have bought probably a dozen Santa beard and wig sets over the years. Each set has fallen victim to my amature hairstyling attempts. My latest sets which are yak get washed cut and reset.Each time I try to make the look better. I have found that whatever you see on the internet or in the costume shop needs to be styled to one's own idea of what Santa's beard should look like.Ther search and the work continues. As for the suits I have gone the more professional routes with them though I still own four off the rack ones including the one my father wore. The belts and boots have been real letaher for a number of years. Last year I added a old fashion pocket watch with SC engraved on the cover. It was really noticed by all.I am never quite finsihed in trying to improve the presenation. Alaways on the look out for something better.
As I mentioned in previous posts, I don't do many appearances during the season. Four to five gigs a season are about it for this Santa. This is partly due to the fact that I am particular in the appearances I make, but mostly due to time constraints with my regular job – my "Clark Kent" persona if you will.
I feel that each of my appearances as Santa is a "gift" and I have often said that if I ever felt being Santa was "work", that I would not enjoy doing it as much. That is not to say that I don't stress a bit before each appearance. I am always a little nervous before each appearance. But only because I want to be the very best Santa I can be.
My favorite appearance of the season and the one I stress over the most, is Christmas Eve. Each year, Santa takes a few minutes from his busy schedule to stop by Saint Mary's Church during Christmas Eve Mass.
Saint Mary's has to be one of the most beautiful Catholic Churches in New England. Built in 1855, the Gothic style church is over 150 years old! It has been my Parish since I was born, so I am always honored to be able to address the Parishioners on Christmas Eve.
Each Christmas Eve, Santa stops in to say a few words on the true meaning of Christmas. Santa has even been known to lead the Parishioners in a round of Happy Birthday to our Lord.
Last year, Santa spoke about the symbols of Christmas and their meaning. Here is what Santa spoke to the Parishioners last Christmas Eve.
Father begins Homily
Father: Well each year, I ask Santa to stop by but it looks like he was too busy this year…
Santa quietly enters from behind Father at podium while Father is talking. Santa "sneaks" up to Father gesturing to everyone to be quiet. Father notices Santa is there.
Santa: Merry Christmas Father! Thank you for inviting me back again this year. Oh, by the way, I've gotten a few letters from the parishioners this year on your jokes.
Father: Oh, really? Did they say they liked them?
Santa: Hmmmm. Well, not exactly. I hope you don't mind, but I asked my elves to pick out a new joke book for you. Perhaps this will help.
Father: Thank you Santa!
Santa: Ho! Ho! Ho! Oh you are very welcome! Father, would mind if I said a few words to everyone?
Father: Oh, please do!
Santa: Ho! Ho! Ho! Thank you very much!
Well as you know each year Father asks me to stop by and say a few words about the true meaning of Christmas. This year I thought I do something a little different. This year I would like to talk a little bit about some of the symbols of Christmas. It occurred to me that we see Christmas symbols all around us every year around this time. But do we ever stop and think about what they mean?
Santa reaches into his bag and pulls out a wreath
We see wreaths everywhere this time a year. We see them on doors, windows, hanging on posts. But have you ever stopped to think what the wreath means? The wreath symbolizes God's love for us. It has no beginning and no end. It represents the crown of thorns worn by Jesus and the red holly berry represents the blood He shed for us.
Santa reaches into his bag and pulls out an angel
Angels announced glorious news of Jesus' birth and the Angel Gabriel that told Mary that she was to give birth to the son of God.
Santa reaches into his bag and pulls out a candy cane
Candy canes represent the shepherd's crook. The same shepherds in the field that were told by the angels of the coming of our Lord.
Santa reaches into his bag and pulls out a star
God promised a Savior for the world. The star was the sign of fulfillment of His promise and it was the star that lead the three wise men to manger.
Santa reaches into his bag and pulls out a candle
We see a lot of candles this time of year - This is an electric candle, but years ago people put real candles in their windows. They even put candles on Christmas trees. Only Father Barry and I remember that. Ho! Ho! Ho! Of course these days we use Christmas lights. We see these lights everywhere! People decorate their homes with all sorts of lights. The lights symbolizes that Christ is the light of the world and when we see these lights we are reminded that is it Jesus who fills our lives with light.
Santa reaches into his bag and pulls out a wrapped gift
We all exchange gifts this time of year, but how often do we stop to think about what the gifts are a symbol of? The wise men brought the first Christmas Gifts. They brought baby Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The gift reminds us of the gift that God gave us - His only Son.
Santa reaches into his bag and pulls out a small Christmas Tree
We all know what this is, don't we? A Christmas Tree – Oh and it is a Christmas Tree, not a Holiday or Seasonal Tree. We decorate our Christmas Trees with ornaments. They represent the gifts. We decorate our Christmas Trees with lights. They represent the candles. And the needles of the tree point towards heaven.
Santa reaches into his bag and pulls out a toy Santa
Ho! Ho! Ho! We certainly know what this is! We see Santa's image everywhere! Christmas cards – movies – television - soda cans! But always remember, that Christmas is not about me. I am only a servant of the Lord. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus - our Lord and Savior.
Santa checks his watch
Jumping Jingle bells! Look at the time! I've got to be going! Before I go, let me wish you all a very merry Christmas and a blessed new year!
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!
Well, that was Christmas Eve 2006. I am looking forward to 2007!
one of the best things I do each christmas is get photos taken with camels they are a wonderfull animal and very impresive to ride and as you can see make a great photo
however why the camel ? I think that the camel brings in to the christmas season the first present gift givers the three wise men. as santa surely we are coninuing on the tradition started on the very first christmas
Christmas 1995 was another stellar event in our home.
Aubree was nine years old that Christmas and getting a little long in the tooth to be holding a belief in Santa. Many of the adults in her life openly questioned whether or not we had gone too far or too long in bringing Aubree to the complete truth. They just didn’t know any other kid that age who still believed in Santa Claus. To them, it was normal for a kid to just request money for Christmas or to celebrate the season by giving Mom a shopping list. Santa was made for three-year-olds. Nine-year-old kids were expected to be a little more street savvy and to all it seemed I was holding her back from this natural progression. Aubree at that point was still very much involved with sugarplums -- and her peers were far beyond that.
I personally didn’t want to see Aubree leave that stage. Sandy and I discussed it at length. She worried about Aubree being teased by other kids and I worried that Aubree would just stop her world of creative imagination because Santa Claus wasn’t all I had made him out to be. At least not to the world at large who scoffed at the idea of Santa Claus.
Aubree was feeling the pressure too.
At school she only mentioned Santa to trusted friends. She had learned by sad experience that mockery followed her love for the season. So she kept it more to herself, sharing her feelings only when others discovered that she was the inspiration behind My Merry Christmas. In the privacy of our home, Aubree participated with all the enthusiasm as she had before. But in front of others she explained that she was helping her baby sister to have a Merry Christmas.
As the season again approached Aubree and I made plans to see a new movie by Disney titled The Santa Clause. On the way to the theater, Aubree told me that maybe the time had come for her to think of Santa Claus “another way”.
I knew what she meant. She was telling me, as best as she could without hurting my feelings, that Santa wasn’t real.
I felt bad enough about it that I sensed that maybe the time had come. I think if I had Sandy with me that day I likely would have told Aubree right there about the reality of Santa Claus. But Aubree stopped short of completely asking and I stopped short of telling her. We just went to the movie.
Then -- another miracle in our family's history of Christmas happened.
As the movie unfolded a character named Bernard was introduced. Aubree shot straight up in her chair. “Bernard” in her world was the name of the elf in charge of the workshop, at least according to the Update from the North Pole that she had received since our first Christmas as a family.
“Dad!” she said aloud, not caring that anyone in the theater could hear us. “That’s him! That’s Bernard!”
I swear I heard angels singing.
It was as if the confirmation she was seeking was finally given to her. Here was proof that did not come off of Dad’s fax machine. Here was confirmation that everything she had been told by Ernest was on the up-and-up. She didn’t need to cave to the pressures of her nine-year-old society. Santa was real, Bernard was real and Christmas would forever happen because the big screen had confirmed it.
I knew right there that I had Aubree for at least another season.
But the experience made clear that I needed to prepare for the time when Aubree wanted to talk about the conflict I had imposed upon her. She knew Santa was important to me. She didn’t want to openly doubt it. Expressing doubt in her child-like heart would somehow be an expression of a lack of confidence in me. And no child wants to do that to a parent.
But Aubree also knew she could not continue to believe in something the world around her so openly mocked and identified as childish. The questions were forming and it was plain to us both that we would soon have to face them.
Poor Aubree. She has always been my guinea pig. Everything as a parent that I do I test out on her. I saw this confrontation coming and I knew there was only one thing to do. Even if it meant hurting her feelings I knew that if Aubree asked me for the straight truth I had to tell her.
It happened the following spring.
We were sitting at the kitchen table, sharing a laugh at the expense of my two-year-old daughter, Abby. Abby was dancing with an Easter basket on her head. I made a joke about the Easter Bunny and Aubree shot me a look.
While I was big on Santa Claus, I wasn’t very keen about the Easter Bunny. In our house, Easter is a strictly religious observance. Since we could never make a correlation between the Easter Bunny and the meaning of Easter, we never really tried with the kids. The grandparents would bring over Easter baskets and sometimes around the holiday we would color eggs and have an Easter egg hunt. But we have always tried to keep Easter Day strictly about Jesus and never made an attempt to connect the two.
“You mean the Easter Bunny is coming this year – Santa?” Aubree questioned. Things got very quiet, very fast. The moment was upon us.
“No, Aubree.” I said. “The Easter Bunny will stay in his rabbit hole again.”
Aubree looked me right in the eye. Suddenly her face turned soft. Everything in her eyes told me she really needed to settle the question.
“Are you Santa, Dad?”
There it was in plain English. I had to come clean.
“Yes, Aubree. I am your Santa.”
I thought it would break my heart to speak such cold reality to her. But I found myself experiencing the warm confirmation that I was doing the right thing. It relieved me to hear her ask the question and it relieved me to be so candid. Amazingly, there was almost no reaction written on her face. There was just a knowing smile. Like she now possessed biggest secret in the world.
“It’s okay, Dad.” she simply said. “I’ve kind of known for a long time. Will we still get the updates this year?”
And that was it. Everything was exactly the same and everything was different – all at the same time.
I had been told for years by critics both private and public that I was betraying a trust with my daughter by not being truthful with her. I was told that I was building up resentment because I was forcing a belief she simply could not reconcile with her reality.
I was told again and again what a damaging thing it was to lead a child on in the belief of Santa Claus. And yet, when our moment came, Aubree moved from one stage to the next in the blink of an eye.
It was okay!
There was no bitterness and there never has been. There were no wagging fingers this time. Only a sweet little look on her face and a twinkle in her eye showed me that anything had changed. Could it be that she realized the goodness of Santa Claus even if he wasn't real?
When Christmas rolled around that year Aubree continued to amaze me. As the big sister, she led her siblings in celebrating the season. As the eldest daughter, she stepped up to help “manage” Santa Claus in our home. As email would pour in as it usually did off the web site, Aubree was there to help. I would share with her what kids would write to Santa. She would contribute with her opinions about what Elf Ernest would say or how Santa would handle the situation.
“Ernest has never explained why we put bows on presents, Dad.” Aubree would observe. “I think we should have an update about that.”
I learned that Aubree was beginning to see Santa Claus the same way that I do.
Santa is simply a good guy. He is a man with a profound belief in Jesus Christ and he picks Christmas as his time to shine at his very best. He gives of himself, he is kind and happy, and most of all, he looks after the happiness and well being of children and families. He is a doer and a teacher. He possesses a positive energy. He works anonymously and gives unconditionally. He is someone to admire and to emulate in our own giving each season. To Aubree, Santa is most certainly not a salesman. He is not an ATM-like machine that merely gives presents to demanding kids. He does not threaten kids for poor behavior. Aubree's Santa is a hero.
For me, coming clean about Santa was a momentous step in my growth as a parent. It taught me a valuable lesson about communicating with my children. For years I had been publicly criticized for not sitting down with my child and eyeballing her while telling her Santa Claus was imaginary. To do so was cruel in my view. Instinctively I could feel the struggle Aubree was feeling and I ached for her. But I also knew that I could not just throw cold water on her. I saw the wheels there cranking. But everything inside told me to hold on -- to wait until she asked.
For whatever reason, though her thoughts were plain to see, it seemed wisdom to me to allow her to process her feelings without actually voicing them to me. I needed to allow that to continue until she was willing to confront me about it.
I struggled with that thought for some time. Was I damaging her? Would she resent me for leading her on? Was encouraging belief in a benevolent though imaginary figure damaging? That suggestion merely encouraged me to prolong coming out with it. While many accused me of perpetuating a lie I never viewed it as such because Santa Claus was such an excellent teacher to Aubree.
I saw her grow as a result of her belief in him. In my heart it was never my intent to lie to her. My intent was to teach her through the goodness of the imaginary creature of Santa Claus. But I was no fool. Just as I see nothing wrong in allowing your kids to extend their belief in Santa Claus I see nothing wrong in telling them the truth when they are ready. In my estimation, Aubree was not ready until she asked.
For her sister Abby the truth was something she demanded at a much earlier age than Aubree. Abby was only six. But, like her big sister, Abby has continued to love the idea of Santa Claus and to participate in our fun with him surrounding every season.
Every parent worries about the maturing process of their children. As they grow older and begin to put away childish things, we hope they are prepared to see the significance of key events like Christmas in their lives. We look for signs in our kids -- some sort of confirmation that all the little lessons taught over the years add up to the big understanding we hope lessons like Christmas provide.
I knew it years later when Aubree was much older. We were working one cold November night putting up Christmas lights. As we discussed our plans for the season together she looked me straight in the eye and told me how much Christmas meant to her. It was, perhaps, the best Christmas present she could have ever given to me. Aubree said she loved Christmas because it meant we were together, at our happiest and doing so many good things that mattered. She told me there was no better way to celebrate her belief in Jesus Christ.
My eyes misted over as I fumbled with the lights. She got it. It was a thrill to hear it from her so spontaneously. I hit my knees that night with gratitude I had never known as a man or as a parent. The credit is entirely hers because she possesses an outstanding mind and a humble heart. She always has.
Aubree is an adult now. Before long, she will have children of her own. But she is well prepared. She is the eldest of seven children altogether. She has been the leader of Christmas observance in our home and to this day she still hangs the map and tapes the yarn to the map to track Santa on Christmas Eve. She has shown all of our kids the wonder and excitement that is Christmas.
But that should come as no surprise. The name "Aubree" after all means "ruler of elves".
You could look it up.
below is a meditation by CK Chesterton
What has happened to me has been the very reverse of what appears to be the experience of most of my friends. Instead of dwindling to a point, Santa Claus has grown larger and larger in my life until he fills almost the whole of it. It happened in this way. As a child I was faced with a phenomenon requiring explanation. I hung up at the end of my bed an empty stocking, which in the morning became a full stocking. I had done nothing to produce the things that filled it. I had not worked for them, or made them or helped to make them. I had not even been good—far from it. And the explanation was that a certain being whom people called Santa Claus was benevolently disposed toward me. . . . What we believed was that a certain benevolent agency did give us those toys for nothing. And, as I say, I believe it still. I have merely extended the idea. Then I only wondered who put the toys in the stocking; now I wonder who put the stocking by the bed, and the bed in the room, and the room in the house, and the house on the planet, and the great planet in the void. Once I only thanked Santa Claus for a few dolls and crackers, now, I thank him for stars and street faces and wine and the great sea. Once I thought it delightful and astonishing to find a present so big that it only went halfway into the stocking. Now I am delighted and astonished every morning to find a present so big that it takes two stockings to hold it, and then leaves a great deal outside; it is the large and preposterous present of myself, as to the origin of which I can offer no suggestion except that Santa Claus gave it to me in a fit of peculiarly fantastic goodwill.
—G. K. chesterton in The Tablet 2
It began all by accident.
When I married back in 1991 my bride had a five-year-old daughter -- a bonus! I was thrilled. Being a father was my life-long ambition and here I had acheived it instantly just by marrying the woman of my dreams. Little did I know then the challenges and true rewards of parenting.
The first thing my little Aubree did was challenge me about how we, as a new family, would spend Christmas.
The kid had Christmas all wrong. In her vast worldly experience of just five years she had learned Christmas to be a time where folks gathered at Grandmother's house on Christmas Eve and celebrated together with food, music and presents. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I just know it differently -- I know it BETTER.
I grew up in a home where Christmas was grandly celebrated. Yes, we had the gathering and the food and the presents and the music. But there was an order to it and nothing was more important than getting to bed on Christmas Eve so that Santa could come!
When I mentioned this to my new daughter Aubree merely wrinkled her nose at me in scorn and asked: "Dad, what does Santa have to do with Christmas?"
Well, there it was: my first real challenge as a parent. Leave it to me to end up with a brainy child who was a NON-BELIEVER. Leave it to me to have the only five year old in the entire world who didn't have a love and appreciation for the Big Guy.
It wasn't her fault, of course. But it was my challenge to overcome.
For months we wrestled with the issue. She wanted Christmas as she had always known it -- at grandmother's house with all the traditional fixings. I wanted it as I had always known it. I wanted Christmas as it should be.
Finally, as head of the home and knowing that what we decided would eventually decide Christmas tradition for decades to come for our as yet unborn children (we have seven kids), I put my foot down. For me and my house, we would celebrate Christmas Eve at home as a family. We would hang our stockings. We would wait for Santa Claus. And we would get to Grandmother's on Christmas Day.
Aubree, to her credit, was accepting. After all, Daddy could be pretty stern when he had to. But he also could compromise. And I had a whale of a deal for her:
Some time before Thanksgiving I heard from a good friend of mine by the name of Ernest. Ernest is in PR. Ernest, you see, is an Elf. Ernest suggested that together we work on Aubree and that if we tried hard she would, as five year olds go, become a believer in no time.
He proposed that I reason with the child. He said that if Aubree would send him, an elf, a list of questions about Christmas and Santa Claus that he, an elf, would answer them. So, using the magic of the technology we possessed at the time -- namely, a fax machine in my home office -- Elf Ernest introduced himself and offered Aubree a chance to converse personally with him, Elf Ernest, Santa's Vice President of Public Relations and Chief Goodwill Ambassador.
"Dad," Aubree said, "is this for real?" Man, she was a hard sell.
"Of course, it's for real." I said. "What can it hurt to just fax him back? Tell him anything. Tell him you don't believe in Santa. Tell him why. Ask him to prove Santa to you. In fact, ask him anything about Santa at all."
So she did. And did the kid have questions! Who invented fake snow and why? Why do we use red and green at Christmas? Just what is mistletoe? Oh, she had questions that would keep Ernest busy for weeks.
Around Thanksgiving, after Ernest had been faxing nearly every day, he offered to give Aubree an "Update from the North Pole" -- kind of a daily report of what happens with Santa Claus and the elves in the lead up to Christmas. And with these reports, Elf Ernest had some fun. He described food fights that elves would sometimes get into, the fact that Mrs. Claus would chide Santa about his diet, and, of course, the personalities of other key elves in Santa's operation -- people like Elf Bernard, the head of Santa's Workshop (this was BEFORE Disney's The Santa Clause movies, by the way, but that's another story...); Elf Hugo, who ran the Wrapping Department, and Elf Ed Zachary -- a wry, old elf whose job it was to write for the North Pole Gazette as Santa's Chief Defender. Aubree got a real kick out of him.
Elf Ernest and I were not sure if we were reaching her. But Elf Ernest was tenacious. He seemed to know what was on Aubree's mind and what was important to her. He drew paralells between what was going on in her life (a new Daddy, a new home, a new school, etc) and what was going on at the North Pole. When Elf Ernest explained, for example, that Santa had attended a Christmas devotional at his church Aubree could related because she had recently done the same thing.
But I knew we were finally getting through to her when we went as a family to cut down our Christmas tree. As we were coming home Aubree insisted on a discussion about what to name the tree. She was obsessed with this idea. In exasperation, my wife asked her why it was so important to name the tree. It was, after all, just a Christmas tree. Aubree feigned surprise and said "Mom! Don't you know? Elf Ernest says that Santa always names his tree. A tree is a living thing. We put it in our house and give it a place of honor. We sing in front of it. We put lights and decorations on it. It becomes a member of our family. We give it water so it will live. It becomes one of us, we have to give it a name!"
So our first Christmas tree was named Wally. And he is fondly remembered.
Of course, by the time Christmas Eve came around, Aubree was a believer. Elf Ernest made it easier to get through Christmas Eve by sending us a map of the world with instructions to track Santa on Christmas Eve. Every 15 minutes on Christmas Eve the fax machine would ring, telling us where Santa was and what he was doing. Aubree taped a piece of yarn to the map and all day long stretched it out from one exotic location to the next as he got closer and closer to our home.
I thought that would be it. Aubree, after all, was hooked. And I had my fun on Christmas Eve and we had the great traditional Christmas I had hoped for. Heck, we even invented our own new family tradition of tracking Santa that I knew the kids to come would be thrilled with.
But as the next Christmas rolled around and Aubree began writing again to Elf Ernest, I had no idea she was taking her faxes with her to school. I had no idea she had become a virtual missionary for Santa Claus. She told her grandparents about the faxes and soon Elf Ernest had to send the faxes to their workplaces just so they could keep up. Before long, my phone was ringing from other parents who wanted the faxes too. I had no idea there would so many Santa skeptics out there!
From there, it blossomed over the next several Christmases. Within a few years the faxes were making their way around the world and each day from Thanksgiving to Christmas we would receive excited replies to the "Update from the North Pole" as well as many new questions about Christmas. In fact, it was getting downright expensive and time consuming to manage it all.
That's when we discovered this thing called the Internet. We started with a book from the library about publishing web pages and we used a free hosting option offered by Yahoo. In time, we purchased our own domain name. Santa started receiving wishlists and questions by email. He and Ernest would do live chats. Little by little, year by year, it has become a bigger thing.
We are now a network of more than 30 websites -- of which, ClausNET is just the newest -- celebrating Christmas. We have discussion forums, Santa sites, quiz sites, and sites dedicated to all things Christmas. It just keeps getting bigger. We have a lot of help. Over the years, more than 200 Christmas lovers of talent have loaned their abilities to the cause -- writers, artists, programmers and experts in Christmas specialties -- have come together to build these sites and share Christmas with each other. It is, for me, a most heart warming modern day miracle.
But for me, Elf Ernest and Santa are still at the heart of it all. Elf Ernest almost exclusively runs Santa Update.com and Santa will, from time to time, pop up on the forums at My Merry Christmas. com to answer questions. Elf Ed Zachary still writes for the Gazette and has developed quite a loyal following of his own.
Aubree? She's 21 now. As the eldest of seven she still leads the charge each Christmas Eve, still taping yarn to the map of the world as we follow along with Santa every Christmas Eve.
Alice is the shortened version of Alice Springs the great town I live in it is 1000 miles from the nearest coast and also the nearest is the largest town withint that 1000 mile radius. our weather goes from highs of over 110 to lows of 15 F
the Alice is within a desert region that is over 500 miles in most directions this all means we are in a isolated area however as most people from alice springs like to say we are the closest to all beaches in Australia
I have lived here for 15 years and been Santa here for about 12 years I started being santa when i was asked to fill in for a local club I wore a cheap suit the kind you buy in Kmart with a cheap suit. since then i have a regular job in a local shopping mall where I am on set for the last two weeks before christmas.
in my other time I work as a manager in inflight catering and as a chef for a local resturant
being a santa is interesting in alice as there is a high proportion of aboriginals living here and thier beliefs are a bit different to the normal white persons. Many of the traditional Aboriginals have taken santa to be a high elder and it is also considered good luck to shake Santas hand.
this week in the alice it has been very cold down to -3C and we had one day when it didnt get over 8c this means when not working Im sat in front of the heater most of the time
I don't know what it is exactly about me. But there are certain pieces of music that effect me in a way that many grown men may not want to admit to.
I grew up with a lot of varied musical influences. My mother studied and played classical piano. She also played the organ for our Church on occasion. So there was a lot of Chopin, Brahms, Mozart, and Bach always in the background growing up - but also a lot of country, jazz, and popular music as well. Elvis, Johnny, Frank, Dean, Bing, and Sammy, were also heard a lot in my house. So I learned to appreciate many different musical genres and styles. I can honestly say that I love most music. However there are one or two forms of "music" I simply just don't get and probably never will. But I digress.
The fact that I grew up with so many musical influences is likely the reason I decided to pursue music myself. I studied classical trumpet for over 20 years and I played in a variety of orchestras and bands - Classical, Jazz, Stage, and Blues. I also did my fair share of "rock band" work - Chicago, BTO, Billy Joel, Elton John, and the like. I even sang in a few of these bands. And I've been known to belt out a few show tunes on stage as well.
But it is Classical and Instrumental music that I find myself going back to over and over again. And not just composers that lived in the 1500s through the 1800s, like; Beethoven, Bach, Hayden, Chopin, and Mozart, but 20th Century composers too - Samuel Barber, George Gershwin, and John Williams.
This music effects me. Certain pieces and movements can literally give me goosebumps and in some cases bring me bring me to tears. I have no idea how or why this happens. Believe it or not, The End Title from The Empire Strikes Back composed by (IMHO one of the greatest modern day composers) John Williams always brings me to tears. Again, I have no idea why. It just happens.
Now what does all of this have to do with Christmas you ask? Well, Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker Suite has this effect on me. Not just one or two songs from the ballet but almost the entire suite! Every year I make it a point to see The Nutcracker. The Boston Ballet does a wonderful performance every year - as does the Festival Ballet in Providence. As the Overture begins chills begin to run up and down my arms and a lump starts to form in my throat.
I began writing this entry while listening to The Nutcracker on my mp3 player and even now it has the exact same effect on me as I would get sitting in the theater watching a live performance. Weird.
Well, it's late and I am off to bed. After sitting here rambling on about The Nutcracker, I wonder if I will dream about a giant Mouse King.
I would like to first introduce my self I have been a Santa for ten years or so I also have 3 kids of which i am thier sole parent. I am heavily involved in Athletics cumilating in attending the commonwealth games in 2006 as an Official.
I live in Alice Springs which is nearly dead centre of Australia during the christmas season the temperatures get up to 45 or more degrees celcius however during our winter which is now we get temperatures as low as -5.
Alice Springs is a town of 25000 people the next nearest town is 500 Km away and the nearest city is 1500 Km away.
I will atempt to blog at least once a week and we will see where this takes us
I have since I was a child been facinated with the Santa and Christmas. When I was a child my Uncle Phil wore the red suit and was Santa at all the family Christmas gatherings. It was so exciting as a child to have Santa show up right in the house.We all went to a departement store to get a picture but having him arrive during a family party at home was magical. My dad who had the appropriate build was Santa for the cub scout Christmas parties and later for his grand kids. When the grand kids wanted Grampy home when Santa arrived the role was turned over to me. Well that was 25 years ago and Uncle Phil and Dad have passed on but each got to see me work on my Santa presentation and give me advise. Every year I work to make a more realistic presenation. The nieces and nephews are now of the age for their own kids so the saga will continue keeping in the family Christmas tradition and love of the Santa magic.
Today I received my second Bachelors degree in Santa Claus. I received my first Bachelors of Santa Claus in 2005 from the Charles W, Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, MI.
Today, I graduated from the International University of Santa Claus (IUSC).
The class was held in Providence, RI by Santa Tim Connaghan.
Santa Tim Connaghan – Santa Hollywood
The class covered several topics including:
The History of Santa Claus The Basics of being Santa
- Making the visit memorable
- Positive Guest Service
- Santa's Arrival
- Welcoming the Children
- Seating the Child or Children
- Special Techniques for photographing babies
- Hands in the Photo
- Training your Helpers
- Handling problems
- Inconsiderate Parents
- The Do's and Don'ts of being a Santa.
Talking with Children
- Asking, Listening & Answering
- How to ask the right questions
- How to answer children's questions
- Answering Difficult Questions
- Answering those who don't believe in Christmas.
Working for a Mall or Photo Company
- Efficiency, It's a team effort
- The first 15 seconds
- Handling problems
- Working with Pets.
The Special Event Santa
- Who's in charge
- Making the Grand Entrance
- Handling large Crowds, Working with the Media
The Entertaining Santa
- Add Storytelling, Singing, Magic, Balloon Art, etc. to your resume.
The Image of Santa
- Your Image as Santa
- What children, parents and others see and think of you
- Grooming and Appearance
- Santa's Magic Suit
- Marketing yourself
What Qualities do Great Santa's Possess
- A Santa of Character
- Be Prepared
- Be Organized
The class was a lot of fun and I got to meet up with several Santas from the New England area!
This October I am headed back to the CWH Santa Claus School for my Masters in Santa Claus. This year will be the 70th anniversary of the school and I am looking forward to meeting up with some old friends!
To learn more about the CWH Santa Claus School, visit their website.
To learn more about the International University of Santa Claus (IUSC), visit their website.
Well hello there and welcome to my very first blog entry!
I thought a long time about what my first entry would be here and it seemed only fitting to use this opportunity to say thank you to my inspiration in becoming Santa - My grandfather (Papa) James D. Rielly.
James "Jimmy" Rielly was born in 1908 soon after my great grandparents arrived here from Ireland.
Papa donned the red suit early in life. I have gotten conflicting data from my aunts and uncles (his children) and my recently passed Nana (his wife). However, from what I gather he started his Santa career sometime between 1927 and 1929 - between the ages of 19 to 21.
As you can see from the picture, he originally wore a Santa mask! I still can't believe kids fell for that! Later on he moved up to a strap beard, wig, and glued cotton balls to his eyebrows. His suit was nothing great; in fact he wore regular shoes most of the time. His nicest suit was made by my Mom. It was made from a simple red cotton material and bad fake fur.
Years before I ever even considered becoming Santa, he told me several times that it was not about the suit or the beard. I didn't really know what that meant until much later when I donned the suit for the first time.
Back then there weren't as many Santas as there are today. So I guess that's what made him somewhat of a celebrity. He was featured on several national TV shows including PM Magazine and had received literally thousands of letters from celebrities, dignitaries, and politicians. I have seen 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".
Papa appeared primarily at hospitals, nursing homes, orphanages, schools, charitable organizations, and military bases. He occasionally did home visits and private parties too, but he never took money for any of his appearances.
I am told many people showed their appreciation in the form of bottles of scotch, whisky, wine, etc., but the only ones that took advantage of that, were the people driving Papa to and from appearances. My Papa, the son of Irish immigrants, didn't drink alcohol! Papa didn't drive either, so when my Dad and his brothers and sisters were old enough there was never a shortage of drivers for Papa.
2007 will be my 16th year as Santa. I took up the red suit the year after he passed. In Papa's honor I take no money for my appearances and stick primarily to the same customer base – although there aren't many orphanages around these days. I have a long way to go before I get to his level, but I like to think that I am continuing his work. Before all of my appearances, I say a little prayer to Papa. I like to think that he is watching.
So thank you Papa. Thank you for being an inspiration to me and who knows how many countless other children you may have touched.
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