Create Your Own North Pole
Recently I run across some notes that I had taken back in October of last year that I had from a presentation by Santa Steve Gillham also known as the Triangle Santa in the Raleigh area in North Carolina. Steve done a wonderful presentation of his “sneak a peek” CHRISTmas Eve visits and told some very funny stories. But one of the biggest take away from the get together was how that even though we wear a red suit and beard whether designer or real that is where we stop being the same… We all know that the one’s that do this for the right reasons it’s all in the heart and it show’s through to the children. I realized that we all have our own ideas of what Santa would look like. We reflect that in our individual touches that we add to the suit or our Santa attire. A few of the things I picked up from the meeting was we all are story tellers in some way. When were answering questions we have our on spin on how many elves are there? Or How do you get down the chimney, how does Reindeer fly….. The ways we answer those questions help spin the tale of our own North Pole. We create our on individual North Pole that is the way we see it… If you’re fortunate enough to have some props such as glass bottles with glitter and led lights mounted under them you can even have fairy dust that you use……. Here is a couple of Q & A I took away. Obviously you each will have your own answer that will differ and that is what helps set your Santa apart. For the new Santa’s out there these are some things to think about so that your not stumped by some questions down the line……
If you have time in a home setting or party with children have a question and Answer session with them and story time. For me here are a few answers I have worked on…. Again no right or wrong answers… Always a work in process.
How many elves do you have? I have 5,457……… unless elf Caitlyn has her baby while I am gone…
How do you get down that small chimney? Christmas Dust (I carry a small pouch with artificial snow and glitter mixed together and show it to them).
How do Reindeer fly? Well the way the antlers are made they help pick the wind up and lift them… along with the special CHRISTmas moss only found at the North Pole.
What is your favorite cookie? I ask them what theirs is… what ever they answer I say “wow that’s my favorite too”.
What happens if someone catches Santa on CHRISTmas Eve? I tell them we’ll have a cookie and milk party just them and me. Then I pull out a white feather prop….. I explain to them that we’ll have a great time but when it’s time for me to leave I will drop the feather on the ground. At the exact moment the feather hits the ground they will be back asleep in their beds and will not remember anything about catching me…..(I drop the feather while I’m talking at the end of the answer and they just watch the feather mesmerized) …. If there is a parent around that is a good idea for them to pick up on…. Leave a feather near the milk and cookies that were left out and the children will think they actually caught Santa and can’t remember it now because of the story…. “Thanks Steve for that one if you’re reading this”…..
While I don’t have all the great props yet that Steve had I will be adding some background music while I’m story telling this year…. Easily downloaded to my ipad to give a different atmosphere to the story telling…
Hope you enjoyed my little tidbit of info and don’t forget to stop into the chat rooms on Saturday nights starting at 9 PM eastern to get feed back from other Santa’s on things just like this….
Santa Brian of SC
Before the era of the Internet, TV, radio, even before the movies, live performances were the most prevalent medium of professional entertainment in America, and an evening or matinee at the local vaudeville theater was a family treat. Vaudeville shows were the original variety shows, and “variety” was the word. A single show might offer any or all of acrobats, animal acts, singers, dancers, actors, comedians, magicians, or a man who could play the violin with a bulldog suspended from the crook of his elbow.
But if vaudeville was a wonderland for audiences, it was a daily grind for the performers. The most prestigious vaudeville houses staged two shows a day, while performers in “small time” theaters often played three shows a day, or even five, including Sundays and holidays. Actors would spend from a few days to a week at one theater before moving on to the next theater in the circuit. As vaudeville veteran Fred Allen, later a popular radio comedian, recalled, "Most of the vaudeville actors spent their Christmas days on trains, in dingy dressing rooms, or in drab hotels."
A group of performers in Long Island, New York decided to reclaim Christmas for these hardworking vaudevillians.
Freeport was known by 1914 as a popular summertime “actors’ colony.” In those days before air conditioning, many theaters closed during the summer months, and performers tended to spend their layoff time together in communities of their own, often near a lake or the seashore. Headed by actor Victor Moore, the Freeport contingent founded a club they called the Long Island Good Hearted Thespians Society, soon abbreviated to LIGHTS. Around 1915, the LIGHTS came up with the bright idea (no pun intended) of hosting an annual Christmas party in July at their clubhouse overlooking Great South Bay, to allow the vaudeville performers to enjoy the Christmas celebrations they missed while working on the road.
Victor Moore, founder of LIGHTS. He frequently played Santa Claus for the vaudevillians' Christmas in July.
As Fred Allen recalled, “Though the temperature be in the 90s, the Lights’ Christmas tree was decorated and lighted, Santa Claus was dressed in his heavy suit with the ermine trimmings, presents were placed under the tree, and the members and their children arrived in their furs, mittens and earflaps, some even clattering into the club on snowshoes.” Even the performing ponies and dogs could expect a handful of sugar cubes or a dog collar in their stockings. Some years the thespians also staged a July Christmas parade through the streets of Freeport, complete with clowns, acrobats, and, one year, elephants.
The annual observance of Christmas in July became a cherished tradition for these nomadic performers, so much so than when June rolled around and summer heat began to close the theaters, actors would part with a cheery “See you at Christmas in July!”
By 1930, however, vaudeville was on its last legs, overtaken by sound movies and radio, and the LIGHTS clubhouse in Freeport was sold, bringing an end to the July ritual beloved by a generation of performers.
As you celebrate at your next Christmas in July party, consider raising a toast to these intrepid entertainers who gave up their December Christmases to entertain families all across America. They were the pioneers of our modern Christmas in July.
(Exerts from Mary Cary with MerryChristmas.com)
In July 1933 at Camp Keystone, a girl's summer camp in North Carolina, which celebrated with a Christmas Tree, gifts, and a visit by Santa Claus himself. In 1935, the National Recreation Association's journal Recreation described what a Christmas in July was like at a girl's camp, writing that "all mystery and wonder surround this annual event."
The term, if not the exact concept, was given national attention with the release of the Hollywood movie comedy titled Christmas in July in 1940. In the story, a man is fooled into believing he has won $25,000 in an advertising slogan contest. He buys presents for family, friends and neighbors, and proposes marriage to his girlfriend.
In 1942, the Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., celebrated Christmas in July with carols and the sermon Christmas Presents in July.They repeated it in 1943, with a Christmas tree covered with donations. The pastor explained that the special service was patterned after a program held each summer at his former church in Philadelphia, when the congregation would present Christmas gifts early to give ample time for their distribution to missions worldwide.It became an annual event, and in 1946 the service began to be broadcast over local radio.
The U.S. Post Office, U.S. Army and Navy officials, in conjunction with the American advertising and greeting card industries, threw a Christmas in July luncheon in New York in 1944 to promote an Early Christmas Mailing Campaign for service men and women overseas during World War II.The luncheon was repeated in 1945.
American advertisers began using Christmas in July themes in print for summertime sales as early as 1950. In the United States, it is more often used as a marketing tool than an actual holiday. Television stations may choose to re-run Christmas specials, and many stores have Christmas in July sales. Some individuals choose to celebrate Christmas in July themselves, typically as an intentionally transparent excuse to have a party. This is in part because most bargainers tend to sell Christmas goods around July to make room for next year's inventory. The television shopping networks QVC nd Home shopping Network have shows titled Christmas in July
Today, Christmas in July is an occasion to enjoy a taste of the Christmas season in the summertime—or in the wintertime, if you live in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s also an occasion for Yule-themed shopping sprees and a flurry of out-of-season Christmas movies on the cable-TV networks. But did you ever wonder about the origins of Christmas in July? There are various theories about that, but it may well be that Christmas in July as we know it is the legacy of a special show business tradition of the early 20th century.
With recent passing aways of some Santa's it come to me do we have anyone that we pass along our knowledge or our Santa "stuff" and suits? After all we spend so much time and money in some cases on our Santa persona it would be a shame to have our suits and all just hang in a closet and waist way. For me I am on of the lucky ones who has a son that I could pass along my "stuff". I use the word could assuming he would have the calling in his heart to be a second generation Santa. He is only six years old right now so he is a long way from taking over should he want to. First step will be an elf some time down the road. But should he not get the calling do I find someone to pass along to or does the family sale the items I have acquired over to year to a stranger somewhere who hopes that they would use it wisely? So now the question IS..... Should we start a "connection group" of sorts to pass our goods along to so that we know we pass it along to a Santa with the true calling?
Lots of times I wondered what it would have been like many many years ago...... I come across this story and thought it was worth sharing.
In the fall, when the nights began to be cold and frosty, children would count the days until Santa Claus would come. They would beg for pretty striped stockings to be knit and long ones, too, to hang up Christmas Eve night. For weeks, older people would keep children disciplined by telling them, "If you don't act purty, Santa won't come to see you. "
On Christmas Eve, the beech yule log was brought in and placed as a back log in the big fireplace. It had been lying in the creek for days to get thoroughly soaked so it would last longer, for the festivities lasted as long as the yule log lasted.
Children were told the story that Santa came down the chimney from the house top. Parents had fun making this seem true by shaping tracks in soot on back of chimneys and then sooty tracks on the hearth. Children were urged to get to bed and to sleep early on Christmas Eve so Santa could come. There was often a nosy boy who stayed awake to peep at Santa.
Children aroused parents early on Christmas morning with the greeting "Christmas Gift." This greeting was used by everyone to friends and relatives on Christmas Day. It was not a request for exchange of presents, but a greeting which probably originated by acknowledging Christ's birthday as God's gift to mankind.
But we must find out what Santa put in those stockings hanging from the mantle. In the girls' stockings, there would be a few sticks of candy, a few pieces of cream candy, raisins with seeds hanging to the stem, and an orange. The orange was the prize, for they seldom saw one. Each girl usually got one little doll in her childhood. It was about 6 or 8 inches tall. Its head, even the hair, was china as was its hand and arm to the elbow and foot and leg to the knee. It was left for the girls to dress, for every girl must learn to sew.
The boys got about the same in their stockings, but instead of a doll they got a $0.10 barlow knife and firecrackers - ten in a row laced together, the only kind on the market then. An older brother might put in a hickory as a joke. The joy these gifts brought to those children far exceed that of the child of today with their many expensive gifts. [this is probably a reference to the bonanza of electric toys my parents bestowed on my brother and me during a 60's Christmas at the Wistaria-ed.]
My mother told of one little girl who begged for button shoes. She got them and wore them first to the community Christmas tree at the church. When they returned home, the mother discovered the child had them on the wrong foot. They were buttoned on the inside instead of the outside of the foot.
A great stunt for boys and men on Christmas morning was a prank with their dogs. When animals were butchered in the fall, every bladder was saved and blown up like a balloon to dry. When dry, a few peas I were put in each one. On Christmas morning, boys collected with their dogs. They tied these inflated bladders to the dogs' tails. The peas rattled, the dogs took off over roads and fields and the boys whooped and laughed. Soon the firecrackers were heard. The men had a shooting match with their old flint rifles.
Families and friends gathered together in homes on Christmas Day, so there must be a feast prepared. Butter had been saved for days for making sweetbread, gingerbread, and pies, which were all baked in I the ovens on the hearth. Fresh pork with souse meat, liver mush, and sausage was prepared.
Wild turkeys were baited so they could be easily shot. Also, rabbit, I squirrels, and opossum were gathered in. Lye hominy was made with lye leached from oak ashes. Apple butter was made with sorgum substituted for sugar. There was leather britches from the strings of green beans dried by the fireplace, Kraut and sweet potatoes. For drinks they I used coffee made of parched sweet potatoes and parched rye; sassafras tea made from root of red sassafras and locust beer. Every family planned food according to their means and they were not showered with baskets as now. I
A Christmas tree at the church usually followed in the afternoon. For programs, they had devotions and singing. The tree was a large holly which abounded in this area. It was trimmed with strings of popped corn and strings of holly berries. The gifts, even dolls, were hung on the tree without wrapping. There was no paper for wrapping except heavy brown paper used in stores and that was rare. Santa Claus, and usually Mrs. Santa, were there to distribute gifts and to call "Merry Christmas" to all.
There were dances during the Christmas season. They would have the square dance and the dainty toes would dance the minuet. It was the custom then as now to watch the old year out and the New Year in. The colored mammy and many others told that at 12 o'clock on that night the cows would kneel and mourn for the passing year. This story has been handed down through the years. A party of young people decided they would see if there was any truth in that story. A few minutes before twelve, a part of the group went a head to the cow shed only to be disappointed to find the cattle sleeping. The remainder of the group followed with a pine torch. When this torch appeared, one cow rose on her knees and bellowed. Such scurrying away as the group did! Stephen Keith, the fellow with the torch, yelled back to the cow, "Happy New Year."
By Bert Hendricks Reece
Too Santa what’s that mean?
A few weeks back I heard the song made famous by George Jones called “Too Country”. The song goes through talking about being called too country in his singing. The verse’s go through the process of talking about different things from food to almost anything that any person or someone from a higher standard would consider to beneath them or not “proper” or too country… It got me to thinking about all the things I had read over the past three years of discovering the wonderful world of Saint Nick’s on the internet. From facebook group discussions to our very on Clausnet. (By the way a BIG THANKS to Michael Rielly for this site).
Does anything we as representatives of Santa make us too Santa? Now this question leads to mostly only impact our real bearded brothers in red.. For the designer bearded Santa’s we can take the beard off at the end of the day and blend in with the rest of the world. Nothing wrong with that what so ever. I have been on both sides of the coin. I grew a real beard out two seasons’ ago but went back to an upgraded designer beard this year. At 42 between the Mr’s and my office job the real beard did not work well for me. Not to say though that 10 -15 years from now the real beard will not be permanent. None the less back to our real bearded Santa’s. If you wear red each time you go out does that make you too Santa? If you drive a red car or have Santa designs on your car does that make you too Santa?
For those of us real or designer bearded who feel the need to listen to Christmas music when it’s not the season does that make us too Santa? I have a work shop that I like to make Christmas crafts in. While I am in there sometimes I wear my Santa hat…. too Santa? There were some Santa’s I know that would wear their Santa hats while on our monthly “LIVE CHAT” on Clausnet….( The live chat is the 3rd Saturday night of each month at 9:00PM eastern standard time and open to anyone)… Now that I got that plug in there…. Does that make them / us too Santa?
On the other side of the coin if you never go to a Santa school does it make you less of a Santa? If you never officially signed the Santa oath does that make you any less a Santa?
As I have documented before many times I believe that being a Santa boils down to what is in your heart. Whether you received the calling or just put on the suit to make a buck.
There are discussions on both sides of the coin for these questions. I have read where some Santa representatives take the persona as far as dressing each day like Santa no matter where they go. Change names to Santa Claus, Chris Kringle or a host of other names for Santa. I don’t write this blog to try and sway or critique anyone. Just too merely ask the question that popped into my head when I heard the song too country…. Can we go too far as to be too Santa?
I have portrayed Santa off and on since 1992. I bought a Wal-Mart Suit and set outside around a bunch of lights / scenery and visited with children in the community and ones that stopped by. I did free visits to churches and neighborhoods. However, I have only started trying to do it professionally for the past two years. I meet some great Santa's at the CHRISTmas Inn in Pigeon Forge back in March. They were in town for the Clausfest and were staying at the same hotel my wife and I were at spending out anniversary. I had convinced my wife to go a week later for our anniversary so we could see the parade and hopefully meet some fellow Brothers in Red. I had a blast listening and learning from some others while setting around. I had my first meeting with some local state wide Santa's back in October and can not wait till the next gathering. However, since the season has started I have run into some Santa's that well do not seem to want to discuss Santa things..... Not sure if they were just overwhelmed by the season or if they were just in the suit for the money..... I approached some while they were on breaks and no children around just to chat..... They were not rude but made it known they were not interested in meeting another Santa much less others when the season was done. Guess to each his own. But for me I love talking to other Santa's. I don't see you as competition but a fellow Brother in Red and someone to learn from. You will find me a lot in the chat room because I love to discuss and talk. Feel free to always ask me questions and know that I love to continue to learn from anyone willing to teach.
Santa Brian Voyles
What makes a Santa? It’s not whether you have a real beard or a designer beard. It’s not whether you’re plump or a skinny right jolly old elf. It’s not whether you have the suit that cost hundreds of dollars or the economical suit right out of the box. It’s not based on how many appearances you make each year. It’s not based on how much money you make or charity organizations you help. It’s not based on how many Santa groups or organizations you belong to or if you can sing and carry a tune. The true making of a Santa, Mrs. Claus or an Elf is in the heart.
That’s right it comes from the heart. It does not matter when it happened, whether just this year or many many sleigh rides ago. At some time we all got the calling to become a Santa helper. For those of you that have the true gift in your heart you understand what I am talking about when I say you got the calling. I still have the very first letter given to me as Santa from a child. Still remember the smiles and the twinkle in the children’s eye’s the first time I portrayed Santa. And I still remember the first heart tugging request that was made by a little girl that I knew could not be fulfilled by a mere mortal in my Santa outfit. There is a reason why we do what we do. From playing Santa Claus or the supporting roles of Mrs. Claus and elves all the way to even reindeer costumes. And that my reader is simply what comes to each of us in sharing and giving the simple gift we bring of joy.
As the season approaches I say a prayer for each and every one of you. For a safe trip if your traveling away from family to support a mall or just a few miles to do some smaller visits. I pray for your safe travels and that the true meaning of Christmas been seen through you in each and every child from 1 to 92 and beyond.
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!
Santa Brian Voyles
Santa Brian’s rambling thoughts
I grew up in the 70’s and have pictures of some toy’s that are considered antiques by some. Over the years I look back to those years and think how wonderful Christmas was for me as a child. As I get older and have children of my own the years seem to fly by. I watch a lot of Christmas movies and TV shows and think how simple and nice times seemed back in the 40’s and 50’s once the war’s we over. I know compared to the gifts that are received today there were not as many presents but they were simple times and the small gifts went a long way. As I look at the calendar and count there are only 111 days until Christmas I think back to those years when I was a child. There seemed to be a Santa in every dept store in town. Upon visiting two stores in one night the thought came to me and I asked my parents “how can Santa be in two places at once”. Without hesitation they said “Santa can not be everywhere at all times. So he has helper’s or elves that dressed as Santa and report back to him. But you never know which one IS THE REAL ONE”. I still remember the department stores and the exact location where I asked the question. I also remember the first time I (voluntarily) sat upon Santa’s lap. It was a department store called Harpers five & dime. When you walked in the front door entrance there was a popcorn machine at the front register and it was a welcome treat when mom and dad would spring the 10 cent for the large bag. The adult section was upstairs where the front entrance was and the children’s area and toys was on the bi level floor about 10 steps below. So as a child every time we would go I always went to the toy section and looked around until it was time to leave. I do not remember the year but I do know it was December, I walked down those stairs and there he was as big as life setting in a chair with decorations around him in the toy section. There were no other kids in site and I had no clue what to do. Soooo I hurried down the steps and hit the back isle of the toys. I would go isle to isle looking at toys while always keeping an eye on Santa. Every now and then I would peek up the isle where he was and he would wave and I would pop my head back. Yep you guessed it I was scared of Santa. The entire evening went this way until mom and dad came down to leave. They tried to get me to sat on Santa’s lap but I was having nothing to do with it. So finally we walk out the back door which had glass windows that covered the whole back wall facing the street. As we approached the last window I peered though once more at this bigger than life man who would fulfill my Christmas wishes and all I had to do was set on his lap and tell him what I wanted. I looked at my mom and dad and then back at Santa through the window I knew this was it my one chance to tell him what I wanted him to bring me. So I mustered up all my strength and went running back into the store. As mom and dad watched through the window I set nervously on Santa’s knee and told him what I wanted for Christmas. I often wonder what that gentleman thought about that kid that night watching his every move and just when he thought I was gone I bolted back in. Do I remember what I asked for? No but none the less those are some of the memories that I think back on and loved about those years of innocence. Now I look back and laugh about how scared I was of the Jolly Ole Elf and now how I have become one of his helpers.
It is the look in their little eyes, the smile on their little faces and the unconditional love and belief in Santa that makes me want to do what I do. I think each one of us can look back over the years and remember one special visit on your knee or have several that may stand out if you have done this for several years. One of my most memorable came this past season when a little girl came up to visit Santa. The only request that this child wanted was for her famiy to get along for the Christmas season. Although this request caught me off gaurd for a moment, I quickly thought and told her that I would say a special prayer for her and for her to also say a prayer and maybe the magic of Christmas would touch their hearts. I guess I'll never know how her Christmas turned out but I like to think it was a great year for her and her family. Those special moments when a childs faith and trust in Santa fully are what make it worth wild.
This coming August will mark one year since my Dad went to Heaven. As the holidays approached last year I began to think of all the people who celebrate Christmas but don't put up a tree or decorations. Now don't get me wrong to each their own.. And there are many reasons as to why. The most common I have heard is they don't have that many visitors and they don't want to deal with the mess to clean up. But last year missing my Dad it hit me. We only get so many birthdays in a life time so make a cake. We only get so many years with our children before they grow up, So play ball or dolls with them. And we only get so many Christmas' to enjoy. So put up a tree and decorate.......... A few years ago my wife and I bought one of those $600 pre lite trees on sale after Christmas for $50. It stands about 9ft tall and comes in four heavy sections. I know some day I will be to old to be able and handle that size tree and most likely will have to use a smaller one. But none the less I will only have so many Chrismas' here on this earth and I vow to always decorate and have a tree. No matter how big or small.
Though its only June it will soon be time to turn our attention to Christmas. The tree will go up, the house will be decorated and the yard will be all a glow with Christmas scenery. It is my favorite time of year. Each year we drag out a thousand lights, drop cords and spend a few good hours setting up the yard for passer’s by the kids and us to enjoy. Each year I think back to how magical those Christmas’ were when I was a kid and how Christmas eve getting together with family seemed perfect just like in the movies. As you get older though sometimes the movie seems more like “National Lampoons Christmas Vacation”. I remember those years when I woke up at 1:00, 2:00 or 3:00 AM and could not go back to sleep or waking up and sneaking to the living room and not seeing anything under the tree where Santa had come. But never fear when we woke up the next morning there were seemingly ton’s of toys under the tree. I remember the first football uniform, the first bike…. It was a Jaws bike with a banana seat. And of course the Atari game system. I played that thing all morning and into the night. Boy how games have come a long way now. Also remember back to past Christmas Eve’s and the fun had with Family that have long since past away and sometimes wish we could go back and soak in those nights around the dinner table and opening presents. I don’t remember the presents from back then but I do remember the good times we had. Not only was that time magical but family and parents made it more special. Now I try my best to make this time of year just as magical or more for my kids. After all this is Christmas that’s right CHRISTmas not Xmas. The reason for the season was the baby in the manger we celebrate at this time of year. Jesus’ birthday. When I got married years ago my wife’s grandmother had a birthday party every year for Jesus and would let off balloons and the whole nine yards. I know the world wants us to not offend any one and call it a holiday tree or year end celebrations. But as for me I am thankful there are still some out there that refuse to give in and still celebrate Christmas. So from my family to your’s MERRY CHRISTMAS.
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