Just a very special kid. I have one child and she is a wonderful young lady in her early twenties. Holly is part of not only my life and family; she is part of my Santa Claus world. As a child she came out to Santa's Village to see me and enjoyed the park. She knew that I "helped" Santa. When I did have a day off, I would take her around the park and enjoy Santa's Village just as any other parent would.
I often wonder how she felt about having a father that was basically Santa all the time. Other fathers were firemen, managers and such, but hers is a year round Santa…all of her life. She could not tell her friends as no one would believe her. Think about it. Here is a child who has been to Santa's House, seen the frozen North Pole, feeds the reindeer, rides in a sleigh and can do it when ever she pleases. (Thanks to all the props at the park.)
I was always busy at Christmas time of course. She would come see me at one of the locations I might be working at. I travel a lot and did back then too, so I was rarely home during the Holiday Season. I imagine her memories of childhood at Christmas are "Dads gone again." Which I was. I can count on one hand the Christmas Eves and Christmas Days she and I have been together.
I do believe her childhood was tainted by me and my job. My wife and I told her there was a "real Santa" but I don't think the magic of Santa was ever there for her. How could it be? I did take her to see Santa when she was little, but you could see it in her eyes she wasn't buying it. After she grew up a bit, Holly often joked that if she wanted to see me all she had to do was walk into any mall and I would be sitting in center court.
Our memories of Santa relate to her and I doing things together. Each year for about eight or nine years, I would photograph her sitting in Santa's Chair by herself at the park. I now have my daughter growing up in pictures in that chair. She filmed a couple commercials with me along with some print work.
I was asked by some other Santas why I just didn't try to hide the fact I was Santa from Santa's Village. That way she could enjoy the magic. How would she feel though when she found out? The daughter of a very famous Santa once told me to never hide the facts of what I do from her. In the long run, that was the best advice I ever got.
Today, I think Holly has some very fond memories of Santa and the experiences she got to have. She has a unique perspective on the whole issue. The day she was born she was Santa's daughter and the same is true to this very day. She sees me every now and then in full regalia and when people get excited to see "Santa" she just smiles and says, "That's just my Dad."
Thanks Holly for sharing and this "Santa" will always keep your name in his good book.