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The Life and Times of Santa Claus WV

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Time Passes By

John Johnson

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Boy, I didn't realize how long it has been since I have written a blog entry here. Well, things have been rather busy, and it seems that are beginning to again for this year. However, as I have been busy doing various things my wife, Michelle, had me cleaning out a closet here in my workshop. I came across a real treasure there. In a frame that I had forgotten about was a photo of my first "real" outing as Santa Claus. I was flooded with memories. I have included it in my gallery for you to see.

It was the Christmas of 1983, and I was in the first grade. Mrs. Hudson, my teacher, had asked for volunteers to be in our Christmas pageant in front of the whole school. As she announced the roles, and then announced the role of Santa, my hand shot up like a rocket. Looking back now it seemed that it was meant to be. The feeling I received from being allowed to be Santa was as if an unseen torch was placed into my hand. And I was on top of the world, literally.

My mother, a PTO/homeroom mother, had heard of my responsibility and set away that very evening making me a Santa suit. Out of some red material she fashioned a pull over coat and a hat. On both the coat and hat all borders were lined with white cotton balls. The jacket also received three large white felt circles to represent buttons. Then came the coton ball beard. I also had red sweat pants and one of Mom's large buckled black belts that were in early 1980s fashion. It was the most beautiful thing this kid had seen, and in my mind I would have to compare it to my Santa and Co suit of today. I wore that beard and hat until the beard wore out and a new one was bought by my father at a local five and dime, as they had children's religious pageant costumes and a wise man's white beard. But while wearing the original beard and my hat and red suspenders, Mom managed to take a picture of me in my chair holding to the best of my ability my new born sister, Amy, on my lap. It was her first Christmas and I was her first Santa. What a memory.

I had no speaking lines at all in the pageant. The scene was set that all the little children were to be asleep in their bed with their covers up and around them. As my class mates played "sleep" I was to quietly enter the scene as a chorus of sixth graders sang "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas." I was to walk up to the Christmas tree and then kneel down and emplty my large sack of toys. Then, as the chorus began "Up On The Housetop" I was to waive at everyone and leave the stage, all in silence. That was how it was supposed to go. As soon as the chorus finished their second song I exclaimed as loud as I could the words I have used as Santa ever since, "Ho Ho Ho! Merry Christmas!" There was a large applaud and a giggle and smile from both Mom and my teacher.

That was how it began for me. From there I went on to portray Santa for family and friends and for school each Christmas. I would star in two more pageants in the role as well. I acquired a nicer homemade suit from Mrs. Conn, my fourth grade teacher. Then when I was a teenager a Walmart suit, and then when Michelle and I were married a Corduroy suit. Then up, up, up, from there. I have been given the privilege to be Santa for many children and in many venues over these long years from schools to homes to malls to parades to festivals and parties. So many memories from all of them. This year will make my 27th Christmas Season as Santa Claus. I wonder what new adventures I will encounter and share with you. In all, I was just blessed to be a part of it and to be able to be in so many people's Christmas memories.



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