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A Right Jolly Old Elf

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You are not the real Santa Claus

Michael Rielly

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Normally I don't pay much attention to any of the Santa Facebook groups. Wading through all the egos, tantrums, and prima donnas is nothing less than exhausting. There is so much chest thumping going on over there it won’t be long before one Santa climbs to the top of the Empire State Building. Of course as soon as the first one starts his climb, it wouldn't be long before others joined in – all claiming to have thought of the idea first. And instead of Faye Wray, the Santas would be carrying their business cards – stuffing them in every window as they all raced to the top.

But I digress.

There is a Santa on Facebook, let’s call him “Santa Munchausen”, who compares what he refers to as "fake bearded Santas" to “fake hamburgers”. His logic is difficult to follow, but it seems what his trying to say is that anyone hiring a traditional bearded Santa is somehow being cheated out of the “real” experience. He compares it to someone ordering a hamburger, but is disappointed when they are served a soy-burger instead. Nice job Santa Munchausen. Not only have you managed to insult me and my fellow “fake” bearded Santas, but you’ve also managed to insult countless vegetarians who prefer veggie-burgers over hamburgers. And as if his insult to the millions of vegetarians around the world wasn't enough, he continued his rant, boasting how he could easily unseat any “fake bearded Santa” from any gig because he is a “real Santa”.

Quick! Someone check the top of Empire State Building. I think we have a winner.

Sorry Santa Munchausen, but portraying Santa Claus is a lot more than just hair growing on your face. Just because a guy looks like Jerry Garcia, doesn’t automatically make him Santa Claus. Any “real Santa” will tell you that.

I’ve been a “fake beard” Santa for 21 years now and proud of it! Unless of course I do the creative counting like some who include all the years since first putting on a Santa Claus suit. That would be 41 years by the way. And although my beard is very realistic, I don’t rely solely on the whiskers to pull off being Santa Claus. It takes a lot more than that to convincingly portray Santa Claus. Any real Santa will tell you that too.

As a “fake bearded Santa”, I’d say I'm in pretty good company: Jim Yellig, Charles Howard, Edmund Gwenn, Phil Wenz, Tim Allen, not to mention the entire 2010 inaugural class of the Santa Claus Hall of Fame. I would like to see you pull a gig away from any of them.

My grandfather was Santa Claus for sixty two consecutive years. And we’re not talking about 62 years of one or two appearances a season. This man made appearances all year round. During the busiest times of the year he would make over 30 separate appearances in a DAY!

My grandfather was a “fake bearded” Santa Claus who SHAVED his real beard to portray Santa Claus. Isn’t interesting, that in all the letters to him from United States Presidents, Members of Congress, celebrities, and even His Holiness Pope John Paul II, there is never mention of a “fake beard”; only words of praise, sacrifice, and gratitude. Maybe it’s because the “beard” only matters to those who have nothing else but a beard.

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very true michael...thank you from another "fake bearded" santa

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I don't like those cheap looking fake beards but a nice fake beard is as good as a real bearded Santa and as you said it is more the spirit and attitude that count's ! I have been VERY disappointed in a few Santa's out here in the west who is so full of EGO that they don't care who the run over. I retreated for a while to distance myself and gain perspective. Keep up the good work Mike !

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SantaSteve44039

Posted

Isn't dividing the type Santa as a real bearded Santa or Fake beard Santa, kind of like the division of politics? A politician is a politician whether a Democrat or Republican. A Santa is a Santa whether a designer beard or a real beard.

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I've been in the big red suit for 38yrs now, 30 yrs w/a fake beard and 8 yrs a real beard. I do enjoy actually being able to eat now w/the beard but the fake one was much more full , i've never been able to grow out the nice long beard & mustash (one time a little guy asked me why I don't have a longer beard and i told I kept it shorter to keep it out of my soup!). Santa Smurf from Two Rivers WI

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Santa Paul S Goodell

Posted

I've been in the red suit for 46 yrs first 36 years w/a fake beard and 10 years a real beard. I can say I had just a much fun with both styles. The part I like about the real beard is it dosen't make my nose raw from wearing it all day and if I want to be santa on a day to day basis I can. I did not mide a fake beard at all back then, I had a cheep one to start then went to a more expensive one and went to the best fake beards after that. Now they have some really nice beards that are fake that I really like alot. I am very neutral on Fake or Real Beards. I have to say there are Santa's out there with Fake and Real Beards that I have met in the past that should NOT be playing Santa, I can't explain what makes a great Santa. It's something you feel in your heart and if you have that feeling you know what it is like to be a good Santa, you just feel it. Have you ever left a child you went to visit and said to yourself........now I know why I do this, knowing that child you were asked to visit is terminal and this was his or her wish to see you as the real Santa. I've been there several times before my friends. My heavenly Father has helped me keep it together all these year's for his chosen one's and I thank God every day for that and I would'nt change a thing!

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Santa Buddy Fisher

Posted

Santa Mike, thank you for a great article. I too am a "designer" bearded Santa - for 21 years now. When I started I was in the Air Force and could not have a beard. Since retiring I have tried to grow a beard and cannot. However, I have seen some really "sad" looking "fake" beards and yes I use that term for that reason. I have also seen some Santas with real beards that don't look much better. I agree with Santa Paul, being Santa is in your heart.

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SantadSpirit

Posted

You hit the nail on the head Mike with your reponse. Taking from CW Howard's famous comment "Santa is not made by his beard or clothing but by the love and spirit he exhibits from his heart." Are we not all here to bring happiness to all?? Chest thumping does not belong in our world.

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Santa Allen

Posted

How would the "purists" feel if we who have naturally white hair and beards decided you who bleach and treat your hair were inferior to us naturals? Think about it. Are we better than you? I think not. Santa comes from the heart. What is on your face is only window dressing. It makes no difference if you grew it or took it out of a box..

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I agree with you Santa Michael, his post really got up my nose and I responded to him with something along these lines.

For 4 years I worked with what you call fake beards as I didn't think that I could successfully grow a beard. At the close of business December 24 2005 I decided to try for a real beard and what you see now is the result though I wasn't accepted as a real-beard Santa by my employing Agency until 2007. It isn't as long as I would like and yes, there are times that I might wish I was clean shaven BUT to suggest that I was any less a Santa before the beard than I am now is simply ludicrous. I am a Santa because it is in my heart to be so. I am a Real Beard Santa because it is in my heart to be so. The beard doesn't make me who I am, my heart makes me everything that I am.

The ego of some of them, the guy that caused the fuss with Disney is a good example, just makes it so much more important that Santas like you and I and many of those in here reach out and help the newcomers learn the lore and the patience and above all, the humility, required to really portray Santa as he should be portrayed. Just as I was taken under another's wing and showed the real side of being Santa, so each of us should reach out to others and help them understand. It is in our industry's best interests that we each reach out and help others along the way,

I seem to recall something from the Book that speaks perfectly to this obligation: "...freely you have received, freely give."

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Kris Claus

Posted

Bravo.

According to the logic of that guy, real booted Santa's are better than fake booted ones.

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Santa Tim Connaghan

Posted

Santa Michael.

I am so sorry to hear of this 'so-called' Santa who made the many statements you mentioned. I have been real-bearded for over fifteen years. But the 29 years prior to that, it was a designer bearded Santa. And some of my greatest memories, my early public recognitions, and the reason I continue my work as Santa all these years, came from those early years as a designer Santa.

I too, do not have the time to monitor all of the various Facebook sites, nor respond to all of the kind requests to join in some of the fun that Santas enjoy via the social networks. So I am sorry I missed the aforementioned postings

But making any statements that belittle or pick on anyone is strictly being an arrogant bully. And in just attacking others, this person has proven that he is does not deserve to wear the red suit. He really needs to rethink his position as Santa. An maybe he needs to give it up.

I do understand there is the pride that many real bearded Santas have in what they do, as they have taken a different approach to being Santa. But I also know of the special pride that many designer bearded Santas have in their portrayal of Santa. Both have their special category.

But in God’s eye, neither is better nor greater than the other.

Of the thousands of Santas I have met over the years, I think I have met just about every shape, size, character and personality of a Santa, as one can imagine. Some are Real Bearded and many are designer bearded. Some are quiet and just do a little charity work and some are bold and electric and are mostly businessmen.

In-between there is everyone else. We even have ladies who portray Santa and a very large group of Jewish gentlemen who also fill Santa's boots.

And the special bond that ties all of them together is the true element behind the work of Santa, Charity and Giving. Yes, some do it for charity and some also get paid to wear the red suit. But most all continue the work of Santa and everyone that I know does some elements of charity and giving as part of their work.

And the true Santas, no matter where they fit in this industry, have a respect for their fellow Santas.

Only a few men that I have met don’t carry the spirit of Santa Claus, and all of these are actors. They audition and sometimes appear in films and commercials and in most cases, don’t even own a decent Santa Suit.

They portray Santa, but want nothing to do with the real work of Santa. And that is where I think this Santa fits in. A few of the “Actor” Santas, truly believe they are better than those Santas who both work and act. And yes they do get the commercials, but they don’t really care about the children or the Spirit of Christmas.

Here are two other notes for our “pompous’ Santa.

In the few surveys I have done with Santas, I asked about their employment or past careers. From this I found one of the largest categories listed in the surveys, was public safety. Yes, Policemen and Firemen who volunteer annually to be Santa Claus and all of them are designer Santas. Are you going to tell me that any real bearded Santa is better that these gentlemen?

And what about the United States Marine Corps Reserve and Toys for Tots. What started as a simply project to distribute some hand-knit dolls in 1947 has grown today to distributing over 16 million toys to over 7 million children. And none of the Marines have beards! They and all of their volunteers have it in their hearts!

I would say that these Marines have more Santa Spirit in their little pinky finger that our purported Santa has in his entire body.

Francis Pharcellus Church, in his editorial response to Virginia O’Hanlon had this to say, “Thank God! He (Santa) lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.” What Church was saying is that the Spirit of Santa Claus lives in the hearts of all mankind. It is the reason the legends and work of St. Nicholas and Santa Claus have perpetuated for the past seventeen centuries.

I believe that other than the Santa in question, the many Santas I have mentioned above, all have the Spirit of Santa Claus and Christmas in their hearts. I know it is not the suit. It is not the big round stomach. And it is not the beard. It is what we and millions of others have in our hearts.

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Having been a "real bearded" only the last few years I spent many year as a traditional Santa and must simply say Thank you Michael.

I would never think of insulting anyone by refering to them as a fake Santa. For many years the primary presentation of Santa has been those with traditional wiskers that they remove nightly. We all owe a great deal of thanks to those who came before us and established the quality presentation of the beloved Saint Nicholas.

It was never about real or traditional beards it is about what God has placed in our hearts and our mission to share that love with all we come in contact with each and every day throughout our lives.

Those Santas chasing the next big appearance, big pay check or publicity weither "real" or traditional bearded need to realize they are not Santa. They are actors simply playing a role for their own reward. Real Santas put on the suit for the rewards and blessings they bring to others and an opportunity to share the real glory that is the Lord with those around them.

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Santa Paul G

Posted

Santa Mike you hit the nail on the head. I cannot grow a beard only a goatee. I have upgraded my fake beard over the last couple of years. I have had many people think I was a real bearded Santa with my glue on. I think it is how you protray yourself and your attitude towards wanting to bring joy, love and happiness to children that makes you a real Santa. Anytime we put the children first we are on the right Santa Path.

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Tim Cavender

Posted

I have been

a traditional bearded Santa for nearly 40 years. I can honestly say that having a designer beard has not hurt me in the least. I have more bookings this year than ever before including 4 years at the Georgia Governors mansion, a feature story on CNN, several magazine cover stories and a regional television commercial. As I have always said, It's not the beard that makes a great Santa, but it's the person behind the beard.

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Santa Laureate

Posted

real beard ---fake beard why does one compare?

Santa come through the heart

Santa is everywhere

Why must one boast and brag

and claim he is the real Santa Claus

It harms what we all try to do It messes up our cause

Santa is a jolly old dude

He cares about all you see

and remember to just be me

smile love laugh and joke

and allow time to fly

it is not about popularity

It is not about real or fake beards

it is not what you feel

it is what you portraying the personna

that becomes the REAL DEAL

its about the joy of Christiallow time to fly

all will remember you as Santa

as the me goes by

quit trying to be a superstar

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John Johnson

Posted

Another reason why I am going back to the traditional beard, to get rid of the "diva" attitudes in the Santa world. Great post Mike, I fully agree with you.

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Singing Santa

Posted

Here is the real question! If everyone of us was to lose our beards tomorrow, both real and fake could there still be enough evidence to convict us of being Santa?

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Big Jim Santa

Posted

Big Jim Santa .

I wear a head and beard peaces and to me its not the beard that makes a Santa but it's the love given to all who recive it.

And for me like in the bible the least of the little ones you love that comes to me and every child or grownup needs some TLC from thoughs who are willing to go that exstra step for we all need a hero young or old .

So to my Christmass family you are to be blessed because of the big loveing hearts you all have and like my brothers and sisters I agree with them.

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Santa Bob Claus

Posted

I also believe that it is not the Suit or the Beard or the size, but the True reason the Gentleman behind this Outfit is what He is trying to accomplsh. If He Loves CHRISTmas first of all and Especially Children and can Smile, Even during the Most Difficult Times. He has the True HEART of a SANTA. This is My Belief. God Bless All SANTA,s. Bob Murphy.

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Santa Bob Claus

Posted

I also believe that it is not the Suit or the Beard or the size, but the True reason the Gentleman behind this Outfit is what He is trying to accompilsh. If He Loves CHRISTmas first of all and Especially Children and can Smile, Even during the Most Difficult Times. He has the True HEART of a SANTA. This is My Belief. God Bless All SANTA,s. Bob Murphy.

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Santa Arthur

Posted

The important thing is to be the best Santa that you are capable of being and that starts inside you. Good Santas come with both types of beards and some of the best designer bearded Santas are hard to distinguish from the real thing.

Santa Arthur

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