Several months ago I had a conversation with my wife that had become pretty intense. "Just once," she said, "I would like to have dinner with John and not Santa." Between her words and so many eye opening events and lessons throughout 2012 I learned that not only did I want to do more in my life in other areas that perhaps I had neglected, but I also learned and felt how important it is to maintain and keep the magic of Santa sacred and somewhat secret.
Now, based on the response of my last blog entry where I announced my intentions I came away with the feeling that folks believed that if I shaved I would no longer be Santa. That is the farthest thing from the truth. In fact, for me it goes towards the opposite. I shave so I can be a better Santa. As someone who is active int he community and who gives back to it, I can give and do things as both Santa and myself. And if I would ever (not planning to) slip up then Santa doesn't get tarnished. I am free to do things even as Santa discreetly as was St. Nicholas' original design.
Still, in a world where Santas are seen everywhere all the time (and not just in December) I personally feel that we do an injustice to children and to the magic of Christmas by mere overkill. In my community I have been given the honor of being the Town Santa. Well, as such I want to make it as special as I can for the children. I don't want them to see me everyday and then turn around and say mundanly "Oh, that's just Santa" at Christmas because seeing Santa isn't special. I want them to have the magical visits that I remember having. My mentor, Jay Long, never grew a beard. None of us need one, truly, because if we are truly Santa then the whiskers do not matter. What matters is the heart behind it. I have a lot of heart to give to this community, both Santa and my home one. Most importantly I gave a gift to my wife.
Last weekend I had an appointment with the stylist. As I have been cast as the Duke of Clarence for a production of Richard III by Shakespeare I am now sporting my natural color of hair and a matching goatee and mustache. The beard is gone and I actually feel much better about the anonymity for this Santa Claus. As an actor, musician, minister and public volunteer I know and have already experienced doors opening. As for Santa, the doors are open and all of my clients from the past year are positive about the transition. My heart is in the right place and they all know it.
New Years Eve was a special evening for my wife and I. As we sat at dinner I looked into her eyes and reminded her about what she had said those months ago. "Here is your chance," I teased her. We smiled at one another and enjoyed the changing of the year together.
Never be afraid of change, or a razor. Sometimes the best way to find out how to be better at what you do is by making a change. May we all learn more and spread the magic in our own ways in this new year!