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Creating Your Back Story


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I auditioned for the role of an angel in the Nativity play at school. I didn't get it. I auditioned for Mary; didn't get it. So I made up the character of the sheep who sat next to Baby Jesus. Nicole Kidman

Although he started out as pagan as the next demi-god, Nick was eventually converted to Christendom, while I was still firmly embedded in a more magical culture - - the fairies, the gnomes, the elves that Nick wound up using at the workshop. Frankly, we came from elf and fairy stock, and that was never going to change. However, Nick was happy to underplay his lineage to reach the greatest number of children, and he looked to Nicholas of Myra for inspiration and an occasional fashion idea. L.M. Royse, Santa Nana - - the Chronicles of Santa’s Sister

Greetings. My name is Santa Nana, and I am Santa’s SISTER.

As far back as Aristotle, in Poetics, story tellers have created “back stories” to help them understand their characters in an intimate way. When you know where your character grew up, who his parents were, where he went to school, what sports he played, his favorite color - - then your presentation can be more creatively defined.

In written form, back stories are usually revealed, partially or in full, chronologically or otherwise, as the main narrative unfolds. However, a story creator may also invent parts of a back story or even an entire back story, solely for their own use in writing (or performing) the main story and never reveal it to the audience.

Creating your particular interpretation of your Santa character is as individual as you are, but also requires that some common “fact” parameters be applied. Take the opportunity to sit down and outline a narrative of your own. Use your unique special talents, but also research how other Santa’s answer the basic questions:

What is your wife’s name? I just call her “the missus.”

Who’s your favorite reindeer? Rudolph.

How old are you? So old I can’t even remember!

Incorporate modern books and movies into your interpretation. Have you read the Polar Express? The Life and Times of Santa Claus? Do you know about the Elf on a Shelf? When I encounter children in a mall at Christmas time I always ask, “are you going to see Santa? I KNOW HIM!” This is a line from the movie “Elf” and kids adore it.

Santa myths are constantly in flux. While at one time “naughty” children could be stuffed in a sack, whipped and carried off to Spain (or simply given switches and coal), today we accept all children as “good” and no real punishment is ever really imposed. We have done away with the dark and frightening figures that accompanied Santa in times past (Krampus, Zwarte Piet). For health reasons, Santa no longer smokes a pipe (or cigarettes!), but he and the missus vacation in Hawaii in the off season - - a great addition to our new 21st century mythology.

Santa’s sister? Why not? We have had recent movies where Santa has had a brother “Fred.” Mrs. Santa was “created” over a hundred years ago. Characters such as Befana, a flying witch who delivers presents in Italy, have existed even longer:

In popular folklore Befana visits all the children of Italy on the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany to fill their socks with
and presents if they are good or a lump of
or dark candy if they are bad. Being a good housekeeper, many say she will sweep the floor before she leaves. The child's family typically leaves a small glass of
and a plate with a few morsels of food, often regional or local, for the Befana. She is usually portrayed as an old lady riding a
through the air wearing a black
and is covered in
because she enters the children's houses through the
. She is often smiling and carries a bag or
filled with candy, gifts, or both.

My name “Nana” comes from a distant relative, the goddess Nanna, who it was believed was resurrected by the god Odin after dying from grief at the loss of her husband, the demi-god Baldr. There are many recorded stories about how she was incredibly beautiful. Odin is often considered the first of mythological characters to embody the spirit of Santa.

Among early Germanic tribes, one of the major deities was
. A number of similarities exist between some of Odin's escapades and those of the figure who would become Santa Claus. Odin was often depicted as leading a hunting party through the skies, during which he rode his eight-legged horse, Sleipnir. In the 13th-century Poetic Edda, Sleipnir is described as being able to leap great distances, which some scholars have compared to the legends of Santa's reindeer. Odin was typically portrayed as an old man with a long, white beard -- much like St. Nicholas himself.

Since ancient times, the hearth was held sacred in primitive belief as a source of beneficence, and popular belief had elves and fairies bringing gifts to the house through a magic portal.

What an adventure it has become to create Ms. Santa Nana!

I appreciate all the love and support from every one of you.

Be good, for goodness sake!

Santa Nana, BSC

Santa Nana’s tip of the week: Please care about spelling. It is an indicator of your respect for the English language, and the people who read and speak it. If you think English should be the official language in the USA, I am especially pointing a finger at you. Comprendo? Wie oft am Tag schaust du dich im Spiegel an? Your computer and your phone have spell check features. I promise - - they do. Take a moment to use them before you post your texts, blogs and comments. An old trick I learned in school: read your text out loud before finalizing it to hear how it “flows.” As Santa characters, you should subscribe to a higher level of behavior than mere mortals. Yes, I keep saying that we have to live up to a higher standard because we are role models. That is part of the responsibility of being adored by children all over he world. Also, sign up for a “word of the day” e-mail. You’ll learn lots of really cool stuff. Try www.dictionary.com


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