This will be my 11th year portraying Santa Claus with any real determination and focus. In that time, I have grown (figuratively and literally!) to not only respect the opportunity that I have in the suit, but to cherish the time I have in the suit.
We have all heard it said, "you never really can understand until you are in the suit" and I can attest to that. It's an amazing rollercoaster and you never can expect what's around the corner as I, like most, have been thrown a few curveballs here and there.
This season is almost 100% booked and while it's not only going to be busy, I am adding a new wardrobe, new belt and buckle, new boots, new items for my Santa show, new giveaways, and a new custom ornament based on my mailbox design for special visits. Not replacements, just additions. Will all of these new things make me a better Santa? The obvious answer is, "NO."
When I was in high school, I was hired by a family friend to work as a roofer. I would learn to spot repairs that were needed, reroof a house, and treat wood shake. One thing that I was not prepared for was the experiences and lessons I would learn from this trusted father figure in my life. He has now since passed away but recently I heard his words ringing in my head and I thought I would share...
Mr. Brown had one of the biggest roofing companies in our area with one major competitor, a newer business that seemed to be everywhere. While our company had two older tiny little pickups and modest equipment, the competitor was seen around town with a full size truck fleet, brand new equipment, and trailers with their logos everywhere. I remeber one afternoon while on a roof with him, one of those shiny big trucks drove by and the driver honked and waived. As they drove off, I made a comment about how we should get a truck like that. His response was, "Why?" He explained,
"Can we not do everything our job entails and to the best quality standard? His company has been around for five years and in that time, would you like to know how many customers have come to us because they were not happy? While they were out buying stuff in their first year of business, in my first year, I was walking door to door, and doing the best possible job I could do, treating every customer like they were my first but that they could be my last. "I have never seen a need for the shiny and new because what I have gets the job done and leaves my customers happy."
It was a year or two after that conversation that the competitor filed for bankruptcy and was gone. Mr. Brown kept going until he decided to sell the business and retire.
I found myself, while I sent off another payment for something new and shiny, Mr. Brown's word enter my mind. Now, what's the point of the story? I'm not going to tell you to stop buying things because, let's face it, new and shiny is pretty fun sometimes, but...time, effort, and training will always come out as the victor in our Santa portrayal. I am fortunate to not be in an area that is saturated by Santas. I have more than enough work in my area and I'm certainly not competing with other Santas. Time and effort is always spent on the "stuff" for the coming season but are we taking time to prepare our minds and hearts?
May each of us not forget or lose sight of the fact that our inner Santa, our knowlege, our heart, our experience, must ALWAYS come first in our seasonal preparations...each and every child needs this to be our focus. The new shiny buckle, suit, or boots will NOT make you a better Santa. What is on the outside is not what makes you Santa. We have an amazing opportunity coming soon. We will put on a suit and create lasting memories for those we visit. Be your best, study, read, ponder how to be your best. That's my focus for this season. Finding ways I can be better.
Thank you Santas! I am grateful for this community and for the sharing that takes place here. I cannot imagine portraying Santa isolated, not being able to share or learn from each others experiences. I am grateful for you and I can certainly say there are some giants and mentors here that I respect immensely...keep sharing!