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Showing content with the highest reputation since 12/03/2009 in Blog Entries

  1. 18 points
    Seeking recognition is a downward path for a legend who performs his tasks in the veil of night. Recently, a fellow portrayer of Santa posted an image on Facebook that they constructed to look like a magazine cover with him on it and several story snips like many publications have on their covers. You may have seen it if they are your friend on Facebook. It looks okay. The composition is good, but the rendering when uploading it to Facebook became distorted it and it is quite pixelated when you look at it from a development standpoint. What got my goat was his choice of accompanied text, “Finally got a little recognition…”. Let me say that his post was all in jest, I am certain. This man is one of the kindest, gentlest, giving souls you will come across. I love him as a brother. Yet his unintended incursion on the spirit of the Claus legend got me more than a little flustered. And I know it would be last thing he would want anyone to get from this posting. If you are in this to seek recognition, get out. Plain and simple. It’s the last thing that the real Santa Claus would have wanted. It’s the antithesis of St. Nicholas, for whom Santa is mostly based. More and more, I see the ego of man rearing its ugly head in the Claus community. And this comes from one of the vainest individuals you would ever loath to meet. My mother, rest her soul, would chuckle and get all sorts of entertainment over my time in front of the mirror as a youth. As my hair fell out and turned grey and I stated portraying Santa, it became less of an issue of ego and more of an asset to putting forward the best portrayal I know how. And yet attention to Felix Estridge is the last thing I want. Last year, I was elected as President and Executive Director of the Board for Lone Star Santas Charities, Inc.® I tried to refuse but the Board felt it was best moving forward with the group as the current President & Executive Director was retiring from guiding the organization. I still felt awkward in that it might bring me some kind of recognition that I did not ultimately want. But, for the good of the organization and at their begging, I accepted. When asked for my name after having had news footage or news photos shot of me as Santa, I tell them “Kris Kringle” and wait for the response. I will never give my real name unless I am forced to do so, and, even then, I have been known to refuse. I always tell them that the magic for people remains in the mystery of the legend of Santa Claus. They then understand. And all who portray him should strive to keep that magic alive. As I recently defended, I am no one’s arbiter, police, or any authoritarian on portraying Santa. I merely offer this perspective as a personal opinion from simple observation over time. I am less learned than many, many others. I just happen to be passionate about this issue. I will never give up trying to protect the legend. Do no harm to the legend.
  2. 18 points
    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.
  3. 13 points
    ClausNet has, in my opinion, has always been an informative resource to Santas of all levels. In comparison with other social media, FB and other inter web Christmas enthusiasts sites and groups I get the perception that ClausNet is much kinder. Sure, we have spirited and vastly divided topics that are discussed. Some of which become very passionate and polarizing and emotionally driven. Let’s face it, as a Christmas enthusiast, we have certain levels of passion. Without that passion, I would not be motivated to blog, and you would not take the time to read it. Recently (not on CN) I have noticed an upsurge in what appears to me to be a bunch of old guys hanging around waiting for Christmas again and since its not here yet, have become grumpy or perhaps that is their natural tendency. I doubt they would participate in a poll or survey on my assumption but that if neither here nor there. On FB, in the last few weeks I have noticed Santa posting photos or their new suit, new boots, or something trade related. In variably someone chimes in with criticism. Blasting the poster photo, what he bought, how it fits, how they should NEVER wear boot spats, never this beard or that. Yes, granted some are asking outright for thoughts on the photo. This is good, its how we learn, how we make the best of what we got. To see someone (supposedly a brother in red) tear into their photo with a vengeance. There are ways that constructive criticism can and should be offered. Destructive criticism however, can suck the spirit right out of someone. It can cause hurt feelings, and in the very least not help. By using constructive criticism you can say the very same thing as a destructive critic without sucking the spirit out of someone. I am very glad that ClausNet offers more information than any school provides, the knowledge base is huge and growing daily. The information is here, you do have to work to seek it out it is not spoon fed and it is like finding that golden nugget that gives you that “aha” moment. ClausNet is so much Kinder and Gentler than most places but, it can only remain so by those who participate who keep their minds on being helpful and not hurtful. Thanks for reading. Santa Marty santaforhonolulu.com
  4. 12 points
    I have had enough of the chest beating like a gorilla in the wild trying to intimidate their perceived competition. I am posting text from a website. To me, this text is profound. It is what we who portray the legend and spirit of Christmas (Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, or whatever name you choose to give the legend) should embrace every single day. I am fairly certain I know who owns the site. From the text below, you can tell you they do not want to be identified. And that (being unidentified) is the purpose. "The real Santa Claus worked in secret. And he worked to remain anonymous, too. His interest was in giving — not taking. He had nothing to sell. Money was the furthest thing from his mind. Many people have tried to change that over the years. But Santa — the REAL Santa — has not forgotten where he comes from." - Anonymous When you dress as Santa for every day public view and it is not as a contracted/scheduled appearance, you do this for yourself. You may say that you do it for the children, but that is a passive aggressive way to boost your own ego. We are ruining the legend when we do this. Seeing Santa everywhere in every possible location makes him so much less than special. It dilutes the mystery tremendously. And hundreds if not thousands of men are doing it daily with no respect or regard for that legend. Its all about them. And it does nothing more than drive people away from the real reason for the season, too. And He is why we have this celebration. The sacrifice of His Son is also disrespected when we push ourselves on others. The ego in men's hearts and minds is killing the legend. What a shameful lot we have become. I am to the point where I know where Jesus came from when he drove the money changers out of the temple. I feel like I should pick up a stick at get to clearing out the temple myself.
  5. 11 points
    It wasn’t a deliberate decision, but for the past two years I’ve been on Santa sabbatical. It’s felt a little weird, especially this year; kind of like the feeling an active church-goer gets when they’ve missed worship for a few Sundays. It’s like the rest of the week feels a little off when you’ve missed church. Stress has been a factor, along with my wife’s health struggles, and a recent transition from care center chaplaincy to serving a new church in a new town. I did some of my best “Santa-ing” at the care center, but also felt the biggest push-back I’ve ever experienced, from people whose strongly-held religious beliefs had convinced them that Santa was an inappropriate person to appear there (and that a pastor-type person had no business portraying him). There’s a lot more tolerance at my new setting, and health concerns aren’t nearly as big as they’ve been. So let’s raise a toast to the New Year, 2019, with the hope that it’s going to be a great year for all us Jolly Old Elves, Mrs. Clauses, elves and reindeer! Peace! Health! Love! Santa Dan
  6. 10 points
    This is an unsolicited review of beard balms that I have tried. These are my personal opinion and are the results of my personal use. My beard is used for seasonal work so I have to keep it in the best shape possible. Thus, I am very particular to what I use. Take what you will from this. I hope it helps my fellow Santa Clauses and others who grow their own beards to decide what works best for them, or, if they do not use a beard balm yet, to start using one as it definitely improves overall beard health. Wonder Balm, by Beard Commander: This was my first foray into a beard balm. As with most beard balms, their scent selection is limited. They currently offer their Original scent (prominently sandalwood), Supreme Peppermint (light scent), and Old School Pipe (strong yet smooth). This product comes out of the tin easily but might feel somewhat grainy at first. After rubbing it between your palms for just a few seconds, that graininess disappears completely. It is a really smooth application. Taking your time to work it in all the way down to your skin is the best way to get your money’s worth in a beard balm. A great side effect of Wonder Balm is that it also an excellent skin conditioner. Many who grow a beard know of the dry skin that can occur from time to time. One application and the dry skin goes away, completely. The scents are awesome!!! The Old School Pipe is my favorite of their current 3 scents. It can easily last well over 24 hours. The Supreme Peppermint does not last quite as long, but it lasts at least a full 12 hours, if not longer. The Sandalwood is the faintest of the three, but it has its unique characteristics, too; smooth, calming, and fresh. The softness of my beard is very apparent and it lasts all day. They even supply instructions on use and application. http://beardcommander.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=1&zenid=df739d0de18c48863a28a3609f25e208 Bodacious Beard Balm, by Sleigh Master: This was my second product to assess. Their scent selection is quite varied, actually. They offer anything that Santa Claus could want; Candy Cane, Christmas Pie, Jingle Berry, Three Kings, Christmas Tree, and their latest, Secret Santa for those who just want conditioning and control but no scent to compete with other products that Santa might be wearing. The Sleigh Master has given quite a bit of thought into his product line. He also offers beard oils in the same scents as his beard balms. The consistency is nice and smooth, no graininess at all but like the smoothness of lip balm and thicker. The 2 scents I have tried are their Candy Cane and Christmas Tree. They are absolutely wonderful when opening the tin, very sharp, crisp, and fragrant. Application is smooth and easy to work down to the skin, too. This is less oily than Wonder Balm but it does not condition my skin under my beard as well. In fact, I will have some dryness at the end of the day on my chin like it is pulling oils out of my hair follicles and skin. The scents wanes after about 20-30 minutes and then it is gone except for the softness which lasts only for 3-4 hours. Another application is needed at that point. If you were to use the beard oil in conjunction with the beard balm, the scent will last longer and the softness does, as well, but this requires multiple applications throughout the day. http://www.sleighmaster.com/product-category/beard-balms/ Beard Balm, by The Art of Man: This was my last product to try out. They have quite a few scents, too; Angry Apple, Creed, Lust, Sniper, T3, and Winter Warrior. They also offer these same scents in oils, like Sleigh Master. The 2 that I have tried are Winter Warrior and Lust. These are similar in consistency to the Sleigh Master product as there is no graininess, just smooth, firm balm. The Lust is an awesome scent and seems like it would work well with a similar cocoa-scented cologne I have for Santa. The Winter Warrior has an over smell of spearmint and is nothing like I have smelled before, it seemed almost candy-like. Both scents also did not last long, like Sleigh Master. The softness lasted longer with this product than Sleigh Master. Their oil also helped rejuvenate the scent, but required multiple applications to keep it going. http://www.aombeards.com/shop/?category=Balms Wonder Balm by Beard Commander is by far my #1 choice of beard balms. This is because these products do more than what is advertised by their scent lasts longer so much than any other beard balm I have tried. As I come across other offerings, I will post them, too. Thanks for taking time to read through all of this. I hope it might help someone with keeping their beard in the best possible shape.
  7. 9 points
    When I was a little boy I thought (as many little boys do) that my Dad had the greatest job in the world. He was the sergeant of police for a little town in West Virginia called Nitro. My Dad would drive down our street and would turn on the sirens for my friends and I who ran out to wave at him as he passed - such an Opie-like thing to do. But at Christmas my Dad had a very important job to perform. He was the chauffer of an international celebrity. When things were calm in Nitro my Dad would drive Santa Claus all over town to visit as many as 30 families an evening. At the end of the evening it never failed that Santa Claus would stop at our house to rest before Dad would drive him to a little field outside of town where he had landed the sleigh and tied the reindeer. Of course, I now know Santa was none other than Santa Claus Hall of Famer Jay Long. As I look back I can only imagine that he was hot and uncomfortable. But Jay (MY Santa to this day) would sit in the floor of my living room with me and play with my toys and talk with me. He would laugh and have fun with me just as if I was the first child of those 30 visits. He always seemed just as happy to see me as I was to see him. Despite the discomfort and heat, despite the family that was waiting for him at home, and despite not having his dinner Santa Claus took time to play with a little boy and truly give him a memory that sticks with him to this present day. I have learned quite a lot from Jay. He is my number 1 mentor. But that scene goes with me everywhere. I learned from Santa what it truly means to give of yourself to a child who believes. And that is what I strive to do. As I look back on those visits I am reminded of the thousands of men (and women) who have visited so many little boys and girls in towns across this whole wide world. I think of how they went out, often in the snow and cold, to see each child. I think of the discomfort, the warm houses and even warmer suits. I think of how they missed meals and their own Christmas festivities with their families. I wonder why they did it. Then I realize that it was for that smile of a child. I realize that they sacrificed for that one precious thing. A child's hopes and dreams meant something. You know what? They still do. More than silver, gold, sacrifice, or anything else you can imagine. Many of these folks we will never know. Each had a life, dreams, hopes, and beliefs as all people do. Because of fate, they will remain nameless citizens of the past who, outside the red suit, are lost to time save for being Santa to a child one Christmas long ago. Their face might be recalled as someone finds an old picture album or something of the sort and they are pointed out. Perhaps a department store archive holds their names and old addresses. But to the world at large they are Santa and Santa alone. But they were linked in their belief of making glad the heart of childhood. They truly were servants of childhood. I guess I am a horse and buggy in a jet age. I am truly sorry, but the more I strive to be a simple "Hometown Santa" I find that I am not up to the standards of the "new generation." I could care less about being a year-round Santa millionaire and star. Santa isn't the star of Christmas, never has been. He is a herald to the Reason. But not the way it is seen today. It seems to me that folks are too busy getting all of the bells and whistles without the propulsion system that drives a Santa Claus. Why, in a recent search and examination of websites belonging to Santas I found more posts about a beard than I did about how important it is to the Santa to bring joy to a child. Real or not, with a good picture on the page and public knowledge of what he looks like, Santa doesn't have to advertise that he has a beard. That is vanity. While viewing a video posted I read the title was something like "Thanks from Santa." It saddened me that the word "children" was never really mentioned - it was a pitch for more and bigger business along with a five minute speech on where he had performed. I read posts both for and against children seeing multiple Santas in one place. I hear "I, I, I," and "Me, Me, Me." "I am Santa here." "They should hire ME for that instead of the Santa they have." Product after product touts that "I am the REAL Santa." Social media has created a monster in that all of these things are celebrated in group after group. Read some of the daily posts. Folks are too busy worrying about the physical appearance and about getting the other Santa's gig. Instant stardom is the unachieved fashion of the community. Not sure why, as everyone seems to truly be an expert. Education in any field is a good thing. But every teacher SHOULD NOT have his or her own school! I find it all so EGO centered and so contrary to the pattern set down by not only those Santas who have gone before but also St. Nicholas. Would he even recognize us as carrying on his legacy? In my studies of his character and life I have to logically conclude that he would not. If we have departed that much from the model, then I am saddened and afraid for what the future holds! In all of this nonsense, we are forgetting what it means to be a Santa. We are forgetting the belief and standard that was given to us - the joy of giving of one's self and the bringing of magic and wonder to children. Not to mention the spreading of the Message of Christmas. We need to stop and reevaluate this thing. I am afraid that the iceberg is ahead. I am trying to post a picture with this blog of a Santa and children from a New Orleans department store circa 1955. Look at the faces of the children, particularly the eyes. Trust and full belief. Then look at Santa. There is a sense of duty and compassion, wrapped in love. Please, evaluate why you put on that suit. Are you in it for the paycheck or fame? Or are you in it to serve? Now more than ever, these little ones need a role model to look up to. It is time that we stop all of the foolish fads and ego trips and get to work!
  8. 8 points
    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!
  9. 7 points
    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!
  10. 7 points
    Many of you know that I shaved my beard completely off after Christmas. It was for personal reasons. Before the holiday season started, I had told my wife that I was considering shaving off everything but my eyebrows after Christmas. She had commented that it had been quite some time since she' seen "the man she married" and that she loved my beard, but, if I were to shave it off, I had to leave the mustache. I told her that I would consider her request. I knew that I would look so much younger without the beard and 'stache, but perhaps leaving the 'stache would not make it where I looked drastically younger. And I told her that I was only shaving once with it starting to grow back immediately to be in the best shape possible for the 2016 holiday season. Like everyone else, my body has changed over time. What was underneath my face frock now? That was my motivation to shave. So I did it. I came back from handing out presents at the hospital on Christmas Day morning, removed my outfit, put on some shorts and went into to get the trimmers. In an effort to surprise Reana, I had said to her in the prior week that I was reconsidering whether to just trim back or completely shave. She had replied each time that it was up to me. So when I passed her to get the trimmer, I told her that I was just taking off the head hair and trimming back the beard some. She was in conversation with her mother but said, "Okay" and went back to their topic. I went into the bathroom and closed the door, locking it to finally make sure the surprise was possible. Then...it happened. I cleaned up, packed up the trimmer, broke out the razor and shaving cream and smoothed it out. "Holy crap," I thought to myself. I looked like a stranger. Lets see what my queen had to say. My mother in-law was the first to see me and her mouth dropped open. Reana had her back to me as I walked into the kitchen and she did not see the look on her mother's face, either. When she heard me walking up behind her, she stopped talking. As I do often, I stopped and put my hands on her shoulders. She reached up with one hand for my face and then looked up at me. Her mouth dropped open and she began crying. I came around in front of her and she buried her face in my smaller tummy and just caressed my face (I'd lost 22 lbs during the holidays). Then she said, "Why?" I told her that it was my plan all along and I what I said was an effort to surprise her. Boy...did that work or what?! I'm as vain as the next person. My mother would have said that I was more vain when I was a teenager. Vanity is about ego and I have tried to live my life with the character of St. Nick without ego. It is not easy. It takes work at putting others before yourself. It is something we all should do in our everyday lives. I call it the "Claus Effect" and its something every single person who chooses to portray the Jolly Old Elf should know & experience first-hand. If you don't, then you should consider your motivation. It can be life changing. An unanticipated observation of this entire thing...the Claus Effect mindset did not leave me. It never crossed my mind before. But it makes sense. It is who I was all along but never really had anything to put it in the forefront of my daily thoughts like the Claus Effect had done. God knows what he is doing. Never doubt it.
  11. 7 points
    I usually wait quite a while before posting to my blog. But this subject is one that I find myself constantly thinking of these days and I feel that it is important to get my thoughts across. If they can be a provoker of thought, then please read on. I hope you leave this entry with a deeper perspective and appreciation for the subject matter. Since the days when a man named Nicholas of Myra walked upon this Earth there has existed a sacred nature to the role of Santa Claus. That bond has been the bedrock foundation for not only the connection of Santa Claus to Christmas but also to the hearts and imaginations of children. You see, children share with Santa Claus their faith, hope, and trust wrapped up in their innermost wishes and needs. To some children, Santa represents someone who loves them and will never judge them. To some he might be the only ear that listens to them. The Santa/child bond is a precious one. Santa is not a childhood celebrity. In fact, he is a childhood servant. Saint Nicholas had a very special bond that brought out the very best in him - a relationship with Jesus Christ. He understood the importance of the Gift that God had freely given and of what it means to be connected with that Gift. Like it or not, that bond is a part of the Santa of today as well. We cannot ignore the significance of the past. Perhaps this message does not enter in to your mind or portrayal as Santa. I use it to illustrate the roots of the character. Saint Nicholas, out of faith, sowed seeds of faith in everything he did. When we decide to take up his mantle, we declare that we are going to do the same. We agree to portray this man in a manner that respects the bond that he created, likewise sowing the seeds that he sowed of faith and hope. With his fully anonymous gift giving, Saint Nicholas truly set a standard that we need to return to today. For 170 plus years the anonymity of the man in the red suit was preserved, becoming a standard. Over the past few decades many have come to the role that have precipitated a shift in the focus of the role. Other priorities, agendas, and philosophies have been brought in to suggest that Santa is an amalgamation of many different things. These have touted him as a mythical creation, even though historical fact proves otherwise. He is declared secular and is further distorted in image and meaning. But none of those who think this way can dispute the bond that Santa has with children, no matter how hard they try. It is emotional, it is spiritual, and thus it is sacred. It is an echo to the true vine of Saint Nicholas, the Wonderworker. Now, I ask you, why would anyone wish to tarnish this beloved figure? Why would anyone dare to desecrate something so sacred to the hearts of children? Has it become a trend? What causes this? Money? Fame? Greed? It is all these things and a lot more. Perhaps in some ways we, the portrayers, have brought it on by making it more than a calling and simple vocation. It is not wrong to make money on Santa as a worker is worthy of his hire. But the motives behind the thing are, in the words of Shakespeare, the rub. Though we are merely actors portraying the part, we each are entrusted with the preserving of that sacred nature. When you look like Santa, when you purposely go out of your way to draw attention to that fact, you are doubly so! As an actor, I have learned many things that have helped me to be Santa. One important lesson is that when the curtain comes down you must return to yourself. Put the character aside and be yourself. It becomes terribly troublesome to maintain a character when you are not required to perform. Charles W. Howard, our legendary educational leader, made a full distinction between self and Santa. As did Jim Yellig, who when not in the suit maintained a post as commander of the American Legion and was a tavern owner. Look at the man who spends more days in the suit than any other man living that portrays Santa Claus, Phil Wenz - he completely separates the hustle and bustle of Santa's Village to be just himself. Take off the costume (both inner and outer) until the next performance. Actors have suffered terrible mental illness for not allowing themselves to do this. That said, I have never played a part that didn't leave something with me. In portraying a character like Santa you don't have to maintain the role 24/7/365 to be enriched. I have learned that you don't need to look the part and dress the part all the time to BE Santa. To be Santa you need to give! And I think that that again speaks to the sacred nature of Santa - he continues to instruct. Over the past many years we have seen quite a bit in our Santa community. The fact that we can still come together as a brotherhood and sisterhood is a testament to the sacred nature of Santa Claus. Would some of the things that have happened never have happened had some taken off the suit? That is for you to ponder and decide. I am in no way degrading anyone for the choices they make. But I am asking you to consider being yourself. When you make an opinion or an action that is not Santa like while you are clearly identifying yourself as Santa Claus, then you must be ready to deal with it. The eyes of children of all ages are ever upon you, as are those of the brotherhood that you represent. We all are looking at you to be your best while carrying the image of Santa Claus. But remember, an officer that wears his badge is on duty. When off duty he takes it off and goes about his life. Santa should be the same way. In both ways, the role is preserved and respected. Both have a sacred duty. With this said, I want to encourage everyone to really think about the calling and vocation of Santa Claus. Think about your place in it. There are children that identify you as this iconic figure of Santa Claus. They share their innermost selves with you. Perhaps they see you outside of the Season in your red shirt and white beard. They immediately recognize you as you as their Santa (yes, you belong to them now). They don't know you as you, they only know Santa. You have made a sacred bond. You have become a memory that can bring joy or hurt. What will your next action bring? I hope that you will ponder this and truly will make a stand for keeping this bond of Santa Claus with the children sacred. Food For thought. Think of what Phil always says. "There is no I or E,G, or O in the word Santa Claus. There is no room for I or EGO in Santa Claus. But there is an US, and it takes all of us to make Santa Claus." "What Matters" One hundred years from now, it will not matter.... What kind of beard you had, designer or real... What kind of suit you wore, velvet or wool... How much money you charged or if you charged at all.... Nor the events you appeared.. Or what group you belonged.... What matters is ... That you played Santa with honesty and integrity..... You shared with your peers to help foster fellowship.. Your conduct exhibited was worthy of Santa... But most importantly what matters.... Knowing that you are blessed to have the opportunity.... to make the world be a little brighter and better because.... As Santa, you were important in the life of a child. Poem Copyrighted Santa Claus Oath Foundation
  12. 7 points
    Yesterday on New Year's Day, my Mrs. Claus and I went out to do a little shopping. There is a very cool country store the next town over. The store is always beautifully decorated but especially at Christmastime. The owners of this store contacted me in December wanting to know if I was available for a photo shoots. Unfortunately I was completely booked so they said that they would just wait and do something in November. Anyway, Mrs. Claus and I went into the store to see if we could pick up a few after Christmas bargains. I asked the person behind the counter if he was the person that contacted me. He looked at my kind of funny as said "Yes. Who are you?" I said, "I'm Mike Rielly." "Were you the same Santa that did the speech in St. Mary's Church on Christmas Eve?", he asked. "That was me", I replied. Now even more confused he asks "Did you shave?" I already know where this is going so I played along. "I did this morning", I said. "Well will you have a beard by November? Because we were thinking you could come in sometime before Thanksgiving for the photo shoot." I explained to him that my beard would look exactly as it did on Christmas Eve. "It grows that fast?" he said. "No", I replied. "But I can glue it on in about an hour." Now you may think you know where I am going with this but you would be wrong. It wasn't the "beard" that they were fooled by. It was the performance. Yes they thought "Mike Rielly" was a real bearded Santa -- but what they were most impressed with was the performance. Based on my talk at the Church on Christmas Eve they thought that I was a much older man. The way I spoke, moved, and interacted with everyone they thought I was in my 60s or 70s! My point is this: It's not the beard. It's the entire performance.
  13. 6 points
    After multiple hacks, clones, excessive drama, I have closed my FB accounts. There is an element of freedom in doing so, and I am glad it is done, fine', over, quit, outahere. Mainly, I am frustrated with FB's lack of interest in controlling cloning accounts. It is as though they simply don't care, or perhaps they are producing the clones themselves to have Billions of accounts, and boost their advertising revenue. What ever the case may be, I'm done playing the game and taking my marbles and going home.
  14. 6 points
    Well it was eight months ago I hung up the badge after 35 years and began retirement. No more call outs in the middle of the night, no meetings no court appearances or out of state travel for training . Finally all the projects that were often planned for Saturdays that never got done are now in progress or completed. I miss the people I worked with but many of my friends who worked with me or in other law enforcement agencies have retired as well. I don't miss the crazy hours or the administrative drama. I have had more time to devote to my hobbies and working on the beards and wigs. What used to take days to complete a wig set I can now do in a day or two now that I have time. I have experimented with some thirty year old sets I had in storage and have refurbished them. If anyone has some old sets that they want to give a second life to contact me. I am looking forward to spring so I can finally get back into the garden and work on the koi ponds. May brings the Santa gathering on Cape Cod which I am looking forward to. I plan to attend more Santa events I never had the time to in the coming years. Given the snow this past winter it was great to be retired and not have to venture out in the storms. Spring can't come soon enough!
  15. 6 points
    I'm sure this has been covered more than a few times but I wanted to address it as well. To all of our wonderful new members that join our ranks...I can assure you, it is NOT a race...find your pace and steady the course my friends. What do I mean? Well, as a new member, for many; it's a GIANT eye opening experience being here. The door to the "North Pole Workshop" has now been open, so to speak, and there are "things" that you never knew existed before for your purchasing enjoyment. A suit you might have looked at with pride the year before, all of a sudden you only see it is the "off the shelf" look. The boots you had before, perhaps you want REAL leather now, that's what SANTA would have...right!? Well, I am all for upgrading, buying, making, and adding new items...but I did not do it all in one year...and no one should feel they have to. Steady the course my friends...you do not have to empty the entire savings account to purchase all of these things at once. Suits, boots, beards, pins, buckles, belts, shirts, bags, props, cards, makeup, and more! Wow...that's just exhausting! There is no one saying that you cannot portray Santa and give a magical experience to a child with "off the shelf" items...it can be done and has many, many times. I'm sure if we all look back at the Santas of our own childhood we would be amazed...while some visited with world class Santas, most of us had very modest and humble materials to make the look. We did not notice the difference It's fun to add to your "box of tools" each year. I personally have a list of my bigger ticket items I'd like to add for the next 5 years ...it does not need to be done all at once. These comments I make for me too as I think we can all fall prey to this need to have better or "the best." I continually look at my own items and it's easy to get sucked into the desire and want to have something better. Perhaps I see something another Santa has and I begin wanting that more than just being happy and blessed with what I have at the moment. There is an obvious lesson to be learned here. What do we think of when we have a child on our knee with a giant list of name brand, top of the line electronics they want for Christmas!? Are we any different? We all are asking Santa for our name brand, top of the line Santa stuff! I would hope that there is no feeling of pressure to upgrade every single item you have at once or even at all. Our biggest effort should be in our inner portrayal - you will add here and there to your outward appearance and it will develop and change over time as you want. Take your time, study, put the giant wad of cash away for the moment, and learn How to BE Santa Claus. How many new members have come and their first question is, "Can someone please tell me where I can buy {fill in the blank}? Show the children they are loved, cared for, special, and that they matter. This is done with your actions, not your suit, boots, buckles, etc. The things do help though, I agree. I am one of the first in line to buy something shiny and new, but we should give ourselves a break and enjoy the ride at a more leisurely pace. We will still get there...and the higher speeds will just mess up our hair. I do love our community here. We are filled with wonderful characters. What amazing work Santas do in the world and the potential difference we can make in someone's life is amazing and powerful. Keep up the good work and enjoy the ride.
  16. 6 points
    I have been away for a while from ClausNet. For that I am sorry, as I notice that a few of my friends have messaged me here and I have not answered them. Of all the Summers I have had thus far, this has certainly been one of the most interesting. I should say this has been an interesting year, as much of it began for me right after the Jim Yellig Workshop. You see, I left that event on a very high note. It was a note that I still feel today. Think of it, those who were there really and truly touched history. It is a history that I am proud of and am ever increasingly growing protective of in my own way. I will explain how and why I say that in a few moments. Needless to say, after touching that history and the honor that goes with it I have began questioning certain aspects in my own personal life with Santa and of the Santa community. Upon my return home I became involved with a discussion of why we do the things we do - especially why we of the real bearded persuasion dress in red all year long. Does it truly benefit the kids was my question. Nearly every Santa I spoke to gave me an "I" statement as opposed to an answer that in my mind showed Santa being used in truly serving children. The conversation was then switched to the possibility of "questionable" behavior from Santas being seen by children. That pretty much started my mind to thinking of ways to preserve and protect Santa rather than exploiting him out of Season. Then came a role that made me ponder further. Many of you know that I am an actor. In June and early July I starred in a production of David Auburn's "Proof", a Pulitzer prize winning play about a mathematician and his daughters. He dies after a long struggle with mental illness and so the play is about his family coping with the possibility of his youngest daughter having the same tendencies. I played the part of Robert, the mathematician. In rehearsal, my question was constantly "is the audience going to think of Robert or of Santa going crazy?" Strong language was modified by my director who knew my concerns. The color red became cursed for me. I did not want Santa associated with this character. Though I ended up with great press over my portrayal of this tortured character the experience left me with further feeling that for myself I must protect Santa from being the object of defamation. I have been studying seriously the subject of acting from workshop to workshop all Summer. I have been given various job prospects within the field as well. To be an effective actor you must also know yourself. After all, acting is immitation of life. I have come to another realization, Santa is not John. Rather, John portrays Santa. Why is this important? Because I feel that many of us in this industry look at ourselves as if we are Santa himself rather than as actors portraying a part. The further I have gone into a study of myself I realize that Basil Rathbone and I have alot in common. He always said that Sherlock Holmes tried to take over his life when not put under control. Santa has become the same for my life. By my becoming a 24/7/365 Santa I find that he has stifled me in so many ways including relationships with family and old friends, career, and creatively. I cannot get additional parts onstage due to my outward appearance as Santa. Musically, I am typecast as a holiday act only. People that I know and love are sometimes stand-offish with me after the Season. I never knew that my biggest blessing and source of outreach in my community could also be a burden. So, after coming this far you might think I am quitting. On the contrary. I am taking my life back for myself and placing Santa where I feel he needs to be - for his protection and for my sanity. Santa is the vehicle by which I spread love and joy, often in a way of secret giving. I often think of Nicholas wrapped in a cloak dropping bags of gold in windows of the needy - which we know he did. I want to use the guise of Santa for that very thing. Also, I am surrounded by two industries that would actually enjoy a Santa that they can get to their specifications. After talking these over with mentors, customers, booking agents, theater folks, and most importantly God and my wife I have come to this decision: I am breaking with modern tradition in order to salvage the historical tradition of Santa - come New Year 2013 I am going to shave my whiskers and take on the search for the best traditional set I can afford. I am going to honor St. Nicholas by using the image for secret giving and good deeds as ever and will continue on as my community's Santa. But the jobs that John can do on his own, John will do without Santa. My prayer is that the Master of St. Nicholas will be seen first and foremost in my life. And if I can use Santa for His glory, I will - as a tool and not as a way of living. I am 34 years old, overweight, and with a history of heart disease in my family. I have to do something about it. When I look back of Santas like Jim Yellig, James Reilly, Charlie Howard, and even my friend Jay Long - and modern friends like Phil Wenz, Mike Reilly, Dutch Schrap, and others - I see a link to the Santa of James Edgar and others who started the tradition in our country purely going back to the secret giving of St. Nicholas. It is a decision that has taken some thought, but I had to make it. I am insuring that if I say or do something stupid in life, Santa will not be the first thing seen and mocked. He will be in a special place each year. Friends, I urge everyone to look inside themselves. Is Santa benefitting you or the children? What about in August or May or whatever other month? Is Santa holding you back? Is he more than a part you portray? Sometimes the reality is that we need to wake up from the dream. Don't stop portaying Santa. After 28 Seasons I am not quitting. Rather, we all must put him into perspective. Trim that chin and spend some time out of red. It actually feels pretty darn good sometimes. If we truly believe that we are called to be Santa and that he enters through the heart then these things won't matter. The love is what matters. Red suit or not we all could use that in our lives.
  17. 6 points
    As I sit and ponder this holiday of Christmas and what it means, my mind often returns to the very root of what it is all about - love. I recall that that first Christmas brought the greatest gift of love ever given, the only Son of God who would later die on the cross for the wrongs of all mankind now and forever. I like to think of the love of a mother, Mary, as she wrapped her new born in swaddling clothes. I like to think that she was overfilled with pride as the shepherds came to see her child, and then seeing that pride overfilled and mixed with wonderment as the Magi came with their gifts. Then my mind moves forward about thirty-three years to a time when that same baby, now a man, hung on that cross and died to raise again the third day. No greater love has there ever been nor will there ever be again. Then, along the same theme of love, I recall a man about three centuries later who loved his fellow man enough to give secretly to take care of their needs. This man suffered persecution in his lifetime for his personal belief and ministry to the cause of that Savior. But he overcame his obstacles by simply giving. What an example of love for all of us was that man, Nicholas. Today, both events are wrapped each year into one package as Santa Claus delivers gifts to the children of the World each and every Christmas. And why does he do this? Because of love, the same timeless message that started it all. We in this Santa Claus community, or Christmas Industry, have joined into something that we often do not realize is greater than ourselves. We are the ones who bare the example, ideals, and principles of Santa Claus to the entire World, and even though we only seem to do it for a short time each year we really do it all the time. The children of all ages are our main focus, but there are others that we often forget. They are the ones who do the same thing that we do - the brothers and sisters of the red suit. You may think that this is not true, but there is too much evidence. When we allow our egos and personal arrogance to get in front of an encouraging word to a brother or sister who might really need it, we are ignoring the very fabric of what it means to be Santa. We are forgetting love which is the very basis for what we do. When you love your fellows it seems that the whole mindset changes. Instead of the thought of someone stealing another's high dollar appearance one can turn it around to being that the children in that area will receive the love from Santa that they deserve. Love, understanding, compassion, and pride in our collective selves is what will make us better Santas - brotherhood. When I think of the Santa Claus Hall of Fame I see the men and why they are truly deserving of the honor of being there. They were the best Santas they could and can be. Why are they? Because they made it their legacy and did their utmost to share and spread love. They should be inspirations to all of us to do the same. Yes, they did some awesome things in the suit. But when you learn to truly be Santa by learning to first and foremost love others including your brethren, all of the other things will instantly follow along. All the success that a Santa can have is not genuine unless there is true love of others. As we walk down this road of life, occasionally taking the ol' sleigh for a spin, let us try with our utmost sincerity to just be Santa and to love one another. We are a family after all, and even though a family has ups and downs they come out on top. With love in our minds and hearts, may the Santa family always share the true Spirit of Christmas with both the children of the World. But may we always share that same Spirit of Love with our peers - our Claus Family. Remember these words. It is not the fancy costume, the real or traditional beard, the fraternal organizations, the events, or the most extensive resume that makes the Santa. It is the heart. Share it.
  18. 5 points
    A Lesson in Storytelling: I have long collected history and story books on Christmas and Santa Claus. While this collection started out just for pure enjoyment, I now find these books a great resource to me in my portrayal. I was reminded on a recent family road trip of a very special book, after enjoying the audio version with the family. “Letters From Father Christmas” This is a collection of illustrated letters from “Father Christmas” recapping the activities of the preceding year at the North Pole. The letters were written by the author J.R.R. Tolkien (yes THAT J.R.R. Tolkien) to his children from 1920-1942. These letters, precious and creative gifts from a master storyteller, were shared with the world after his death and published in 1976. How lucky we are as a community, to have been gifted with a look at these special and person family treasures. Many historians believe that these letters and stories were some of the building blocks to The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. It’s even said that Gandalf had his early beginnings as Tolkien’s Father Christmas. I highly recommend you purchase a copy of these letters and even pick up the audio version. While I am not saying to copy the stories in your portrayal, it has always been clear that Tolkien created his worlds...he fleshed them out. From the battle of the goblins and elves, to the troubles of the polar bears, to the Arctic language and more, Tolkien helped make the North Pole and Father Christmas REAL for his own children. From his drawing to even the shakiness of his handwriting, he created layers of story. I believe this is what can be done, in our mind, at the ready, create your layers and depth of your character. It has been said, looking the part just is not enough. When I am portraying Santa Claus, it is my hope that my ramblings and details could only mean one thing to those I visit...that perhaps, just maybe... I really am Santa Claus. 🎅🏻
  19. 5 points
    “Often, a school is your best bet - - perhaps not for education, but certainly for protection from an undead attack.” ― Max Brooks, The Zombie Survival Guide Greetings. My name is Ms. Santa Nana and I am Santa’s SISTER. Did you know the average Santa is 60 years old, between 180-220 pounds, and between 5’8” and 6’? I’m all that - - and more! Now I have a degree in Santa Clausology. This last weekend, I attended School 4 Santas, presented by world-renowned Santa Timothy Connaghan, at a clubhouse in Lakewood Colorado. I got off to a rocky start early Saturday morning. Here, I must confide to you that my technology is fickle. The minute I start depending on it, it dumps me like a bad boyfriend. For example, over the past few years I have come to rely heavily on the navigation system on my cell phone. GPS services have been an incredible blessing for me, allowing me to go places and see things I never would have ventured to go and see. Unfortunately, my Google maps service has gone bonkers lately. Instead of the kind lady telling me what street or highway to take, some bossy broad just screams “turn right! Turn right! Turn right! Go forward! Turn right!” This is not helpful to me. In fact, it caused me to call the direction’s lady a very bad word - - in front of my grandson. He thought this was hilariously funny. I guess this is what Santa says three times to his GPS, too - - HO HO HO! So, getting to Santa school was a series of pulling over to the side of the road every fifteen minutes to read the real map and then getting back into traffic to turn right, turn right, and go forward. The address given for the school was wrong, so I sat in front of somebody’s condo for a few minutes looking about for Santa cars. You know the ones. They have bumper stickers that say, “My other vehicle is a reindeer sled,” and license plates that read “Big Red.” Some have magnetic side panels proclaiming “Santa Bob, call 1-800-JINGLES” or the PT Cruiser shrink wrapped in candy cane colors. I finally called my buddy, Santa Jerry, and he gave me the right address and I rushed into class, apologetic about my tardiness. Santa Tim Connaghan is a right jolly old elf. He worked the front of the room with great ease and confidence and had a practiced lecture, accompanied by videos and text projected onto a screen, and lots of bells and whistles. Ha, ha - - yes really, bells and whistles. Tim is a highly sought after Santa and has wonderful stories about his jobs all over the world. He also shared his dos and don’ts and lots of funny clips of Santas through history. I loved a short film called “Boot Camp for Santas.” There was a donut break, and a lunch break, and then a nap break. Professor Tim did not schedule the nap break, but it happened organically. Santa Paul fell asleep on my shoulder and snored loudly. Santa Jerry nodded and twitched in and out of his snowy white beard. Other Santas closed their eyes prayer-like or snuck out to their trucks for a snooze. This is not to say that Santa Tim’s lecture was boring, it is just to say that Santas need a siesta mid-afternoon, and unless you want unruly, grouchy Santas, you’d better let them sleep! So, what's the newest thing in the Santa World? LADIES! Women are coming out to help their husbands in Santa performances, and to create their own independent Christmas characters. This opens up new markets and target groups for everyone in the industry - - which we should all celebrate. Technology is also revolutionary. On Sunday, Santa Steve was scheduled to teach us about the use of Facebook, Twitter, blogs and websites to promote our businesses. Unfortunately, he was sabotaged by pixies in his PowerPoint presentation. While the search went out for a fifteen year old to assist Santa Steve with his computer, other Santas worked in a short naptime and I downloaded a new navigation app. Luckily, Santa Steve had some handouts to give us with his program information. I would like to take a moment to report that there are Santas, just like other human men, who do not think that women have a place in the Santa community - - or a man’s world. They often will demonstrate their disapproval in condescending or passive aggressive behaviors. Unfortunately, there were a couple of these at Santa school. One Santa went around the room handing out his business cards, but when he got to me, turned and walked away without giving me one. One Santa let loose a door in my face. I was ignored when I spoke in a group. Another Santa thought I should be his personal assistant, scratch his back and give him a wake-up call when he went to his car for forty winks. Another simply treated me as if I was invisible, and refused to look at me when I introduced myself and held out my hand to shake. Oops, he forgot to give me Santa Steve’s handout, too. I realize that these men exist, but I hope those of you who have evolved into citizens of the 21st century will help encourage them to recognize that women have a lot to offer. Misogyny is not a Santa value. On the positive side, a woman, Ms. Christmas Carol, was voted to be the top officer for the Colorado Society of Santas on Saturday night. In addition, an extremely talented seamstress exhibited her beautiful reversible vests, while a local Santa wore the incredible fur trimmed suit and hat she custom made for him. I also had the privilege of hanging out with other great people who came to school: My sponsor, Santa Jerry, who encouraged me to attend the school. Our host Kim, who modeled an exquisite heirloom costume from Norway on the second day. A wannabe Santa let Professor Tim pin curl his moustache, and another mountain man Santa modeled good-naturedly while Professor Tim gave a demonstration on beard curling with a hot iron. It was a hoot. One Santa’s diminutive wife earnestly explained to me that she was an elf, not a Mrs. Santa. Yet another Misses shared tips from her professional makeup experience and helped me get into my costume. At the end of the school, everyone donned their gay apparel to receive their diplomas. We all posed with Santa Tim (see my post on Santas on Facebook) and said “yeah!” Here’s something we learned in class: Always have your hands showing in every photo. I am now a graduate of School 4 Santas, and have my BSC (Bachelor of Santa Claus) diploma to prove it. I highly recommend Professor Santa Tim Connaghan's book BEHIND THE RED SUIT. It is very comprehensive and has some really useful information in it. It is a bit pricy ($60) but covers just about everything in his lectures. You can get it (and other stuff and things) at www.realsantas.com I would tell any new Santa that Behind the Red Suit is the most useful source of information I have found in my first year. Be good, for goodness sake! Santa Nana, B.S.C. Santa Nana’s tip of the week: If you use Facebook to interact with friends and family, it is wise to have a separate account for IRL (in real life) you, and Santa you. Your IRL Facebook can show you in your Bruins sweatshirt and NRA cap, hunting bears and telling risqué jokes about Victoria’s Secret models, BUT NOT YOUR SANTA FACEBOOK! If you have a picture posted of you in a Santa suit, and your name is “Santa Somebody” you should never, ever, ever, post anything that might offend women, children, the elderly, gays, people of different religions, people with different political ideas, people who are poor, or any people who have a different lifestyle than you . . .or have cats. Why? Because Santa is suppose to be a kind and benevolent character and you represent ALL Santas when you appear in the Red Suit. Also, being Santa is a business. It’s simply not good to alienate people who might hire you for a great job. Especially if they have cats.
  20. 5 points
    One day, through events that are unique and special to you, you decided to become a Santa Claus. Maybe the mantle was passed to you or maybe you just wanted to try on the suit and the idea stuck. Maybe you were a middle aged man of girth with a beard whom neighborhood children pointed at with a certain familiarity. If you were like me, you were asked as a child to perform the role in a Christmas pageant and it stuck with you. In many ways the suit can call. Because you are here it is a good assumption that you answered. So, you have a suit and a beard of either natural or synthetic design. You belong to a group or two of Santas and maybe you work at a Mall. Perhaps you have been to one of the schools. That is all very good. But it doesn't stop there. What is it that is going to truly transform you into the character of Santa? My friend, the answer might come to you as a surprise. You must prepare. Easily said, but how does a Santa prepare? Just like with any role that an actor might play (you do realize that because you put on the suit does not mean that you become the true and real article), to go out onto the stage or before the camera without preparation is deadly. A Santa must never go out for his annual rounds without truly preparing. You see, every character needs to be built, nurtured, and developed. This is doubly true with Santa Claus, as there are certain standards that you will be held to by the general public - particularly the children. It is more than a role. It is a matter of childhood hope and trust! Below are three things that you can do to create a memorable and effective portrayal: 1. Read! Read! Read! - So your wife may think that you are crazy for going to the library at odd times of the year to check out books on Christmas. Big deal! As Santa Claus you are going to need to know what the popular and historic image of every aspect of Christmas and Santa are. It is folly to think that a school that lasts anywhere from a few days to maybe a week is going to teach you all there is to know. Do your research! Create a finger friendly archive for yourself where, if you can't recall an answer to a tough question that a child might ask, you can find it. Read to understand the history and meanings of Christmas and Saint Nicholas. Soak it all in. You are embarking on a mission that has been shared by jolly men for over 1700 years (1000s more depending on your source). Know the accepted and expected facts of the role. 2. Know who you are! - Every actor will usually develop a back story to a character. That story will tell everything from where the character grew up to what kind of bubble gum he likes to chew and more. Lucky for you, Santa has a full back story developed. How do your ideas about Santa match up? Better work this out before the kids work you over about the facts. 3. Brotherhood - That we know, Saint Nicholas had no familial brothers and sisters. That is established history. But the Santa Claus of today sure has. Every man that puts on the suit is now your brother, or sister depending on circumstance. Talk to them, ask them questions, and generally support them as they will be a great support to you. Remember, what you do in the suit reflects on them and vice versa. Behave yourself and realize that we are all in this together. 4. Walk a mile - The old statement says in order to know a man you must walk a mile in his shoes. Do you have to become a toymaker or even a Christian Bishop? No, no. But you do need to know how to give and talk to children. If you really want to learn these valuable skills then take part in a local children's charity or benevolent work. Volunteer! Give of yourself! After all, the greatest and truly the only gift that you will ever give while in the red suit is of yourself. Volunteer, and bring joy and smiles all year long. You will begin to feel like Santa. 5. Christmas Spirit. A Santa who does not know what Christmas is all about is a neglected Santa. I cannot stress enough the need to understand that the Christmas Spirit is not a feeling, but is a Person. The joys, hopes, and miracles of Christmas begin and end with Him - that Baby born in Bethlehem. Not preaching, but know who Jesus Christ is and understand His significance. After all, they named the holiday after Him! Why do all of these things? Well, it is very simple. To build a house you need a foundation. In the same way, to build a character you need a foundation. Take great care in building a strong one, a good one. You will soon learn as you visit the children that you will constantly draw encouragement and strength from your foundation. So, be sure to make it a firm one and be sure to cling to the authentic, historically proven, kid tested model of what a Santa Claus should be. In closing, a word of warning. As you grow in the character and community of Santa Claus sometimes it is easy to become careless with the responsibilities connected to the role. You might begin to think that you are the center of it all. You might begin to covet your brother's opportunities and begin to think that you are better than the rest. You might forget yourself and begin to say and do things that are against the image you have worked so hard to create. Remember, an over-developed ego does not a good Santa make. If you see this happening then take a moment and self examine. Fill that crack in the foundation with solid material made of love and wisdom. Remember, you are a servant. Remember, as you serve the children in a pure and loving way (as Santa should) that good will be given to you. You will be surprised at where you might go as long as you remain the Santa that you should be - a solidly built, authentic replica of the Santa of legend. An authentic Santa, the Santa of our childhood, is one that will be cherished.
  21. 5 points
    It has been quite a while since I have written about anything regarding Santa Claus for our community. That I am going to try to remedy with this article that I hope will be found to be light hearted, yet thought provoking. This is to be the first of many of these types of items that I am going to tentatively title “Mistletoe Musings.” In many groups such as ours (whether historical, theatrical, or literary) there are those who seek higher learning and understanding of what the subject is about. I feel it should be no different in the study of Santa Claus. To get the clear picture of whom he is and what he represents only benefits the portrayals of each of us. He is more than a doddering old man or town drunk as depicted in popular interpretation. Santa is something more. I hope you will enjoy pondering these ideas, and by doing so may we grow closer as a community as we endeavor to portray our beloved Santa. The Rudolph Question Every Santa Season we are asked about that one particular reindeer who’s known as the “most famous reindeer of all.” Everyone knows the other eight. But they are dismissed when it comes to that one little fellow with the glowing red nose – Rudolph. Thanks to a popular song by Johnny Marks, an RKO cartoon, and several Rankin Bass Christmas specials he has become as inseparable to Santa as the Jolly Old Elf’s big black boots. Rudolph is a part of the Christmas canon now, and there seems that there is no child worldwide that doesn’t know his name and story. Rudolph was born in the mind of Robert L. May way back in 1939. May’s poem was used as an advertising blitz by Montgomery Wards – or “Monkey Wards” as they were popularly called. And the original story is very different than that of the little reindeer and his elven friend and dentist who travels to the Island of Misfit Toys. Copies are still readily available, and I suggest if you haven’t read it that you do. Rudolph and his story have been everywhere, even to the Hit Parade by both Gene Autry and Burl Ives respectfully. His has become one of the most recorded Christmas songs in history. Since Christmas 1939, Rudolph has been a part of every child’s visions of the Christmas Eve flight. Even at the age of 74, Rudolph still leads Santa’s team across the sky and into the hearts of children of all ages. I have often pondered the role of Santa’s partner in relation to other companions he has in various incarnations across the globe. He is definitely less threatening than Krampus – the devil like figure of many Alpine countries who accompanies St. Nicholas and takes care of the naughty children. He is definitely cleaner than Schmutzli – the helper of Samischlaus in eastern Europe who not only carries the sack of goodies but also makes sure the chimneys are clean and children are behaved. He is much less controversial than Zwarte Piet or “Pete” – Sinterklaas’ helper in the Netherlands who assists him attired in black face paint and colorful clothes and has become a sign of racial prejudice. No, Rudolph’s presence is both practical and benevolent. Not only does he teach that differences are to be celebrated, but that everyone’s talents, no matter what they are, are relevant. Rudolph proves that being different is being great – a lesson that children of all ages can use. While in the chair this past Christmas I was asked all about Rudolph by one little fellow who was eager to learn. I, of course, explained that Rudolph is doing very well and he does remain very active on foggy and inclement Christmas Eves. The youngster was very happy to hear that. Jokingly, I also said that he has become quite a snob thanks to the song and movies about him. I furthered the story by explaining that the elves can’t even get his autograph these days. The little fellow laughed. But I reassured them that Santa still loves him and all the other reindeer love him too. When asked how old the reindeer was I responded that this would be his 74th Christmas flight. The little fellow’s eyes grew large and he ran to tell his parents in his excitement. I am sure Rudolph would approve of this telling of his story. Rudolph’s story and character hold something for everyone and are equally loved. So, remember to tell the little ones you meet about that dear of a deer and what he means to old Santa. His story is one that is inspiring and should be told. And when you are asked about your favorite cookie, be sure to remind the little ones to think of the reindeer. Rudolph loves an extra carrot – it helps his battery charge so his nose will glow even brighter through the Christmases to come!
  22. 4 points
    With all of the joy, love, wonder, and excitement that Christmas brings the "professional" Santa; it can, for some, bring a bit of sadness, anxiety, and overall depression too. Now, many might think, "What!? How can Santa be depressed...it's Christmas!" but it truly can happen and it's good to inventory those feelings and problem solve what an appropriate solution might be. Now, I'm not an experienced therapist nor do I hold a Phd. in any medical field but I did want to share some of my thoughts, experiences, observations, and get some things down on paper for my own benefit. We have seen on Clausnet the occasional discussion on what has been coined, the "Christmas Blues" or the immediate lull right after the busy season and the feelings experienced at this time. For me, personally, I had not experienced these post season feelings. I believe I was spared because life for me seems to run at full speed regardless, and I love to plan and start working on new Christmas projects in January. I have, interestingly enough, experienced PRE season blues from time to time. Why on earth would anyone have the blues BEFORE the season!? I must be pretty crazy...but a quick search found that I was not alone in the least. For me, there is so much planning, so much to do, there is just...SO MUCH! With the work on a Santa show this year, I have also found a financial drain with no guarantee to recoup any of that money, it's worth the risk because I love it. This has all been stressful though. Also, with a bleached beard, I continue to panic at every fallen hair, "WILL MY BEARD SURVIVE!?" "WILL IT ALL FALL OUT!?" "WHAT ABOUT ALL OF MY CLIENTS!?" "WHAT IF I GET SICK!?" "WHAT IF IT'S NOT WHITE!?" etc. There certainly is a lot that one can stress over, IF YOU CHOOSE, and many I'm sure, can relate. I think that one can actually plan too much, focus so much on the details, that there has not been a chance to breath, to rest, or just a quick relax. This is where I'm trying to find balance this year. Not going at 150% ALL of the time...I cannot afford to burn out, and I certainly cannot afford to drop dead of a heart attack. This balance and "relax time" is something I am truly making an effort to make time for...it is SO important. My friends, make that time for you and your loved ones. I've tried to put together a few things I have found and hope that it will help you before, during, and after the season. As I tend to tell my wife who constantly goes at 200%, "You cannot give others what you don't have to give." This goes along with what we are doing too. Keep your inner wells filled my friends, and you can continue to give to others. Let that well run dry, and you will have nothing to offer. Here we go: 1. Keep your expectations balanced. We all have the perfect Christmas and the perfect season in our minds, it's okay if you don't quite reach that...set your goals and move towards them and you will be a better Santa. If we don't all have our seasons looking like a Norman Rockwell painting...that's okay too, this gives you something to shoot for next year! It's not all in our control and perfection, is a pretty hard thing to achieve...I never have. 2. Don't try to do too much. I look at my schedule this season and I want to slap myself. I would get off the phone with a panicked and desperate individuals pleading for me to fit them into my schedule..."Sure, I guess I can manage to fit that party in the afternoon before my morning and evening event." WHAT!?? My friends, scheduling and taking on too many tasks can dampen the spirits. Learn to say no, delegate where possible and manage your time wisely. If you choose to do less you will have more energy to enjoy the most important part of the season - friends and family, and making a difference! No amount of money is worth your life. 3. Don't isolate. We sure do go from extremes. We can be the center of attention and life of the party and some Santas, might find themselves going home to a quiet home. If you're feeling left out, then get out of the house and find some way to join in. There are hundreds of places you can go to hear music, enjoy the sights or help those less fortunate...not as Santa...but as YOU! 4. Don't overspend. I have long sense had an issue with some of the "professional Santas" ...to me, it seems that some Santas do not see themselves as being a successful Santa unless they have something to sell the rest of us Santas, their events were not enough, their market was not big enough...let's sell TO the Santas! We do NOT all need to make something to sell, sometimes it just looks like a few are just trying too hard. We do not need to buy everything that sparkles before our eyes, (although, Eileen's Buckles look amazing!) Create a reasonable budget and stick to it. Remember it's not about the "stuff", it's about what's in your heart. 5. It's appropriate to mourn if you're separated from or have lost loved ones. If you can't be with those you love make plans to celebrate again when you can all be together. My children are young, but I could see at some point, traveling off to some far off land to portray Santa...at this point, I am home with my family. Connect with your loved ones or schedule to do so. You'd be surprised how much a phone call, or even a journal entry or card can help. 6. Many people suffer depression due to a lack of sunlight because of shorter days and bad weather. Using a full spectrum lamp for twenty minutes a day can lessen this type of depression called SAD (seasonal effectiveness disorder). We can't all be like Santa Marty, wearing Santa shorts to visit the beach! You'd be surprised how much this can help. 7. Watch your diet and remember to exercise. When it comes to dieting...I'm your Santa! You can watch what I do...and just do the opposite! Ho, Ho, Ho! t's normal to eat more during the holidays, but be aware of how certain foods effect your mood. If you eat fats and sweets, you will have less energy, which can make you feel more stressed and run down. It can be very helpful to take a walk before and/or after a big holiday meal. We need to keep that metabolism up! Just think of all of those children (germ containers). 8. Be aware of the Post Holiday Syndrome. When all the hustle and bustle suddenly stops and you have to get back to the daily grind it can be a real let down. Ease out of all the fun by planning a rest day toward the end of the season. My family does sacrifice so that I can do quite a bit in portraying Santa and attending my events. After the holidays there is always the announcement of a family vacation. Somewhere fun, to celebrate and spend time together. 9. You are NOT Santa. Oh man, did that hurt? Let me say it again, You are NOT Santa. Wait, what? Oh you changed your name to Santa Claus...okay, then...uh...hmmmm...YOU are still NOT SANTA. I will not say that being the center of attention isn't fun or isn't even addicting to some...but you must be very careful with this. Coming to expect this, or even seeking it when there is no need is just asking for issues to pop up when the season is over. Now, perhaps you dress as Santa year round, this is a marketing choice for you...just remember, there is someone else inside. Give yourself opportunities to relax, and NOT be at the center of everything...take a moment NOT to dress in red. 10. Learn forgiveness and acceptance. If some of your relatives, friends, or even fellow Santas have acted out or made you feel bad, chances are that won't change. If you know what you're getting into, it will be easier to not let them push your buttons. We teach people how to treat us and we teach ourselves how to react to others. You are far better off being like that amazing duck, letting the water just run down your back...of course, the guys at Duck Dynasty just blew it to smithereens, but you get the idea my friends! Ho, Ho, Ho! I wish you the very best of seasons my Clausnet family. YOU are amazing, and YOU have the potential to do so much good, to change lives for the better, and truly make a difference. I encourage you all to review the Oath, reflect on your own Christmas memories and favorite times, for you believers...remember the reason for the season, it is THAT love that you share with those that need it. Be active. While the season brings a hectic schedule for many of us, take a few moments here and there to visit us and share your adventures. Merry Christmas! Santa Johnathan
  23. 4 points
    Everyone has an idea what it takes to be Santa. They then go forward to follow that idea into reality. Where the fantasy meets reality is where some problems occur. No matter how you conduct your Santa performance service, you are conducting one of two different things in the eyes of the IRS. You are either spending your money on an expensive hobby which you are not allowed to write off OR you are operating a business Which has to show a profit 1 out of 3 years or as my accountant says 2 out of 5. In the eyes of the local city and county tax offices, if you advertise you are operating a business and need proper permits and licenses. Some think starting an LLC will protect them and their property but as has been shown, that does not exactly work the way some folks think it will. Everything used under the LLC is up for grabs. Vehicle, Equipment down to the lap top and cell phone used in the business is up for grabs when you rely on a LLC to protect you. If your actions go beyond the coverage of a LLC it can be pierced and all your personal assets are then up for grabs as well. In many states personal liability insurance is a better protection for the cost all the way around. Your presentation will determine your market and your abilities will determine your share of that market. As Santa we are portraying a fictional character the image of which is fixed in much of the public's mind and shown in movies and pictures and books dating back to 1822. Currently for the last 12 years there has been a push to alter that image by including/merging the image of Father Christmas from the "Old World". Nothing wrong with that but you are now competing with an established image that is being exported to those "Old World" countries that are importing the traditional Santa image and the folks at home that want the "Rankin Bass" image. I have strongly suspected this used as a way to "separate" one presentation from the crowd of "Clones" in order to breakout and win market share based upon a "New and Fresh" look or gimmick such as any new "Bling" that will set your Santa image apart from the crowd. This is the easy path to being different or individual as a performer. I advocate a better and stronger way to separate yourself from the herd. Be a better performer. Unfortunately that takes study, effort and work on your part over and above putting on a different looking suit or belt or accessory. It takes personal development in order to stand out.as a performer portraying the role of "Santa". You need to actually develop and expand the basic character and bring it to life right in the venue you are performing in be it a corporate party, a mall set or a living room. You have to step into that role when recognized on the street or in a store or at the gas station even if not in the Suit. How do you do this? By studying the traditions and history of the character. It is all there and several schools can help you with this but essentially it happens when you decide to take this activity seriously, like a business. Some use this as a path to spread their personal religious beliefs and sense of moral behavior which is not counter to the role we portray. It is when we begin to use the role and our religion and or our political beliefs to beat on others that is not acceptable. A Santa is a Santa first keeping in mind we are there for the children and keeping the fantasy of the fictional character alive during their short years of believing in that wonderful fantasy. The message we bring is for all ages but the sector of the public that is our most important demographic is children. if not for them, we would be a footnote and nice story made into movies. Remember that the next time you are tempted to beat on some other "Santa" that does not eet up with your personal expectation of how he should act or look or conduct his business. Instead of beating on him (or her) for their presentation as a Christmas performer, let this become an open door for you to help another learning how to be better. Make the effort to instill an idea, educate someone that has a poor image in their mind of what we do by educating the people in the public about what it is we do. Make this a better performance and world one person at a time. In the process you will become Outstanding in how you portray and perform the role of Santa, Mrs Claus, Elf or any of the many various roles that are Christmas Season venues. Strive to be the best and help those you come in contact become better as well. In this fashion you will become an Amazing Santa. A Mentor to others and someone that has made the industry better for it. May your season be Joyous! Yours, Gordon Bailey SatBobS.com
  24. 4 points
    There is no reason why Santa should be restricted to a short period of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. In fact, since there are so many children who are afraid of Santa, I might be able to fix them by exposing them to Santa all year long. I have some great ideas on this. First of all, why not have Santa on New Years? I mean Santa looks like Father Time. I could tell everyone that Father Time is REALLY SANTA! I could wear a big chain with a clock around my neck and sing Auld Lang Syne. I could probably squeeze quite a few extra bucks out of the week between Christmas and New years too. Then Santa will be just another part of all the New Year’s festivities. And then there’s Valentine’s Day. Valentine is a saint and Santa is Saint Nicholas. Valentine’s Day is all about love, and of course we all know that the business of portraying Santa is all about love too. And there’s lots of red and white in Valentine’s Day decorations. It’s a perfect fit! I could even make extra money off a kissing booth at Valentines banquets. Everyone knows how much the ladies just love to kiss old Santa. I could even charge extra for a photo! Then Santa will be just another part of all the Valentine’s Day festivities. We’re already to Saint Patrick’s Day. It’s another one of those “Saint holidays” and leprechauns are really just elves wearing green suits with flat topped hats instead of red suits with pointy hats. And leprechauns are very giving just like Santa because they give away pots of gold. Wait a minute! Saint Nicholas gave away gold too! That makes it a perfect fit! Then Santa will be just another part of all the Saint Patrick’s Day festivities. Now Easter is next. This might be tough because I’m going to have to compete with that stupid Easter Bunny. Wait, I have it! The Easter Bunny has white fur and Santa has white fur. They both come secretly at night and leave gifts for children. So, I could tell them that the Easter Bunny is really just a pagan version of the Christian Santa, and I am simply trying to restore Santa to his rightful place in Easter. I might even be able to take over the Easter Bunny’s photo operation at the mall! Besides, everyone knows kids like Santa more than the Easter Bunny. Then Santa will be just another part of the Easter Festivities. Next is Memorial Day. It’s a bit of a stretch but I think I can do it. They always have parades on Memorial Day right? We all know that Santa must be in every parade. Who among us can pass up the ego trip of riding down Main street on a huge float and waving to thousands of our adoring fans? Of course it is Memorial Day and not Christmas, so Santa won’t be the big finale of the parade. But that’s OK. He’ll just be another float somewhere in the middle. Maybe they can put Santa right after those little Shriner cars and just before the local beauty queen. Then Santa will be just another part of the Memorial Day festivities. Gosh, I’ve made it half way thru the year. I’ll probably need some vacation time in June because July is gonna be my second biggest paycheck of the year. Man, I can see all those big fat juicy “Christmas in July” BOOKING$$$$ just waiting to be picked! And since you can’t have a real “Christmas in July” event without a Santa, I can really stick to ‘em with the fees. Maybe I can make even more money in July by doing the count down to the fireworks shoot off on the Fourth. It’s really just the same as a countdown for a tree lighting ceremony. Then Santa will be just another part of the Fourth of July festivities. Now in August I’ll have to take some more vacation from all that activity in July. Plus, I’ll need time TO COUNT ALL MY MONEY!!! Next comes Labor Day in September. Now this might be a little tricky because Santa is management and the North Pole is a non-union shop. But I think I have an angle on it. Everybody has picnics on Labor Day right? They always eat lots of high fat and high carb foods at those picnics. Bingo! Santa loves to eat all that junk. That’s why he’s so fat! I can get booked to appear at all those picnics wearing my Santa casual shorts and Santa Hawaiian shirts and my red Crocs. It will be a blast! I’ll get all that FREE FOOD and GET PAID TO EAT IT! Then Santa will be just another part of the Labor Day festivities. Now Halloween is easy. We have already established the fact that many children are afraid of Santa and love candy. Halloween is all about fear and candy! It’s a natural fit for Santa. I could change up the tired old red and white suit for an orange one with black fur. I could get booked at Halloween parties and scare those precious little ones just like I do at Christmas time! Instead of reciting The Night Before Christmas I could tell ghost stories and give away orange and black candy canes. And since everyone has to buy Halloween candy, I could make EVEN MORE MONEY by purchasing large wholesale quantities of orange and black candy canes and selling them to the parents. Then Santa will be just another part of the Halloween festivities. Well, I finally made it! It was tough, but I got all the way to Thanksgiving with all its parades and lights-on ceremonies and the BIG BUCK$ of the Christmas season! And just think, not only did I make tons of money in the off season, I was also able to help so many little children not be afraid of Santa, since they got to him so often (well maybe not on Halloween, but I digress.) So you see, Thomas Nast was an idiot. He had the stupid idea that Santa should live at the North Pole because it was a mysterious and far off place at the top of the world. Since nobody in his time could ever travel there it was a perfect explanation of why nobody ever saw Santa. Wait a minute, NOBODY EVER SAW SANTA?!?! If nobody ever sees Santa then how am I supposed to get money out of this deal? What was Nast smoking in that pipe of his? Heck, since I’m gonna spread my Christmas spirit all year long, why draw the line at a few holidays? I might as well let ‘em see Santa 365 days a year! I mean you can’t really have too much of a good thing right? And then, when they’ve had so much Santa, that Santa is just another part of everyday life and no longer special, and all the bookings have dried up, I won’t have to worry because I’ll already be RICH off this Santa racket. And when I’ve blown all of my ill gotten gains on wine women and song I can go back to being…a magician and a clown.
  25. 4 points
    As you begin your bookings for the season I would like to offer some suggestions when finding yourself unable to accept a request. As a reminder, when declining a prospective clients request be sure to do the following: 1. Express your thankfulness for their request. 2. Tell them you are honored that they requested you. 3. If it's a residential request, express being humbled that they have offered to open their home to you. 4. Include your regrets that you will not be able to be a part of their Christmas celebrations this season. 5. Tell them why you must decline. 6. Don't be cocky or flippant in your communications. Be polite. I am sure you can tailor these suggestions to fit your own personality. But don't discourage them from seeking your SANTA presence in the future. Declining, is also part of your marketing. Just my thoughts
  26. 4 points
    We buried my brother, Denny, in August. His second heart attack in 8 days finally did what infantile hydrocephalus, 45 years of hard physical work, Lupus, inter-cranial bleeding and loss of his eyesight (in that order) couldn't do. He was 67 years old. Mom left us in the fall off '82 with a stroke. Pa went in the summer of '95, Alzheimers and prostate cancer. Norm, our neighbor growing up, died of alzheimers and old age a couple years back. Norm's brother, Merle, went the same morning as Denny. My best friend Ken, went a year ago last spring in an auto accident; Richard, a friend from high school, 10 years ago in an accident at work. And another half dozen or so... I've reached that stage of life that Pa warned me about. I was complaining about having to put on a groomsman's monkeysuit (tux) for yet another wedding and he told me to shut up. He said, " Enjoy every single wedding you go to. The first half of your life is all weddings. The second half is all funerals." I didn't REALLY get it then. I do now. Denny was, technically speaking, our half-brother; as Mom had been married and widowed before she married our dad. Denny was 17 when Mom and he came to the ranch. And in less than 4 years, he had 3 half brothers. And God blessed us with him. He fed us, changed our diapers, drove us to school functions, laughed when we did and cried when we did. Denny loved us, unconditionally. Every family should be so lucky as to have a Denny. There's so much I could say; so much I want to say, but I'm not sure how. I could talk about Denny's huge heart and how he'd give you the shirt off his back. I could talk about his reliability, as rock solid as the eastern sunrise. I could talk about his love of country music or his being developmentally challenged. I could talk about his sunny disposition and the way neighbors lit up smiling when he'd walk in; or the profane teasing we all engaged in back and forth the way blue-collar boys and men do. And Denny certainly gave as good as he got in that department. We got to spend some quality time with him that last week. And for that I'm very grateful. But it made the funeral that much rougher to get through. There was a good turnout for the sevice. Seems we wern't the only ones that loved ol' Denny. But then, most of these funerals have had pretty good turnouts. Which is logical, since funerals aren't really for the departed. They're thrown in the guest of honors name; but they're for us, the ones left here, trying to make sense of things. And so, I'm sitting here tonight, going over the too long to-do list before the Santa season, and remembering, and laughing some and crying some; and ruminating; trying to make sense of things. Which will just drive you batty, I know. Because there's a lot of things I'll never figure out. But I do know one thing and that's that Denny loved me. He loved all of us. And we loved him. His love in our family wasn't a raging river, or a wild thunderstorm kind of love. It was the big boulder, the sign post, the landmark; that when you passed it you knew you were home. Because that landmark is always there and it always means that same thing. You're home. You're safe. When I hold a little one on my knee, that's what I hope s/he feels. That feeling that Denny gave us...gave me. Home and safety. Santa's here with solid, boulder, landmark love for you. Here, at least, you're safe. Denny's gone now, but that love remains, It's part of me, the way it was part of him. He gave it to me. His first, best gift-that he ever gave me. And now it's my turn to give it to my grandkids. And to every kid who sits on my knee at Christmas. Denny can die. I can die. But Santa can't die. And that kind of love...it never dies. I'm hoping your upcoming season, and all your sesons yet to come, are full of that kind of love. Have a blessed Christmas.
  27. 4 points
    I Spoke With THE Perfect Santa!..WHAT!? by Santa Johnathan So, I will apologize to you, my fine Clausnet friends, right off the bat...this might not be the best reading as I'm just going to throw my thoughts into this blog as they come and I might ramble. If you are able to make sense of it all...well, BRAVI! Now, I am always grateful for the opportunity to speak with fellow Santas, it's really a fun experience. However, one such conversation this week had me rather at a loss for words. This individual will more than likely read this blog post, and I can only hope it will act as a sort of wake-up call or perhaps we can name this an Inter-Santa-vention. Ho, Ho, Ho! While speaking to this Santa on this past season, lessons learned, and a few things I'm working on to improve my "Santa" for this coming season, he commented on his own journey and where he is at this moment. As best I can from memory, these were a few of his words, "I've pretty much seen it all, learned it all, and am confident in my portrayal...this old dog doesn't have any more tricks to learn." The phone conversation ended shortly after this statement and I was left speechless...almost. What just happened!? Did I actually speak to THE worlds one and only PERFECT Santa!? ...no. I'm a true believer that we can all bring something to the table, whether this is your 1st season or your 30th season, I believe everyone has something we can appreciate and learn from. We are all at different points on the map of our "Santa journey." While I agree that there MUST be a great amount of confidence within ourselves to portray Santa correctly, we CANNOT find ourselves at a point to say there is nothing more to learn. We can all put the "teacher" hat on at times, but every great teacher I have ever met, was just as quick to put the "student" hat on too. I would think that if you find yourself in a place where you don't want to learn any more, or think you can't, then perhaps it's just not that important to you. I think we have all seen those individuals, even on Clausnet, some are here for the social fun, some are here to learn and study, some are here just for just the networking, and some unfortunately are here just for the marketing with little participation...we are the "Santa demographic" in their sales projections. I cannot lose sleep over another Santa thinking they are perfect, but I can assure you, none of us are there. I know this blog post has been a giant soapbox, I'm sorry. I have a great deal of respect for the Santa I spoke with, I have a great deal I can learn from this individual, but he certainly is not a perfect Santa. I get excited when I learn something new, I get excited when I've figured out a better way to do something. While someone might find themselves in a delusional state thinking they have learned all there is to portraying Santa, I would just say...you are missing a great amount of joy in your life in this frame of mind. Don't let your ego get in the way of being an amazing Santa Claus...we can all learn to be great, but we all must never forget to keep learning. ##END OF RANT##
  28. 4 points
    Have you ever been caught in a mood or moment where your heart and mind are just rushing with sentimental feelings, memories, and thoughts? It has certainly been one of those days for me. Now, most that really know me, know I am a huge softy that will tear up at the drop of a hat. It might be a great film, perhaps a book, a tender conversation with my children, or perhaps just thinking about life in general...I'm a big baby, I admit it. While I am great at keeping my composure during a visit to the children's hospital as Santa, I can confidently say, I'm a basket cast all the way home until I can hold my own babies. It's amazing the choices we make and the roads we decide to go down as we experience the unknown and unavoidable turns, bumps, pot holes, and more of life. Sometimes what we thought would happen and have planned for, just isn't what was in the big picture in our lives and I'm grateful that my life has brought me so much excitement, experiences, and adventure. In particular, I am grateful for my journey here to the Santa community and Clausnet. Portraying Santa has always been something hiding in my life and mind, from my first awful looking beard as a young boy bringing gifts and singing carols to the local neighborhood, to my first "real" suit to bring my first born a magical memory on a Christmas Eve night...I never would have imagined that I would have the opportunity to be someone's REAL Santa. I cannot now, imagine my life without this joy...it is so important to me that I would find it hard to actually express how much. I joined Clausnet on December 1, 2011. I had very selfish reasons for doing so; I wanted to be better and learn from those that had more experience than I did. What I did not expect were the memories I'd make here and the friendships that would develop, even how much I miss it when I can't visit. It really is so much more than just learning to be a better Santa but also learning to be a better human being. I've learned to fine tune my portrayal, I've strengthened my standards as I reflect on the responsibility of portraying Santa, and I am overall a better person. I've also learned that I'm a sucker for something new and shiny! Something that I never imagined or thought about really were all of those Santas that would pass from here. I guess I just never thought about the fact that most Santas are older, have pasts mid life and are enjoying their golden years. As I get older, I am reminded more and more as I see people around me, friends, and family leave this life and reflect on what they have left behind. It seems there is even more of this kind of reminder of how precious and short life is around this community. I am so happy that these individuals were able to experience life and found their role as Santa. I have not known these Santas and have not called them close friends as many of you have...but I take my hat off to them for their role in the Santa community and that they were able to spread Christmas cheer as Santa Claus bringing smiles to countless individuals. I wanted to take a moment to thank you. Thank you for all you do, thank you for your participation here, thank you for helping those around you and supporting the Santa community. Thank you for putting up with my stupid comments that were meant to be funny, and my all too often opinionated posts. Thank you for helping me see the error of my ways and thank you for confirming things that I knew to be true and important in my portrayal. Thank you for helping me be a better Santa, and a better person. I am excited for what the future holds and I will continue to live my life with no regrets, uplifting and supporting my family, and spreading that Christmas cheer that I felt as a child and hold close to my heart to this day. I hope we can all have a wonderful season, that we can all understand how blessed we are to be able to participate in this wonderful community as we bring smiles to children and adults alike. I also look forward to learning more each day and when the time comes, while I hope it is a very long way off, I pray I will leave behind something that my children, wife, family, friends, and community can be proud of. Johnathan
  29. 3 points
    My fellow Christmas enthusiasts, It is no secret that identity thievery has been, and is continuing to be a real threat to social networking. Yes, even among those of the Christmas Community. Not all things are sugar plumbs and candy canes in our community. I can't recall how many times I have been cloned on Face Book, but it has been far too many. I have had to abandon accounts, close accounts, and or otherwise just remove all the information on accounts (including friends lists) not because I wanted to, but because I can not afford to have a hard earned online presence be compromised this way. I became complacent at one point, "just part of the networking thing" I told myself. Well, I am not going to be complacent any longer.... especially in my Christmas Community Networking. Some have noticed a distinct drop in my usual online presence and community involvement. This cloning of identities is in large, part of the reason I simply have not been "around" as much as usual. Its a shame, because my involvement has, over the years become an important of my Santa Personae. My improvement, over time, has been a direct affect of my interaction with others of similar interests, sharing ideas, ideas, and experience on line. MOST of which has come right here, being on ClausNet. ClausNet has always been a much "kinder and gentler" online community where people can share and learn from some of the best examples of dedicated men and women in our industry. Over the last couple of weeks, there have been attempts by someone or someones trying to log into my account here. Yes, here on ClausNet, you heard that right. As far as I know, no one has been successful but the continued attempts have me rather peeved. The IP of the person or persons attempting to steal their way into ClausNet have been coming from The Bay Area of California. A place where I have spent many off season hours visiting family and friends. Of course someone wanting to be me is completely understandable, who wouldn't? (Sarcastic comment) In my nearly 9 years of involvement here on ClausNet, I have learned much. More than you can at ANY Santa School, more than you can learn at any one specialized training session or seminar, online or in person. At a point early on, I realizes just what a wonderful place ClausNet was AND is. I have done what I can to contribute positively by offering advice, shared one on one, and open forum discussions. I have made many friends here, some have generated some direct phone contact, as well as, when possible some face to face meetings and strong relationships. A closeness if you will and surely a complement to my performances as a working Santa Claus. As for myself, I felt I owed my friends an explanation and thus this blog post. For now, my involvement will be curtailed. I can't say forever, because it is hard to stay away from something you love. And I do love ClausNet. Thank you for your friendship, advice, and concern. This is NOT a goodbye note, simply a note of respite from usual activities. I sincerely appreciate your understanding.
  30. 3 points
    Well, it was bound to happen. Christmas 2008 will be the year I remember as the year I told my daughter that I was Santa Claus – or rather, to be exact, one of Santa Claus’s Ambassadors. I guess I should be thankful I got this far. After all, Meghan is almost 11. My son made it to 12! He only found out it was me after reading a newspaper article that mentioned my name. Back in 2006 she was wavering. I decided to see if I couldn’t get at least another year out of her. So I appeared in Meghan’s bedroom at midnight. I woke her up and handed her an American Girl Doll that she really wanted. I told her she had been doing really well in school lately and I wanted to give her something extra special for working so hard. She really wanted that particular doll and they were sold out everywhere, so handing her the doll made me feel especially like Santa Claus. I sat next to her on the bed for a while and we talked about school and her friends. After a few minutes I said that I had better be getting on my way and told her to go back to sleep. I wished her Merry Christmas and told her that I loved her. Meghan said good night and told me that she loved me too. The whole visit lasted maybe 10 minutes. But those 10 minutes got me another 2 years. Fast forward to Christmas 2008 - a few days before Christmas my daughter was looking at a few pictures. Meghan noticed that Santa Claus’s eyes are the same blue as Dad’s and that Santa Claus has a tiny birthmark on his cheek – also just like Dad. She then decides to interview (more like interrogate) everyone in the family. With a pen and notepad she starts jotting down her “clues” and after a thorough investigation, she comes to the conclusion that I must be Santa Claus. Although she cannot explain how I go from whiskers to clean shaven and back again, Meghan was convinced that I was Santa Claus. But Christmas Eve was the clincher. During the Homily at the Christmas Vigil Mass at our Church, Santa Claus made an appearance. Santa came out and greeted Father and wished all the Parishioners a Very Merry Christmas. He went on to discuss the true meaning of Christmas. Meghan and her brother were Altar Servers for the Mass. They sat only a few feet from where Santa delivered his Christmas Eve message. Later at the end of Mass after Meghan changed back into her street clothes, she and her brother met me at the back of the Church. As parishioners exited, a few of them would wink at me or thank me as they exited the Church. At one point my daughter was standing beside me when one of the Parishioners said to me “nice job”. Meghan immediately gave me a look and said; “I know why she said that!” I was caught. But I had a backup plan. Later in the evening, Meghan put out cookies and milk for Santa and carrots and lichen for the reindeer. She also wrote a very sweet note to Santa. In the note she invited Santa take a little break cookies and milk break and to please give the carrots and lichen to the reindeer. In the note she also mentioned that she thought that her Dad looked like him and left a little area for a reply. Her note to Santa was very cute and Santa’s reply was perfect! I’ll have to post that next time. Christmas morning came and Meghan ran down from upstairs. The cookies and milk were half eaten and the carrots and lichen were gone. She read the reply to her note that Santa had left on the coffee table next to empty plate of cookies. From there she went over to her stocking. As she reached for the stocking, she noticed something near the hearth of the fireplace. It was a heavy gold button with “SC” in the center and “North Pole” over the top. Attached to the button was some red thread. She reached down and picked it up. She recognized it immediately. "It must be one of Santa's buttons!; she said, “It must have gotten caught on the fireplace! I'm going to take it to school and show it to my friends that don't believe in Santa!” As you can imagine, at this point, I am thinking that I may have just gotten past another Christmas. But by December 26, the little wheels in her head started turning again. She decides to re-open her “investigation”. After several attempts to get me and her brother to admit that I am Santa Claus, she starts to get upset that we won’t tell her what she knows must be true. I can tell she is getting frustrated. So I decide to tell her the truth – that I am one of Santa’s Ambassadors. I tell Meghan that I have something very important to tell her. But before I tell her I make her promise that she cannot tell any of her friends and especially not her younger cousins and that this is our secret. She agrees. I hand her the letter to me from Santa Claus. I tell her to open it and to be careful because it is very old. As we roll it out her eyes widen. It smells old. It looks old. Clearly this was written a very long time ago. It’s dated December 24, 1971. It’s practically a relic! After she reads the letter, I explain to her how Santa Claus has a few men stand in for him when he can’t be there in person and that it is our job to spread joy and happiness to children. I told her that now that she knows, she could come along with me as one of my Elves. She loves the idea! I asked her what she thought. She told me that it was “cool” that I was Santa Claus. She asked me if I had my own sleigh or if I had to borrow Santa’s. She also asked me if I get to go to the North Pole every once in a while to see Santa. Apparently she thought that, that’s where I was going on all these business trips. That one caught me off guard a bit. After telling this story to my boss at work, he said to me; “So you got another year out of her, huh?” When I was a boy, I only knew one Santa Claus – my grandfather. My parents never took me to see Santa at the mall or to a party where Santa was appearing. Every year, Santa would visit me and my brothers a few days before Christmas. We always felt honored that Santa would make a special visit to our house. After all, he always arrived with a police car and fire engine escort. Lights flashing and sirens blaring, Santa was usually accompanied by a policeman and my Dad (also a policeman). Santa sat with us for no more than 15 minutes and he was whisked off to another appointment. To this day, my parents never sat down with me and said, “ya know there is no such thing Santa Claus.” In fact, when I moved out of my parent’s house at 19, there were still gifts under the tree and presents in my stocking from Santa Claus. No one ever told us there was no Santa Claus. "No Santa Claus! Thank God! he 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."
  31. 3 points
    " One word only. What's one word you could give a new Santa or Mrs. Claus that is starting out that sums it all up? " I found this an interesting thought project! My answer was "Build". My one word of advice, "Build". But what did I mean? What do you "Build"? (Another word for "Build" would be "Develop") and so the the source for this particular blog. Lets begin at the start, shall we? When you first decided to portray "Santa" you needed to put together the look you will present as Santa Suits look pretty much the same all over with slight differences in detail, material used in construction of it and the items you accessorize the basic Suit with such as Belt, Buckle, Boots, pins, buttons, Beard, hat, Bag and bells. That is about it except.... clientele, presentation, advertising and building your business. Build your appearance by taking care with the selection of your Suit and materials making it. continue to build your appearance with Grooming your Hair, Beard and health. Since all of these are in a constant state of repair or maintenance Look in the Tool box and see what tools you have to work with here. Do you sew? Do you have some one that does? Hair care, do you understand how the chemicals you would be using on your head and face! Finally do you have qualified contractors on hand near by that can do that job for you charging a reasonable price for the service? That should cover the "Building" part, yes? No! Build your presentation. Build your "Act" as "Santa" that you will present to the Audience you perform for. Private Family visit, Corporate Employee Christmas Party. Corporate Customer Promotion party, Strolling Santa in a Store or Mall, Sitting in a Chair in a Mall as the subject focus in a "Three and Done!" photo opportunity or televisiting in a Children's Hospital or visiting an Adult Assisted care for Memory challenged (along with many more various situations). Better get out that tool box and see what tools you have to work with.and remember, if all you have is a hammer, your approach to every problem will be to pound them. Look to stock your tool chest with tools that will finesse the project rather than beat it to death with your "Mighty Ho, Ho, HO!" hammer. Having a Story telling Flat head Screw driver combined with a Carol singing Phillips head screw driver combined with an adjustable wrench stock of all purpose answers ready for those questions that seem to come every year. Don't forget to store a quantity of Nails, Screws and fasteners of various size and color as the best Hammer still needs a nail to pound to make something. Otherwise all you can do is tear down/beat down/Break down instead of build. All done?? NOOooooo! Not yet! Build your Clientele and Contacts! This takes different tools to build those circuits and maintain that transmission of information flowing. This is going to take a different type of tools but building this is very important as well to any growing Business. First you will need to have some Advertising "Brushes" to "Paint" your business with. Small brushes like Business cards well designed work here. Wider brushes would be press releases, Flyers, and developing a social media presence. From there you could look into an "Area Sprayer" to cover larger areas such as a well designed web page, mining your Email accounts, Wrapping your vehicle with contact information and pictures of your presentation then using (judiciously) constant contact to notify clients about your product. So the kind of tools you would use for this part of your Building project would be in the form of Pliers to hold the attention of your clientele while you connect them to your products. You will also need a supply of connectors and a few Splicing tools as well. So keep in mind when you go out to portray Santa for the Public, you want to build a beautiful modern Home and Office to work from. Try to be a step up from a rustic outhouse lacking running water, electricity and wifi. So pick up that tool box, look inside to see what you might need to add to it and then look at the project you have built with an eye to what and where you can add to make it better. Finally once you have your own house in order with tight doors and tight roof with a dry basement, You are ready to look around and offer help to others still working on their "Building" and stocking their tool box. This is called Mentoring. May your season be Joyous! Yours, Gordon Bailey SatBobS.com
  32. 3 points
    Question: Which of the Macy’s Santas, who work in the NYC Macy’s Santaland, get to ride on Santa’s float for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? Answer: They all do, or at least invited to. But not as Santa Claus. One of the many costumed or uncostumed characters who ride on, or accompany, the World’s Most Famous Parade Float. Changes in the Wind This was to be my fourth year returning as a Macy’s Santa in the Downtown Pittsburgh Store. It was late October and I still wasn’t contacted about schedules or shifts. When I finally was contacted, I was surprised to find a whole lot of changes had occurred. Gone was the photographer who had done it in this store with his family for over thirty years. Gone were the old Halco Majestic suits that had been worn. And gone was Santaland This year, a company called Freeze Frame had taken over the business of Santa Claus for Macy’s. Freeze Frame is mostly known for shooting photographs of people as they ride thrill rides in various American amusement parks, usually caught in some terrifying pose as the roller coaster is about to descend in it’s death-defying drop. Freeze Frame, a Florida company, made an offer that Macy’s couldn’t refuse. Freeze Frame would now completely control the Santaland photo operation in Macy’s stores in New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Next year they will expand to San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. The idea was to brand the “Macy’s Santa” image. You could go to any Macy’s in any part of the country and see the exact same Santa that appears in the infamous Herald Square store. Truth is, I don’t think any child (or average adult) sees the difference between a Macy’s Santa, Coca-Cola Santa or any other Santa. Santa wears a red suit with a fur trim and that’s that. Freeze Frame was scrambling to get everything ready in time. Creative Costumes in NYC was contracted to manufacture Santa suits based on the Macy’s in-store Santa Suit. Real leather boots were ordered from Italy. Beard and wigsets, made of genuine yak, were ordered from Atelier-Bassi of Switzerland. A” Macy’s Santa School” was quickly thrown together and presented to myself and the three other returning Santas. This was a 45 minute video shown on a laptop. School consisted of, 1) Taking care of the Macy’s Santa Beard and Wig, 2) Taking care of the Macy’s Santa Suit. And 3) Make-up. Oh yeah, and a quick how-to about getting kids on your lap, take the picture and get them off your lap in 45 seconds or less. This part of the video was absurdly demonstrated with Santa and an adult and I’ve never seen a Santa visit go that fast in my life. It became clear that this year was going to be less about a good customer experience and more about profit. The Legendary Suit The Macy’s Suit was made of wool and unlined. It consisted of a white, poet-style shirt, and wool overhauls with the straps sewn on that fastened on the front with buttons. This was made as a “one-size fits all” that the front buttons adjusted the length of the pants. The wool coat was comfortable and cool, but where the fur attached to the suit was exposed stitching and looked as if it were made in a hurry. The leather belt/harness was very loose-fitting. The tops of the straps were held onto the coat shoulders by the military-style espadrilles that had a snap button to hold things in place. A belly pad was optional; I didn’t need one. Leather wrist straps finished off the coat. The worst thing about wearing this suit was the hat. It had four bells around the fur trim and the way that the hat sat, there was a bell directly above my left and right ear. Every time my head moved the bells would ring right in my ears. It made it difficult to hear what the kids were saying and the constant ringing in my ears gave me a headache. By the end of my shift, I could still hear those bells ringing long after I went home. I complained about it and nothing was done. After the third night, not being able to take it anymore, I got a screwdriver and when no one was looking, removed the ball bearing out of the two bells above my ears. No one noticed and nothing was ever said about it. The fact that I had a real beard created a problem. I was asked to wear the yak beard over my own and I refused. Nothing against it, but there was no way that I could comfortably attach that beard and remove it without damaging my own beard that had been carefully colored and styled for the season. They had to send pictures of me with my beard to Macy’s officials to get approval. Macy’s approved and I was able to move forward. A long-standing good reputation surely helped. I was told that I had the only real beard in the system. Now the Fun Begins... Freeze Frame may know a lot about taking pictures but they didn’t know much about Santa. They viewed Santa as sort of a fixture to take pictures with. You could put anybody in that red suit (even a mannequin) as long as they got the picture (and the money). I was told more than once that I was taking too long with the kids and had to get the picture immediately. A funny thing was happening. People were bringing their kids to see Santa and not buying the picture that was taken. What could be going wrong? After all, this was the famous Macy’s Santa, the same one who appears in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and who starred in the movie, “Miracle on 34th Street”. Advertised locally as being the one and only, real Santa Claus. They were scratching their heads, puzzled in amazement. Now was the time for Freeze Frame to learn a little bit about what Santa is all about. Basic Santa 101 The main reason that parents take their children to see Santa Claus is to give the kids a good, Santa experience. If I’m doing my job right, those parents will relive their own childhood when they see that their kids having a good time, and they have that special glow in their eyes. When a good experience is created, a picture is naturally wanted. People bring their children to Macy’s expecting the best possible experience. If I rush a little girl onto my lap who is even a tiny bit afraid of Santa, she will cry. If I spend a little bit of time, coupled with a little Santa magic, the child will willingly sit on my lap and smile. Also, parents will not buy a picture if their kids don’t look their best. It doesn’t matter how good Santa looks, the parents are only looking at their own child. Freeze Frame did not understand that. Has Anyone Seen Santaland? The fun of Santaland was gone, too. The old Santaland was on the 7th floor. There were reindeer, polar bears and other woodland creatures to look at while you were waiting in line. Santa’s throne room looked like a living room with his chair, other furniture and pictures & decorations on the wall. A nice, pleasant place, it was coupled with the Children’s Very Own Gift Shop and Macy’s Holiday Lane which was their selection of Christmas decorations. The new “Santaland” was moved to the 1st floor. It consisted of Santa’s throne and one Christmas tree located between the escalator and the perfume counter. Besides the camera equipment and cash register, that was it. It had been determined that Santa on the first floor would be more visible and generate more sales. Once again money was put ahead of the customer and the only thing generated was complaints. The season opened and the crowds were lining up to see Santa. If a typical visit to Santa is to last 45 seconds for one child, shouldn’t two children be a minute-and-a-half? The “rush ‘em on your lap rush ‘em off” approach wasn’t working. Children were crying and parents weren’t buying pictures. What could be wrong? Freeze Frame finally decided to listen to the Santas and the helpers who had been doing the job for years. Return of “Miracle” It’s true, there are some kids that will go through in 45 seconds without a hitch. I try to give each child a “good” visit with Santa. That means a little fun, a little laughter, and a smile on every face. Memories are being made. The children that are scared take a little more time. But when I see a scared face turn into a happy one I know I’ve done my job. Happy kids = happy parents and sales go with that. Also, my elves like to take a little time and make sure that hair is in place, dresses are straightened and hands are placed nicely on the lap before the picture is taken. All this makes for a “good” visit with Santa and people are happy. “We’ll be known as the helpful store, the friendly store,... the store that places public service ahead of profits. And, consequently, we’ll make more profits than ever before.” -R.H. Macy from “Miracle on 34th Street” This idea holds true today. Service sells. We even had a came up with a place where customers could put their coats and packages. Parents began buying pictures again, and Macy’s reputation for providing quality and service was intact. I was glad when Freeze Frame decided to listen. It was like when the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes that day. Pittsburgh became the store with the highest amount of sales per customer visit in the country, and I started to like working for Freeze Frame after all. I work a lot of private parties and events throughout the season, but I always have a soft spot in my heart for Macy’s and I keep coming back. It’s long hours and low pay and I use it mainly for the nights that I don’t have anything else planned. Since I became hooked on the original “Miracle on 34th Street”, I’ve always wanted to be Santa Claus for Macy’s. With me, I’m proud to wear the Macy’s suit and enjoy the magic that comes with it. Getting the Job Freeze Frame now hires all of the Santas, Elves, Helpers and Photographers for the Macy’s stores across the country that have Santa Claus in them, including New York City. These stores are mostly old, downtown department stores that Macy’s have taken over the past few years and want to keep the local traditions intact. They typically advertise in the Help Wanted section of your local Craig’s List starting around October. They have called back a lot of people who have worked in previous years but always have an eye open for new possibilities. They hire all races and ages but you must pass a drug test and a background check, which is done at their expense. In New York City, I’m told, they hire a lot of out-of-work actors looking for work for the season. The pay is lower than what a mall Santa makes and it is preferred that you don’t have a real beard. There is no bonus for making quota. The schedule is very flexible and the job is usually shared between several Santas. It can be very demanding at times, but still can be fun. You will experience many different types of people, both children and adults, and you’ll form memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. If you have Santa in your heart and like making children happy, you’ll find the joy of working at Macy’s. I know I did.
  33. 3 points
    At one point or another, either here in my blog, or somewhere in the forum, I'm certain that I have mentioned that I am a Toastmaster. Currently a member of two clubs, as well as being the co-manager of the District 37 Bookstore. This evening, I took the opportunity to present a speech on the topic of Santa Claus. This is the text that I had written out yesterday. Much of what I presented was extemporaneous. The speech was scheduled to go 15 - 20 minutes, for the project "Speaking to Entertain". I hit 20:15, which is just about perfect. Ho Ho Ho [real belly laugh] Thank you Mr. Toastmaster. Fellow Toastmasters. By a show of hands, who in this room believes in Santa Claus? [Count hands. Shake head sadly.] This world would be a better place if more of us believed. Tonight, I’m going to describe my experience as Santa Claus. I will describe how Santa’s are working around the country. Finally, I will convince you why Santa is real. Last month, I had the opportunity to play Santa at our neighborhood Holiday Festival. Normally, I am not involved in my Homeowners Association’s Social Committee, but leading into the Christmas season, I decided that it was time to attend. During that meeting, a number of topics related to the Holiday Festival were discussed. When the topic of Santa Claus was brought up, the new Board President, who had played the roll last year, stated that he guessed that he could do it again. Everyone looked at him… a clean shaven, fairly trim gentleman, and then they looked over at me. One of the other Board members in attendance said “Why don’t we have Mike as Santa. He’d make a good Santa!” Two weeks later, it is time for the Holiday Festival. I arrived early to help set up the event, which was to be held in the community pool parking lot. The borrowed Santa suit was hidden inside the fenced off pool area, behind the pool house. As the time for the festival approached, I slipped through the gate to don the suit. Santa suits are designed to fit over normal clothing. However, it isn’t easy to put on. The jacket isn’t too bad, but the Santa pants require taking off your shoes… in my case, cowboy boots… donning the bulky Santa pants, pulling the fake Santa boot tops on, donning shoes or boots under the boot tops, and then draping the boot tops over the shoes or boots. Can we say awkward? Since I am not particularly flexible anyway, this contortionist act took me about 15 minutes, and left me winded. Finally, more or less ready, I circled around the back of the pool house to emerge in the parking lot, where the members of the community were beginning to gather. As arranged, a picnic shelter had been set up with a chair for Santa, along with camera equipment one of the residents who was a professional photographer was supplying. After I had settled in, with a bowl of candy canes to one side, children of the community were brought forth one by one. "Ho Ho Ho. What’s your name little girl?" "Have you been a good little boy this year?" "What would you like Santa to bring you this Christmas?" I’ve never taken formal Santa training, but I had these basics down. I learned quickly that there are three types of children… generally divided by age. The young ones, up to about 2 or 3 years old, don’t want to have anything to do with this big, mean looking man in a funny red suit. As often as not, they’ll scream their head off. I guess dealing with this group is something that they teach you at Santa School. The second group, slightly older, and up to about 6 or 7 years old, are the true believers. Santa is not only real, but they get to meet him! These are the kids that are the most fun to work with, since they take the situation seriously. I know that I could improve my interactions with youngsters of this group, but I enjoyed talking with them. The last group of kids were the older ones. They are the ones who are skeptical about the whole Santa thing. Generally, the only reason that they go through the motions is that they have younger siblings who still believe. That’s OK. I don’t mind that they think I’m not the Santa Claus of legend. There was a fourth group who I interacted with as Santa Claus that day. That was the adults at the festival. You would not believe how many grownups wanted their picture taken with Santa! We even had a group of firemen that came on a firetruck as part of the festival that wanted their picture taken. I know that they knew that I was just a guy in a suit, but it was all fun, and I enjoyed my day as Santa. Acting as Santa can be a lot of fun. But it can also be a business. Every year, malls and large department stores around the country host Santa to greet children and take photos. This trend, which started in the 1930s, has become a cultural norm. More recently, as the lines for Santa at malls become longer and longer, some Santa’s have found work appearing at various community and business events, or even performing home visits. Regional, National, and International Santa Organizations provide a social network for people who work as Santa, Mrs. Claus, Elves, and Reindeer Handlers. The handout that I have passed around is the monthly newsletter from one such organization, the ClausNet Gazette, generated by the members of ClausNet, a group of over 2,400 Santa’s and related people. Other Santa organizations include IBRBS, the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas, MOTS, the Mystic Order of Traditional Santas, and AORBS, the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas. Santa training is available from a several Santa schools, both in person, or electronically. Some of the Santa schools include The Santa Claus Conservatory, the Northern Lights Academy, Schools4Santa, and the original Santa Claus School. Santa gear is available from any number of stores for a wide variety of prices, from a cheap Walmart Santa polyester outfit to custom made lined velveteen suits costing thousands of dollars. Santa performers can expect to earn adequate remunerations for their efforts, with Santa’s potentially earning $10k - $50k in a Christmas season. Santa Ed Taylor in Southern California rakes in over $100k doing Santa year round, including Television commercials and similar work. Of course, not every Santa is in it to earn a living. Santa Johnathan, in Northern California, spends an entire day every year at San Francisco’s Childrens Hospital. Santa Schwindy, Tom Schwindenhammer in Pennsylvania, accepts donations for the Northampton Food bank and area families in need. Santa Nick, Mark Ramsey out in Oregon, brought in over $65k of charitable contributions in 2016, doing Corporate events and home visits, all of which was donated to charity. Will I play Santa again? You betcha! I fully intend to move into full Santa mode over the coming year… acquiring proper Santa training and purchasing my own Santa suit as funds permit. I know that I won’t be bringing in the big money that some of the other Santa’s out there do any time soon, but if I can cover most of my expenses while I gain experience and make some children’s Christmas merry, I will be satisfied. Once I get my bearings, I expect that I can do charity work in addition to the paid opportunities. Is Santa real? I believe he is. He may be a conglomeration of ideas handed down through the generations, from Saint Nicholas, a 4th Century Greek bishop of Myra, to the Coca Cola advertisements of the 1930s, but he represents an ideal. An ideal that we can bring happiness to people, young and old. An ideal that it is better to give than it is to receive. Santa is as real as any one of us who is willing to put the time and effort into portraying the jolly old elf and making children and adults happy, either for pay or for charity.
  34. 3 points
    Ok folks, the second textbook for the SatBobS Santa school is now available through Amazon! Check it out! http://www.amazon.com/Santa-Business-Being-Nuts-Bolts/dp/0692582908?tag=onlytoyscom-20
  35. 3 points
    Holy week (or Passion Week) has always been especially meaningful to me. In my family, Lent was a time to reflect and renew. During this time of reflection, I am often brought to tears of humbleness thinking about the sacrifice that was made for me. The last week of Christ's life, as told in the Bible, is filled with amazing accounts, leading to the gut wrenching account of betrayal, denial and crucifixion. Then ending in the great crescendo of Christ's resurrection. This week I attended yet another family funeral; number 4 in about 10 weeks. First two wonderful elderly Aunts, then my sister and now a cousin (younger than I). As I sat in the church, observing the draped crucifix, I noticed a realistic looking rooster high in a window, perched on a red draped small bale of straw. A vivid reminder to all of us, how we all fall short of our good intentions and promises. As I looked at all of this, I thought of all that has transformed these past few weeks on ClausNet. We argue and discuss, like a dysfunctional family reunion. All having the healthy need to agree and disagree in order to grow. One theme always comes out. Jesus is the reason for the season. But there is an added truth. The one factor that makes Christians different from any other religion is THIS season. All great philosophers are born and they die. All have followers who idolize their teachings. But only Christians have a living savior. He is risen. He lives. Not only does he live, but He took our place. We are the reason, for this Season. He died for us. Without this, celebrating His birth makes us no different from any other religion. Bill had a beard long before he became an Ambassador for Santa Claus. Most of the time, he's just plain, old Bill who happens to have a white beard. But looking around this sanctuary I realized , at least i think I understood a bit better, that if we tried to make him be Santa all year long, we were only reminding people of Christ's birth, or Christmas. That is only half the story. The real story is in His Resurrection. These are the musing of an old woman working through her grief in the loss of a sister, whose fate lies solely in the hands of God, not mine. I do not mean to impose my beliefs on anyone. Nor do we plan on having Bill shave his beard. But I am hoping that maybe this blog, poorly written as it may be, will be of comfort to others who chance upon it. David Meece wrote a wonderful song that seems to fit so well into our life ( Bills and Mine). I hope it will be a Blessing to anyone who reads this. God Bless you. Judi
  36. 3 points
    I can't keep track of my hospital time. It all sort of blurs together. Evel Knievel Last month I got another new belly button. I was in the hospital. For 17 consecutive days, I was tortured, strangled, bled, beaten, starved, hobbled, weighed like cattle, sleep deprived, and connected to more machinery than the Large Hadron Collider. My bowels were monitored like the CIA monitors Putin. Yes, and I was given yet another new belly-button. I don't know why. What the heck? Although the exact date of my injury is not certain, officially, I suffered from a hernia and bowel obstruction. So how on earth did this happen? I don't know. I am blaming a gardening accident. Why not? I was gardening in the world's tiniest garden. Here's what I remember. At the beginning of June I'm not feeling well and I (a) call my daughter, and (b go to the hospital and I say "I have horrible heartburn symptoms similar to a heart attack I once had," and the hospital says, "take some antacids and pay this bill for $3,545 and go pay your primary physician another $350. " Okay. I take the antacids, and that doesn't work, so I (a) call my daughter, and (b go back to the hospital and say "I think I'm having a heart attack." And the hospital says, "doesn't look like it, but pay this bill for $7,322, and go pay your cardiologist some more money." And then the third time I (a) call my daughter, and (b I go to the hospital and I say "I think I have a hernia?" and they say "Well you DO have a hernia and we are performing EMERGENCY SURGERY TONIGHT and then we will keep you in the hospital for a month in the cardiac unit and the bill will be about as much as the national debt." Ready, set, go. Dear Santas. I can tell by reading your blogs and entries on Facebook that an awful lot of you have health problems - - a lot of them major. Of course, many of you suffer from diabetes, obesity, heart problems, and other day to day ailments of the aging populace who may not be taking as good of care of themselves as possible. Personally, I've had breast cancer (twice) mastectomies, reconstruction surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, bone disease, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and just general after effects of being a human medical test subject, or as we like to say in super med-code, participating in free "clinical trials." Don't you want to try the latest drug unapproved by anyone? Don't you want to help humanity? Uhm, no. I tell you my friends, beware of sepia toned illustrative booklets called "Reconstruction and your Femininity" or "This is your Heart." Please run if your surgeon pulls out a black Sharpie and starts drawing on your skin! Your belly button is in danger. Going to the hospital is not for pansies. Common sense goes out the window at the hospital parking lot. The things we know absolutely without argument that are good for us - - a good night's sleep (or other rest), fresh air (the windows are sealed), good food (Oh, let me go on!), a warm shower, privacy in the bathroom . . . these are things that will be denied to you the entire time you are in residence at the hospital. Even standard nursing care is not what it once was. My nurses spent so much time trying to keep my major i.v. pole ( which I named T-Rex because of it's large and unruly size) from making loud alarm noises and trying to unwrap medication while wearing plastic gloves, they didn't have time to give me enough cord to get out of my chair to pee. I'm worried what the bill will be - - because the price of wrapping a Pepcid A-C in 17 layers of plastic wrap is expensive - - and then there's the labeling, tracking, scanning, unwrapping, and serving it in an individual paper/plastic mini cup … Yes, there is one good thing - - I have a morphine pump. When it runs out, (and after a loud alarm sounds for fifteen minutes) it takes three RNs and a special key to change it out to make sure that no nurse has access to any of it. It even has a "suck proof" plastic tube that runs the entire 19" from the machine to my arm. Apparently, tube-sucking hospital workers are a giant threat in the medical world. I also have a heart monitor with a plastic thingy that goes on my finger. There are certain things I cannot do with a plastic thingy on my finger, and so I occasionally take it off. This causes the heart monitor commandos to storm my room and demand that I reattach the plastic finger thingy immediately. I cannot lock them out of the bathroom because the door doesn't close. I can still hit, though. The hospital has provided me with an adjustable bed, and an adjustable chair. After a couple of days of being forced into a fetal position in the middle of the jack-knifed bed, I move to the semi comfortable adjustable chair. If I pile the pillows in a certain way, I can make a sort of nest/pallet on which to try to doze from time to time in between being tortured. This is usually between 2-4 in the afternoon when the floor lights are dimmed and everyone watches General Hospital on T.V. It is much more interesting than the real hospital. If I complain loudly enough, I am allowed to get halfway into the shower while holding T-Rex outside the stall. Do not allow the CNA to "come back in a few minutes" to do this. They will never come back. It is like them saying "manana." For those of you who do not speak Spanish, manana does not mean "tomorrow" - - it means "not today." My shower requires several layers of saran wrap and water proof tape. Make sure to put a sign on the door, or the cleaning staff will think it is a superb time to disinfect the clock on your wall. (They will not empty the bucket of bile by your bed, because they do not have the right color uniform.) If you insist, someone may bring you "towels" - - a 4x4 loofa cloth to dab yourself dry. On day 15 I was allowed to eat broth. Nurses say: If you want to EAT anything, we will give you another shot after you eat, so be sure to buzz us if you see any FOOD so we can do this HURT shot some more, okay?" If you stay in the hospital day after day and night after sleepless night, you begin to learn certain things. The food people are not allowed to remove your food tray from your teeny-tiny room. The food people can only BRING you the tray. You should know that, you idiot. The CNAs are allowed to take out the food trays IF they have time (this could be manana). They wear a different colored uniform from the RNs. Be sure to find out what the different colored uniforms mean, they are: White lab coat with optional stethoscope - probable doctor; dark blue - Registered Nurse; burgundy - Certified Nurse Assistant; Black pants and vest - food bringer; white uniform - visiting nurse (unable to help); khaki pants and white shirt - cleaning staff; Cleric's collar - holy person. You do not, generally, want to see the holy person - - it could mean "the end is near." Also, while colors may vary from hospital to hospital, the cleric collar is pretty standard. I begged the nurses to dispose of the dialog they wished to accompany each and every shot that was administered day or night, whether or not I was awake or asleep "WAKE UP! Now, I'm going to be giving you a very stingy SHOT in your STOMACH (because there is not enough room in the 25 I.V.s you have running in both your arms). This will only HURT a little, and I am going to rub your stomach with alcohol and squeeze and bruise it so it doesn't HURT so much, and let me know - - where do you want me to give you this HURTY stingy shot?" Silently, the nurse will muse "I will be sure to unwrap and display this shot right in front of your eyes, even if you do not want me to tell you about it. Look at the drippy medicine coming off the sharp needle. It HURTS." I am a lady. I do not like to talk about poop. Not how it comes about. Not how we dispose of it. Not what it looks like, or smells like, or it's color, texture or size and shape. When I have to examine another's poop I gag. Whether the poop belongs to a small person in a diaper or a large dog, I gag. This is the only reason I do not own a dog. I love dogs. Dog Poop makes me gag - wretch - vomit. Also, my mom did a really good job. I can't poop unless it is in a safe, secure bathroom. Preferably, my own. Preferably with aroma therapy candles. The door must be locked and the acoustics silent to the outside. I do not camp, because I cannot poop in the woods. Therefore, after three days at a scenic lake side, I am uncomfortable, irritable, and likely to harm you with camping equipment. Does a Nana Bear poop in the woods? No. Unfortunately, the entire dependence of my GOING HOME from the hospital, became linked to my poop. If I did not poop a certain amount, during a certain time period, under certain specifications, I would not be allowed to go home, and the torturing would continue. This was difficult for me to do, as stated above. Finally, day 17 - - I poop. A bat signal goes out to the universe. Heraldry announces: The Queen has Pooped - - Long Live the Queen! Staples and i.v.s are removed. Bluebirds alight on my shoulders. The emergency surgeon had promised me a tiny 1" incision on my abdomen. It turned into a 4" incision and a new belly button. That's okay. My old belly button (post 2nd mastectomy) was about two inches beneath my previous left breast. Now, it's lower and to the right. I still have no idea why anyone thinks I need one. I have never been consulted on this. This could make for a good sepia-toned illustration - - or perhaps a graphic novel. Travels of the Mystic Belly Button I am not going to post a picture of my new belly button. I was tempted to post a picture of my stapled scar, and the tubes running in and out of me, and the giant equipment pole I called "T-Rex" - - but I have stopped myself. It is a rule I have about posting pictures from the hospital - - although I did finally break down on day 11 and announce on Facebook I was in the hospital. I needed sympathy and support. Thanks to all that gave it! That's the other thing everyone needs to recover. Sympathy and support. Oh, and sushi - - but that's another story. Be good, for goodness sake! Santa Nana
  37. 3 points
    It's funny, but I can still remember the first time I ever put on a beard to perform as Santa Claus. I was six at the time and my very first beard was made of cotton balls glued to a back made from a white t-shirt. Mom made a whole suit and beard for my first grade pageant. The beard had a large rubber band that, when put on, pulled the beard tight under my nose. I remember that feeling of a tickle under my nose as plain today as when I first put it on, along with the smell of the cotton. I then graduated into a series of inexpensive beards going from a mohair "Moses" Church pageant wig and beard to a curly "fishing twine" beard to a synthetic, nearly waist length number. They all had a difference in how they were worn and how they felt. All of them had attached mustaches that absolutely drove me crazy, until I learned to use Spirit Gum. But the discomfort and a need for realism eventually caused me to grow my own beard, never knowing that better materials were even in existence. Had I known about the various yak and human hair materials and styles back then I probably never would have grown out my beard and my wife would have enjoyed the last ten years of our marriage. But I am digressing. Last Saturday marked my first Santa appearance for 2013. I was asked to visit a family at our local hospice house, where a grandfather who was unable to celebrate Christmas with his grandkids was finally able to see them and celebrate. Due to advanced cancer he knew it would be his last. He wanted Santa there to just see their eyes light up one last time. When I originally received the call I was hesitant to do it. I had shaved, remember, and my new custom beard (I ordered from Custom Wig Company) would not be ready until March. True, I had the old synthetic and an old yak set that I had accumulated along the way. But I was so afraid that I would not be able to do it without that "perfect" look. With great reluctancy (of which I am now ashamed to have had), I finally told them I would be there. Which beard to wear? The old synthetic beard looked a fright, and I felt like they would think me more a Jerry Garcia impersonator than a Santa. (Funny, I didn't think that when I used to wear it. Guess I have matured a bit.) So my choice was the yak set. I didn't have time to wash and style as I have read here on Clausnet, so I curled as best I could and just fluffed and hairsprayed. Though the wired mustache was a bit tricky to form I stood back and looked at myself. I saw Santa, and my hope was that the family that I was about to visit would too. You know what? They did. I entered the room to smiles and flashing cameras. I hugged some of the adults and shook the hands of the little ones who were a bit timid and awe struck. I kidded the grandfather about the "little red wagon I brought him when he was 5." With a smile across his weak cheeks, he told me he still had it which his grandchildren could not believe. After a few more pictures and a few moments of explaining to the children that "Christmas can be any day as long as you keep it in your heart" I departed. On the way out I told them that they would be in Santa's prayers, and they have been. Only a twenty minute visit, but priceless for that family who needed it. I saw something I have seen many many times over all these years - the smile of a child. But for some reason it was more prevalent. You see, I went in feeling inferior for lack of what was on my face. However, what made me decide to do it at all was the feeling in my heart that said "Do this." You see, my love for and duty to children in need of joy won out. My heart won the day because as Santa - just Santa - was able to touch their hearts. That was and is what it's all about. I have said a hundred times (and have heard others say hundreds of times) that it is not what is on your chin but what is in your heart that makes a Santa. I have shaved to truly recapture that for myself and to keep that thrill of the visit alive for the children I visit. With that visit and the realization of this cherished fact of our community, along with my coming back around after all these years to a traditional beard, I have indeed recaptured the essence of the whole thing. It is a lesson I always knew but needed again. With the old familiar feeling of a tickle under my nose I have really practiced that lesson and found its truth locked inside. Love plain and simple, not girth or hair, indeed make Santa Claus real.
  38. 3 points
    What makes a Santa? It’s not whether you have a real beard or a designer beard. It’s not whether you’re plump or a skinny right jolly old elf. It’s not whether you have the suit that cost hundreds of dollars or the economical suit right out of the box. It’s not based on how many appearances you make each year. It’s not based on how much money you make or charity organizations you help. It’s not based on how many Santa groups or organizations you belong to or if you can sing and carry a tune. The true making of a Santa, Mrs. Claus or an Elf is in the heart. That’s right it comes from the heart. It does not matter when it happened, whether just this year or many many sleigh rides ago. At some time we all got the calling to become a Santa helper. For those of you that have the true gift in your heart you understand what I am talking about when I say you got the calling. I still have the very first letter given to me as Santa from a child. Still remember the smiles and the twinkle in the children’s eye’s the first time I portrayed Santa. And I still remember the first heart tugging request that was made by a little girl that I knew could not be fulfilled by a mere mortal in my Santa outfit. There is a reason why we do what we do. From playing Santa Claus or the supporting roles of Mrs. Claus and elves all the way to even reindeer costumes. And that my reader is simply what comes to each of us in sharing and giving the simple gift we bring of joy. As the season approaches I say a prayer for each and every one of you. For a safe trip if your traveling away from family to support a mall or just a few miles to do some smaller visits. I pray for your safe travels and that the true meaning of Christmas been seen through you in each and every child from 1 to 92 and beyond. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas! Santa Brian Voyles
  39. 2 points
    Yes, I know that I promised myself to only post every week or so, but I can't help myself. This definitely doesn't fit in elsewhere in the Forum, but I thought you might enjoy it anyway. As I mentioned in my introduction, I am an Amateur Radio (HAM) Operator (KK4ETS), and have a number of contacts in that field. One of the local hams (Gary Pearce KN4AQ) wrote this variation of The Night Before Christmas. Not the only Ham Radio related version, but the only one by a person I have met personally. I've linked to a UTube of Gary reading the poem too. Enjoy! A Ham's Night Before Christmas 'Twas the night before Christmas, And all through two-meters, Not a signal was keying up Any repeaters. The antennas reached up From the tower, quite high, To catch the weak signals That bounced from the sky. The children, Tech-Pluses, Took their HT's to bed, And dreamed of the day They'd be Extras, instead. Mom put on her headphones, I plugged in the key, And we tuned 40 meters For that rare ZK3. When the meter was pegged by a signal with power. It smoked a small diode, and, I swear, shook the tower. Mom yanked off her phones, And with all she could muster Logged a spot of the signal And the DX Packet Cluster, While I ran to the window And peered up at the sky, To see what could generate RF that high. It was way in the distance, But the moon made it gleam - A flying sleigh, with an Eight element beam, And a little old driver Who looked slightly mean. So I thought for a moment, That it might be Wayne Green. But no, it was Santa, The Santa of Hams. On a mission, this Christmas, To clean up the bands. He circled the tower, Then stopped in his track, And he slid down the coax Right into the shack. While Mom and I hid Behind stacks of CQ, This Santa of hamming Knew just what to do. He cleared off the shack desk Of paper and parts, And filled out all my late QSLs For a start. He ran copper braid, Took a steel rod and pounded It into the earth, till The station was grounded. He tightened loose fittings, Resoldered connections, Cranked down modulation, Installed lightning protection. He neutralized tubes In my linear amp... (Never worked right before- Now it works like a champ). A new, low-pass filter Cleaned up the TV. He corrected the settings In my TNC. He repaired the computer That would not compute, And he backed up the hard drive And got it to boot. Then, he reached really deep In the bag that he brought, And he pulled out a big box. A new rig? I thought! A new Kenwood? An Icom? A Yaesu, for me?! (If he thought I'd been bad It might be QRP!) Yes! The Ultimate Station! How could I deserve this? Could it be all those hours That I worked Public Service? He hooked it all up And in record time, quickly Worked 100 countries, All down on 160. I should have been happy, It was my call he sent. But the cards and the postage Will cost two month's rent! He made final adjustments, And left a card by the key: "To Gary, from Santa Claus. Seventy-Three." Then he grabbed his HT, Looked me straight in the eye, Punched a code on the pad, And was gone - no good-bye. I ran back to the station, And the pile-up was big, But a card from St. Nick Would be worth my new rig. Oh, too late, for his final Came over the air. It was copied all over. It was heard everywhere. The Ham's Santa exclaimed What a ham might expect, "Merry Christmas to all, And to all, good DX." (c)1996 Gary Pearce KN4AQ Permission granted for any print or electronic reproduction.
  40. 2 points
    This morning, I finally took the time to bleach my hair. For those of you who have followed my postings, you will know that I had my beard professionally whitened by Gary Belo, in Highpoint, NC, back in March. Because it was just for my photo shoot, I didn't do my hair. So for the last three months, I've been wandering around with medium dark brown hair, and a more or less white beard. This wasn't a huge change for me, since while my hair has remained dark, my beard had been going grey for the last few years. It was always my intent to get around to the hair sometime before the Christmas season. It could have waited for a few more months, but I decided to proceed with the change now because I was hoping to do a presentation at my Toastmasters club that white hair would lend credibility to. I have been studying the process of self bleaching hair care. After reviewing a number of sites, I have concluded that the easiest and safest method was the one developed by Shannon Settles, who works up in Wake Forest, NC. I purchased the Trionics developer and Prism Lights bleaching powder recommended by the process over the last month. I won't describe the process here. Shannon goes into excellent detail in his PDF. However, I will say that I mixed up a small batch, and slathered it all over my head. I then used some plastic wrap to cover the hair, to prevent drying and reduce fumes for the 20 minutes or so I let the bleaching occur. Then it was jump in the shower and rinse, shampoo, and conditioner. Is my hair white? Not exactly. There's still a little bit of a yellow tint, and I can see that I didn't have complete coverage, resulting in a little dark patch near one temple, and along my neckline. This isn't totally unexpected, since the professional who did my beard said my hair would probably take two treatments. I will repeat tomorrow morning, and hopefully things will come out whiter. Then I just have to redo my beard, which is showing the dark roots. But for those of you who have been in this game for a while, you probably know the process better than I do, unless you are so fortunately that you don't need the boost.
  41. 2 points
    There are quite a few charities that I love to work with, mostly involving children’s advocacy and care, music, and education. I find that as we find ways to help within our communities, we are gifted with opportunities to grow, to touch other people’s lives, and truly make a difference. I find at times that I may be grumpy, depressed, or negative, finding ways to serve others is a great medicine. One of my favorite volunteer positions is as a curator and docent for one of the more important bonsai gardens in the US, the Lake Merritt Bonsai Garden. The tree next to me in the picture is just one of the more than 200 amazing trees on display. A black pine that was on display at the 1915 Pan-Pacific World Fair of San Francisco. At the time it was a 300 year old famous bonsai tree and a true novelty to see here. Now, over 400 years old, it’s a special treat to care for this tree and see it stays healthy for future generations. This is one of my decompressing activities to relax and think. Recently during a day in the garden volunteering with my son, I took an oppotunity to reflect on things. Our life is but a short moment, are we leaving something positive behind when the time comes to pass from our mortal life? Have we helped brighten someone else’s life? Made a difficult time easier for someone? Supported a good cause? I think all of us can do SO much. There is a phrase used often at the garden, “Wabi-Sabi” it’s a Japanese concept seen in art and ascetics that could apply to us in the Santa world too. It means, “Nothing is perfect, nothing is permanent, nothing is finished.” I apply this to how I portray Santa, it can be applied anywhere. From purposely placing a patch on Santa’s bag or other item to make it look real, used, loved, like it’s so old it has been repaired. It could also mean an internal dialog in recognizing, “I am never done learning, I am never done finding ways to be better...always a student.” Sorry for the long post. As I enjoy the peace and quiet of the garden, wearing my ISC Denver shirt and yet again, my mind goes to Santa Claus and the Christmas community. I love my time here and I love spending time with my son learning. Have an amazing day everyone! Make someone smile today, tell someone they are loved, and find ways to make a difference. Love you all. Johnathan
  42. 2 points
    This past week Bill and I were in MI taking care of business as his mother's legal guardian ( she has Alzheimer's ) and also some of the affairs involving his sister's and bother's in law death this past December. It brought back thoughts of a blog I wrote 4-5 years ago and i have decided to share it once more, I present this with love. Holy week (or Passion Week) has always been especially meaningful to me. In my family, Lent was a time to reflect and renew. During this time of reflection, I am often brought to tears of humbleness thinking about the sacrifice that was made for me. The last week of Christ's life, as told in the Bible, is filled with amazing accounts, leading to the gut wrenching account of betrayal, denial and crucifixion. Then ending in the great crescendo of Christ's resurrection. This week I attended yet another family funeral; number 4 in about 10 weeks. First two wonderful elderly Aunts, then my sister and now a cousin (younger than I). As I sat in the church, observing the draped crucifix, I noticed a realistic looking rooster high in a window, perched on a red draped small bale of straw. A vivid reminder to all of us, how we all fall short of our good intentions and promises. As I looked at all of this, I thought of all that has transformed these past few weeks on ClausNet. We argue and discuss, like a dysfunctional family reunion. All having the healthy need to agree and disagree in order to grow. One theme always comes out. Jesus is the reason for the season. But there is an added truth. The one factor that makes Christians different from any other religion is THIS season. All great philosophers are born and they die. All have followers who idolize their teachings. But only Christians have a living savior. He is risen. He lives. Not only does he live, but He took our place. We are the reason, for this Season. He died for us. Without this, celebrating His birth makes us no different from any other religion. Bill had a beard long before he became an Ambassador for Santa Claus. Most of the time, he's just plain, old Bill who happens to have a white beard. But looking around this sanctuary I realized , at least i think I understood a bit better, that if we tried to make him be Santa all year long, we were only reminding people of Christ's birth, or Christmas. That is only half the story. The real story is in His Resurrection. Please think about this when you are out and about these next couple of days. Please remember to keep the emphasis on Christ’s sacrifice and leave the glory there- not on Santa. These are the musing of an old woman working through her grief in the loss of a sister, whose fate lies solely in the hands of God, not mine. I do not mean to impose my beliefs on anyone. Nor do we plan on having Bill shave his beard. But I am hoping that maybe this blog, poorly written as it may be, will be of comfort to others who chance upon it. David Meece wrote a wonderful song that seems to fit so well into our life ( Bills and Mine). I hope it will be a Blessing to anyone who reads this. God Bless you. Judi
  43. 2 points
    The most recent change in how Bass Pro Shops handle their Christmas seasonal business has once again inspired people to grab a handy soap box and pontificate upon how "They" would prefer the Bass Pro Shop Corporation to do business the way "They" would prefer since the "Bone head Greedy new guys in charge" obviously do not know what they are doing. Besides it affected "My" pocket book! "This will come back to hurt their business!" and often seen "It is all the fault of (someone that has absolutely no fault or power in the business decision currently happening) and that person should be eliminated!" (That last is one of my personal favorites! I spend many a happy hour trying to figure out how anyone outside of the top corporate structure has any power to sway managed to effect such a change.) But then I am easily amused. The path to success is not to bemoan the loss of the past opportunities. It is in looking and examining the present and all it entails to find a situation that might help you achieve that success once again in a different way. To all that this event and others that have happened in the past and for those who will be affected adversely in the near future when other changes in the way the people that hire us to portray the role of "Santa Claus" go into effect, You have my heartfelt condolences. That and $12 will buy you a large coffee at Starbucks. Maybe. The point is the ONLY constant in any field of business is CHANGE. Change is constant and comes in many small and occasionally large ways every day. There is one aspect to this process that every individual has a great deal of power and control over this situation and that is in how you deal with it. That lesson can be used in every part of your life! I certainly used that attitude in my recent battle with Cancer and also in how I operate my personal business which is the "Santa and the Business of being Santa" school. Faced with no fewer than 30 new Schools, Symposiums, Round Tables, Colleges, Conservatories and Universities (opened since Feb.2014 when my school popped into existence) chose to call a Spade a Spade when describing my educational effort. It is a technical School for people that wish to learn the basic issues, a lot of the intermediate concepts and a few of the advanced ideas involved in this business of being a professional Independent Contractor Entertainer from one that has been exactly that for 39 years as of 2017. That has proven to be a good way to advertise what I actually have to offer but a poor example to "sell" my school as a lot of people prefer to be made "Amazing", "Outstanding", "Extraordinary" or any of the other "buzzword" claims you usually hear on "Ronco" television ads for "Turnip Twaddlers". The reason for this is simple. No one can do this except the person that is taking the class. It does not matter where or from who you get your information from as long as it is factual and up to date, the only person that can make you any of those titles is (look in the mirror) You!. Since I refuse to go down the same path as all my competitors in the "Santa/Christmas Entertainer/Mrs. Claus/Seasonal Worker/Independent Contractor Entertainer" educational field of technical school education, I looked for other ways to stand out (sometimes in the rain) from the crowd as something different in how it operates and what it teaches. This is how I have broken new ground in the area of "Santa Schools". I decided to write a book that would cover the spectrum of what we would run up against when starting out in this field of work that covers the first 3 years rather well. Actually I wanted to do an updated "Big Book of Santa" like Victor Nevada did up in Canada which he finished shortly before his death. I very nearly joined him by the time I finished the third volume of the Textbooks used in the school. (I think it may have something to do with writing a book over 575 pages or a set of same at 600 pages.) Well with the updated and expanded editions of the three volume set now out, (and available through Amazon and quality book vendors near you on the internet) I have brought that to the community while managing to avoid the dying part for now. The second way I have gone and done something very different is I took steps to make sure my school would last beyond my (then best medical advice and estimate) expiration date. That date is currently back in the "Unknown" box but the steps were taken and remain in place. Basically I franchised my school to others in vastly different areas across the US and Canada. No other school has tried this experiment and this is the first year of the franchise being offered. In simple terms I made an offer that the very qualified individuals I offered it to they simply could not refuse on financial terms. First year free! Yup the franchise in 2017 for those that take it get the ability to kick the tires and run the shop for free this year. After that, if they decide to continue the agreement, they then will have to make a franchise royalty payment on December 30 of each following year they decide to run the school again. They get the printing at cost for the textbooks used in their classes, and they have a proven curriculum they can follow. Oh, if you are interested in the details, I am currently looking for instructors in the UK, Australia, Europe and anywhere else that imports or uses the Character "Santa Claus". Sorry this is not a school on how to be "Father Christmas" or any other permutation of St. Nicholas. He is a distinctly different kind of portrayal and the focus of this school is on being "Santa" in the country of the origin of the character and those countries that currently import him. The concept of a Technical school teaching to a focused industry bringing information to the students from Professionals experienced in the field of study is nothing new. Nor is that concept restricted to the realm of performers. It is an interesting exercise in learning just how much experience on the part of the instructor teaching the class is involved. In several cases this issue is side stepped by the use of hiring or otherwise gaining the services of someone that does hold the required level of experience applicable to the study of the subject involved. That too has been going on for quite some time back in the southeast portion of the US and now on Video instruction. In Either case, as long as the students receive fair value and actually benefit from the information passed along, it is a good way to learn. The concept of a "Traveling" school is also nothing new. Consider the movie "The Music Man" and you see both the benefits and the possible pitfalls. Tim Connaghan's IUSC was avery innovative and surprising method of bringing a quality and quantity of information and education to our community Besides his and my own offering there are or were at least 4 other such schools that were in operation and or continue. Look for Susen Mesco to bring her teachings on the road in 2018. The single one thing that truly set SatBobS apart from all other school up until this year was the policy over the previous 4 years of operation no class booked was ever cancelled due to lack of attendance being the ONLY school that would teach classes of One (1). Sadly due to the shift of operation with the franchised Instructors, that particular part of the class operation has been removed for the current year. When starting the school I looked hard at what was currently offered back in 2014. One day workshops were to limiting in duration to cover the amount of material I wished to present and so I chose to bring out a 2 day class which eventually grew to include 16 hours of interactive lecture. The textbooks were a work in progress during this time and so the price of the class reflected that as well. LAst year I capped the price of the school at $250 per full student There is also a "Sponsored" student option where the sponsored student shares the textbook of the Sponsoring student. This has been popular with Married couples. Unless or until another Textbook becomes published that is where the price of the SatBobS School will remain for the foreseeable future. January of 2018 it is my (hopeful) intention to have each announce their schedule of classes and starting in February we would begin teaching classes at the rate of 1 class a month if there is a response from the market. Each instructor will be traveling in his or her territory so that will maintain the classification of "traveling" school but the volume of classes will increase from 9 a year when I was the only instructor to a maximum of 45 classes happening some where near your area during the February through October school season. As I said there are three textbooks included in the full tuition price. The first book, Santa And The Business Of Being Santa, focuses on the business end of things, covering things like what separates a hobbyist from a professional Santa, being a performer and a Santa, negotiating contracts, pricing your services, ethics, taxes, and a lot more. The second book in the series, The Nuts And Bolts Of Being Santa, talks about things like Santa schools, companies that hire Santas, costumes, beards and wigs, and the people and services that support us in doing this job . Book 3, Santa And The Performing Santa, is filled with great information including the lyrics to Christmas songs, magic tricks, props, Santa’s elves, story telling and a lot more. Over 85 different chapters that are included covering the industry we work in. So included in the tuition are the three textbooks, 16 hours of interactive lecture, a diploma, and 12 months of question answering "mentoring" for the one price. There are several other benefits attached to the school but suffice to say for the price, you will be hard pressed to find an offering equal to this school. Yes there are some schools that offer more at a higher price. There are also schools that offer less at a comperable price. You pays your money and takes your chances. May your Season be Joyous! Yours, Santa Gordon Bailey SatBoBs.com
  44. 2 points
    Slipping into the role of Santa Claus is something that most of here have learned to do, but as a novice Santa, I am finding that there is more complexity in the Business of Santa Claus than I predicted before I stared. I'm not just talking about the dollars and sense of what gear needs to be purchased, or how much is a fair rate for your time in the big chair or at an event. No, I'm speaking of the little things. Take Business Cards. You wouldn't think such a thing would be all that complicated. But when you get input from multiple people, all of whom have an opinion about the way the card should be laid out, which pictures to use, font size, etc., it slows the process down. Mrs Claus has one idea, and I have another. My mentor is offering an opinion as well, which I definitely pay attention to, but dang it, I can think for my self, and while I will accept advice from all, I am going to decide. I finally assembled the best first try and shot an order for 100 from Vista. If I decide they are right, I can make a reorder of 500 or 1000. If not, I'm out $20, and can try again. Guess I'll skip a trip to McDonalds. Another thing that came up is email. Yes, there is an email address that I created to receive email for the organization (both myself and Mrs. Claus). However, I had been communicating using my personal email account, as has Mrs. Claus, and our mentor insists that our email should have our pictures with the Santa wear. Maybe not such a great idea, since I use that account for other communications (e.g.: Work), and business folks don't see things quite the same way outside of Christmas. This is easily solved, of course, because there is nothing stopping you from having more than one email account. So now, I've got my Google account linked to three emails: meckardt@gmail.com, my normal email; Santa1MikeE@gmail.com for personal holiday email traffic; and MrsClausPlusSanta@gmail.com, for everything related to the business of being Santa. I've instructed my Mrs. Claus in who to do the same thing, with the last account being a shared business address we can both access. That account has a couples picture associated with it, and the two holiday accounts (will) have our appropriate festive attire. My original account remains the same, with my normal homely mug available for all to see. I'm sure that these aren't the last issues that I will have to deal with before I get through my first real Christmas season. But as the saying goes, anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
  45. 2 points
    Once again, another week has passed, and I progress toward being Santa. Over the last week, many of the items I ordered online have come in. Things like a Santa Claus makeup kit, various items to build costumes (faux fur, specialty needles, boot cuffs), and best of all, a message that my round eyeglasses have shipped. This last is great because I'll be able to see while having my professional photos taken (assuming the post office can get them here in less than 2 weeks). If they don't come in, I'll have to use costume glasses that I picked up, which don't do anything for my sight. What else have I been doing? I finally broke down and bought web space on WIX, and a domain name to go with it. MrsClausPlusSanta.com is now registered in my name, and the basic framework for the site is up, along with some material that I have been able to accumulate or appropriate from examples set by other Santa's. If you look at it at the time of this post, it doesn't look like much, since there are no pictures (except one selfie), and I haven't really worked on the text yet that much. After picture day, I should be able to start alleviating that lack, but I also need to work with my partner, (Merry) Lou. After I get pictures up, and the site in a more presentable state, I'll post the URL as part of my profile.
  46. 2 points
    The 2016 SatBobS School Tour GORDON BAILEY·TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2016 16 Reads Well another year of operation and another Textbook is added to the class. Why should you attend? You have the White Beard. You have the Belly. You have the $1500 custom made Red Suit. You have the $900 pair of Boots. You have the real leather Belt with the $450 Gold Plated Lazer Cut Brass “Santa” Buckle. You have the Bag. You knock on the door and belt out your best “Ho Ho HO! That will carry you for the first 5 minutes. Then what do you do? THAT is what the various Santa Schools try to teach you! How to pose for the picture. How to gain the attention of your audience and entertain them with Story telling, Songs and First Person anecdotes of the mischief the Elves get into and How Mrs Claus helps to keep things running smoothly up at the North Pole. Eye Contact. Vocal projection. Audience psychology. All of that and much more that is involved in being an independent contractor entertainer is what you learn from the SatBobS Santa School. What the SatBobS Santa school covers through lecture and books. In this third year of operation (getting the School up and running and on the road) I have been asked repeatedly this year for "more information" about the school. I will now try to answer that question for folks and in the process set up a kind of guideline for my presentation.The school is broken into 3 sections: 1.)The History of the Character we portray and the difference between St Nicholas vrs. Santa (2 very different Characters with vastly different backgrounds) 2.)The business side of being an "Independent Contractor Entertainer" and the related practical considerations in operating a business whether for profit or for Charity. 3.)Practical information on performance and appearance to further break it down I will list the topics of lecture by section, there is some overlap between sections as to topics though. Part of the topics covered: Section 1: Be Original (pg.1 bk.1) The Evolution of the Santa Image (pg.7 bk.1) The Export of Santa to Other Countries (pg.145 bk.1) Live Appearances of Santa in America-A timeline (pg.149 bk.1) The Changing Image and Traditions Surrounding Santa Claus as Opposed to St, Nicholas and "Old World Traditions" (pg.153 bk.1) How Traditions of The Old World and New World Applied to Santa Claus (pg.157 bk.1) A new Tradition (pg.21 bk.2) Alternate Names from around the world (pg.180 bk.3) Character Development and Role Playing (pg. 172 bk.3) Santa's Elves (pg,188 bk.3) Old World Companions and Other Creatures (pg.192 bk.3) NORAD Tracks Santa and his Sleigh (pg.201 bk.3) GLONASS Tracks Father Frost (pg.204 bk.3) Candy Canes (pg.205 bk.3) Thomas Nast (pg.167 bk.3) Section 2: Three Methods of Learning (pg.3 bk.1) What separates a "Hobby" Santa from a Professional Santa (pg.27 bk.1) Negotiations and the Business of being Santa (pg.35 bk.1) Pricing your Service (pg.41 bk.1) Outsourced HR/Placement Agencies and How they work (pg.47 bk.1)How your Behavior can affect your continued employment (pg.53 bk.1) Business and the Santa Experience (pg.59 bk.1) Experience Matters (pg.67 bk.1) What can a Santa do the rest of the Year (pg.71 bk.1) Insurance Sources (pg.77 bk.1 reprinted with expanded material pg.61 bk.2) Taxes and You the Santa (pg.89 bk.1/reprinted pg.56 bk.2) A few words about Agents/Agencies (pg.6 bk.2) A sampling of Work opportunities from 2014 (pg.9 bk.2) Santa Schools and Educational opportunities (pg.23 bk.2) Listings for Custom made Santa Suits (pg.32 bk.2) Listings for "Off the Rack" Suits (pg.35 bk.2) Reasons to Cultivate relationships with a "Brick and Mortar" store (pg.38 bk.2) The Myth of the Refundable Deposit (pg.41 bk.2) Credit Card capture devices and a Caution in their use (pg.43 bk.2) How Blogs and your Hobby can Help you Earn Money (pg.48 bk.2) Copyright Material (pg.52 bk.2) Pay to Play Contract example (pg.121 bk.3) Section 3: The Performing Santa by Robert Seutter/Santa True (pg.84 bk.2) Wigs and Beards by Marianne F. Coleman (pg.64 bk.2) Hair Bleaching advice by Barbara Tompkins (pg.80 bk.2) Santa Suit construction and Care by Krissi Peters (pg.81 bk.2) A Topic that No One Wants to Approach (pg.21 bk.1) Ethics-What are they and How They Apply to the Santa World (pg.81 bk.1) The Checklist (pg.97 bk.1) Magic and Santa (pg.103 bk.1) Profitable activities for Mrs. Claus and Elves (pg.109 bk.1) Make up and Santa Image Enhancement (pg.115 bk.1) What Can a Santa say to Children (pg.119 bk.1) Storytelling By Santa-An Introduction (pg.125 bk.1) Lyrics for Songs Used as Stories (pg.33 bk.3) Alternate Props for a Santa presentation (pg.160 bk,3) Santa and the use of Magic in a Visit (pg.104 bk.3) Making use of Visual Properties to Introduce and Illustrate Story Lines (pg.37 bk.3) I hope this helps answer some of the questions of what the SatBobS traveling Santa school is "about". Yours, Santa Gordon Bailey satbobs.com
  47. 2 points
    This past weekend my husband and I had the pleasure of being Santa and Mrs. Claus at Pick Wick once again. My husband has been Santa for them since they began Pick Wick in the park 10 years ago. We have always had such a wonderful time and have been so blessed to participate in this event. Jason (Savannah Santa) has always taken his job as Santa very seriously, always looking for ways to become better. To me he is the perfect Santa. Every year things have went along so smoothly, very busy, but an awesome way to spend the weekend. This year, however, there was an issue. There was a man and his wife staying at Pick Wick Inn, he was doing Santa elsewhere. On Saturday this couple checked out, but instead of leaving, he sat down in the lobby with his Santa hat on, while his wife went in the Holiday Mart and bought him a Santa Apron. He put the apron on and began being Santa, in the same area where my husband was. My husband being the wonderful, awesome Santa he is moved out of the area, because he was worried about the children. I am not sure who this man is, but he did a NO NO as a representative of the Santa brothers. Never, ever are you to do what he did. We attended a Santa class several years back and that was one thing we learned, never have 2 Santa's, portraying Santa where children can see both. I do not know if this gentleman is a member of Claus Net, but I am betting he is not. If he happens to be a member I hope he reads this and realizes what he did was wrong. Most of you who know my husband, know that he is a younger Santa than most and works so hard as a bearded red head, to prepare each season. His feelings were hurt and he second guessed himself and his look, due to the fact that the much older, already white haired man, had a real Santa look. I tried to reassure him that the children absolutely love him and many believe in him. So whoever this man might be, Shame on You for doing such an awful thing to the children and their Santa.
  48. 2 points
    I became Mrs. Claus in 2007 when I married my Savannah Santa (Jason Smith). I discovered the true meaning of being Mrs. Claus during our first event together. We appeared at an Auction house in Crump Tennessee, which was for those children that show the true meaning of Christmas. They didn't ask for the expensive gifts, they asked for coats, shoes, clothes, a home, but these items were not for themselves, but their family. I left there that night realizing why my sweet husband was so passionate about being Santa. Seven years have passed and his love for the season has rubbed off on me. This year I am more excited than ever. I quit my job this summer and am keeping our grandbabies, which gives me the ability to attend all the functions with my Santa. We went to the fabric store a couple nights ago and bought material to make Mrs. Claus skirts and Santa matching vests. We were like two kids in a candy store. During the off season my Santa teaches special education. Although he loves his job, I know that his dream is to become Santa all year long. I have found a company that has all natural health products and is on the way to becoming a multi-billion dollar company. I am now a distributor/owner. I control my own future and in turn the future of our dream. I take several of the products and they really work. Our dream will happen and we will be healthy when living it. If any Santa, Mrs. Claus or elf is interested trying the products or becoming a distributor, just let me know. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a world full of healthy Santa's, Mrs. Clauses, and elves? Plus, the income that can be made will allow you to do so much more for your Santa business. God Bless you all and I hope you have as wonderful a season as we are going to have.
  49. 2 points
    I often am asked about the various things I have to help me in portraying Santa Claus. Now, I do not dispute or go against the common believe that Santa is more than just "things." I do think, however, that the more I FEEL like Santa, the better my acting and portrayal will be in my outward performance. I have enjoyed adding quite a few custom items to my portrayal. Some items I have made myself, while other pieces I have worked with and commissioned individual craftsman and artists to create. Personally, with anything, I have a few questions that I like to ask when creating something to add to my portrayal. 1. What would I have liked to see as a child? This is pretty easy for me...as I'm just a GIANT kid at heart. I remember seeing Santa as a child and I remember being overwhelmed as my imagination was on overload watching films that featured our beloved St. Nick. I have always been one for details. It has been that way my entire life. So, while some children might look at Santa in his entirety...I was studying his buckles, what his buttons looked like, how his mustache was shaped; I love the details! I would encourage anyone portraying Santa to look at a picture of yourself in your suit...what would YOU think of this "Santa" from your younger perspective. 2. What would I like to see as an adult? Well, this question is just plain fun. We have such a great resource here on Clausnet. Here you can see a myriad of Santa professionals, some of the best of the best and see how they portray Santa. While I understand these are real individuals, for the moment, separate them from their Claus persona. Look at a particular "Santa" AS Santa. What do you see? What do you like? Is there something you do not like? Now, I'm not talking about judging our fellow Santas...just look at what might spark your own imagination. Again...we have such a wonderful opportunity to be together here and learn from each other. This also goes outside of just professional Santas...look at your favorite films that feature Santa too...favorite artwork, books, etc. I particularly love antique items like postcards from the Victorian era. 3. What is my style/Who is my Santa? From the contemporary to the traditional, the European to the American...there are SO many ways to look at Santa's style. If you are going to add "things" to your portrayal, you need to know who YOUR Santa is...what would he wear?, what would he like? I know it sounds odd...but if you are really going to portray Santa in any kind of convincing way, you must truly try to convince yourself...make him real in your mind, create who he is. Now, I'm not saying I believe I AM Santa...but when I portray him, I AM Santa, I try to forget for the moment who "Johnathan" is. Now What? If you have asked these questions and have a good idea of the direction you want to take...great! I personally want my "things" and my portrayal to be geared towards everyone. I want children to love Santa just as much as I want parents (adults) to. While most children will look at HOW you portray Santa much more than the adults. The adults will really start studying your details and look at things with a larger perspective as well as your personal interaction with those around you. They too were once children, many an adult has locked away in their memories and hearts the feelings they had as a child when they saw Santa. If you can unlock those...truly special experiences can happen for them too. Your acting and your heart are center stage with everyone. Sincerity is something very hard to fake...don't. We have such a great responsibility, if you don't love it...don't do it, please. Now, once I have gone through these steps, I'm ready to approach the "thing," whatever it might be. The particular item I have determined I want to use, and need to think about the style, need, use, etc. Here is where another interest comes into my portrayal in the form of a concept. I love movie props! I not only own quite a few screen used props, but I've gone to great lengths to create or commission replicas too. In the motion picture industry and prop community, we used the term "hero prop." When you have an item to be used on film, you typically have a few versions...especially for expensive props. The term "hero" comes from a prop that is used by the lead character (think of the hero in the film) and that can stand up to being filmed at very close distances without looking fake or seeing "the movie magic." You might have a particular item that is carried by background and extras, you might have your lead character using a sword from a distance, hitting this and that...but on a close up, you could have the "hero" sword, showing detail in every little way. Now, when viewing the film...they all look the same because you are too far away to see the details most of the time. So...back to Santa. I look at my Santa items as "hero props." If I were to have a film camera photograph or film my suit, my bag, a pen, a button, a book...I want it to look not only real, but aged if needed, and authentic. This looks this way not only from 20 feet away but I want them to read the same way on film at 2 inches. I also find it fun to add details that you are only going to see if you are holding the item and studying it. Why? Because that's what I love...I want it real in every way I possibly can. These things help me get into the character of Santa. They help me... but they are not me remember. I can take my suit and all that I have and place it on the next person that walks down the street, he will not be convincing, he will not be Santa. Portraying Santa has both the inward and the outward elements to it. I have loved learning and fine tuning both those elements and I'm still on a long road ahead. I am not done by any means in my portrayal. I know I can be better, I can know the character more, I can be better prepared for questions that come up, I have SO much to learn. There are also "things" that I will add...and I will do my best to have them fit MY Santa...and have great detail and fun in them. Hopefully this hasn't been too boring. Thank you for all YOU do. If you're reading this, chancing are you are working to be better...and that's just awesome. Reach your goals, make a difference, and have fun my friends. Santa Johnathan
  50. 2 points
    Next month will be something of a milestone for me -- 40 years. No, not my birthday (I wish). It was forty years ago that I first donned the Red Suit. At age 8, I was picked to be Santa Claus in our third grade Christmas Play. I don’t remember how or why I was chosen for the role. Maybe it was just fate. I don’t even remember the title of the play or any of my lines. I do remember singing “Santa Claus Is Comin To Town” and vaguely remember that I played “Kris Kringle” and that no one knew that I was “Santa Claus” until the end. What I remember most from that day was everything happening before and after the play. I remember my grandfather showing up to help me get ready. He was there to glue whiskers to my face. I remember how itchy they felt. Once the whiskers were securely fastened, he then proceeded to spray paint my head white. I still remember the smell and the white cloud floating in the air. My Santa Claus suit consisted of a red snow suit, a black ladies belt (probably my mom’s), and my cowboy boots. I wasn’t too surprised that Papa was there to help me get into character. After all, when I was 6-years old he took me to the Rhode Island State House on St. Patrick’s Day to present the Governor with a pot of gold (chocolates). He glued a different set of whiskers to my chin that day and instead of white hairspray it was grey. After the play, I remember Miss Hallburg, my third grade teacher telling me how well I did and how proud she was of me. I remember there were a lot of people at our third grade production. There were lots of people there; people from the newspaper, relatives, and neighbors; and Papa talked to every one of them! He was like a celebrity! Of course, back then I had no idea then of my grandfather’s local fame or his secret identity. To me he was just Papa. But to everyone else he was Santa Claus. Today there is a street named after him and a bench with his name on it. The bench resides next to the dock where he would sit most days and welcome everyone offloading from the Prudence Ferry. An oil painting of my grandfather hangs near the entrance of our Town Hall as if still greeting visitors. Looking back I wish I had an opportunity to talk to Papa about being Santa Claus. It was only when he passed that I took up the role as Santa Claus full time. I like to think he is with me at my appearance or at least watching.
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