I had a very interesting experience a few days ago. For the first time in my life, I donned a red suit and hat, worked up a jolly demeanor, belted out a
“Ho Ho Ho” and played Santa Claus. As a favor to a friend I acted the part for her daycare’s Christmas program. It was truly an unforgettable experience. I gained a few insights that I would like to share:
1) Considering the fact that Santa is the guy who brings you presents on Christmas, he isn’t all that popular. A large percentage of children are afraid of him. You could say that’s good, because Santa is certainly a stranger, but the kids parents are right there encouraging them to talk. In fact most parents are unhappy that they can’t get a picture of their kid with Santa for memories, or Christmas Cards or whatever. Certainly, if I do this in the future I need to work on being more inviting.
2) Kids are smart. In fact some kids are just too smart. It becomes evident to children at a fairly young age that Santa is a little suspicious. Our commercial society has plastered him across every retail store and minimall in the country. How can Santa be at all these places at once? I had a quick scare with one child who had already seen one Santa this year. I asked what he wanted for Christmas and he said, “I already told you once!” Luckily, I had expected that this might happen and had an answer about how I see so many kids I couldn’t remember everything they said so I had to have the elves write it down. He seemed okay with that answer and proceeded on a long list of what he was expecting Christmas morning. Next time I’ll have to be prepared for possible questions of my identity.
3)The Christmas spirit evolves. Most of the kids I saw were under the age of 5. They didn’t question much. Mostly, I asked, they gave me and answer. everybody smiled (amusingly I found myself smiling at the camera, even though my mouth was completely concealed under my beard) there was a picture and next kid. There were a couple of girls there who were around 8. These girls were not so easy to convince. They asked me what my real name was. They asked about elves and reindeer. It seems they were armed with all the knowledge that a popular culture of books, music and movies has created. Apparently Santa Claus touches his nose, or winks to send himself down the chimney. When I asked how they obtained top-secret Santa information one told me, “books, movies, etc.” The other chimed in, “Yeah, dude, you have no privacy!” After surviving that round of questioning, I was feeling pretty good about my Santa chops. As the night wound down and the two girls were leaving one came up to me and whispered,”I know you not the real Santa Claus. You’re just one of his elves helping out.” She then left with her mother.
That last bit caught me off-guard. Like I said before, kids figure out that Santa can’t be everywhere. So this little girl’s mind had wrapped around a reality that could still make sense. Obviously I wasn’t really Santa, but I also wasn’t just some chump in a red suit. I actually found it inspiring that she still believed. The belief in Santa Claus is really a belief in the whole idea of Christmas itself.
In all, it was a really interesting experience. If I ever do it again I’m going to really have to do my research. Apparently, there is an International School of Santa Claus. Perhaps I should check into tuition and whether or not you can get a Pell Grant for that sort of thing. At any rate, as Independent Kansan closes out 2010, we would like to thank all of our readers. You’re the reason these musings and opinions are put up here. We hope you enjoy. Merry Christmas to you all.