Claus and Effect

Never let your head hang down. Never give up and sit down and grieve. Find another way.
And don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines.

37th President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon, was born on this day in 1913. (died 1994)

Don’t worry. This isn’t a political post.

I don’t write a lot on this blog about the wearing of the red suit. I save most of that for my Santa Mike RVA Facebook page and website.

Still, when you spend a quarter of the year being Santa Claus, and even longer preparing, it’s hard to separate the personalities.

I’ve been portraying Santa in some form or other for well over twenty years. Longer if you count the unofficial portrayals whilst assembling toys in the middle of the night.

The first time I was asked to be Santa, I have to admit I was a little offended. It was for a church production (not your typical pageant, but that’s another post). Sure, I’ve always been on the heavy side. But at that point in my life, I had no beard and my hair was still, mostly, brown.

That was also the year our second son was born. I’m sure there’s no direct connection to the pigment loss.

For the next few years I’d don the suit in a production or the occasional visit to a preschool.

Then somewhere around 2016, I had my first professional gig with PetsMart. Thankfully, they provided the suit. It was a fun two days holding lots of puppies and kittens. Turns out the bigger the dog, the more afraid of Santa they were. The guinea pigs were fun, and the ferrets were a riot.

Then the lady showed up with her snakes. Snakes.

Since that time, I’ve had a regular gig at Kings Dominion portraying Santa in Tinker’s Toy Factory, a fun stage show that runs nightly during Winterfest. I’ve been there five out of the last six seasons. We didn’t have the show during the “Two Weeks to Slow the Spread.”

I’ve also branched out to do personal visits, and I spent the pandemic year doing virtual visits which prompted one of my favorite authors, Sean Dietrich, to write about me in Santa in November.

Visits can be everything from hectic to boring. Heartwarming to heartbreaking.

This past season, I spent an afternoon in an adult daycare facilty with special needs adults.

True story: Santa was broken when one young man said that what he wanted was for God to take him back to when he was born so that he could take a different path.

What do you say to that?

There are lots of other questions…my mom is sick…my parents are getting a divorce…my dog died.

Santa just loves and hugs, and when appropriate, offers to pray.

Santa never promises. At least this Santa doesn’t. I just smile and say “We’ll see what we can do, but I’ll try to make sure you have a good Christmas.”

Always, requests for at pet must be deferred to the parental units.

Twenty, even ten years ago, I would have laughed if you had said I’d enjoy being Santa.

I not only enjoy it. I love it.

I even see it as a calling.

All those years in government and politics when I thought the arguing and the often brilliant commentary was making a difference.

Now, every November and December, I know that I am indeed making a difference. It may be a small one, but it’s a difference.

And when a child asks for world peace?

Ask them what color unicorn they’d like.

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