Do you remember, especially as a child, that wonderful, warm, fuzzy feeling you always had, and may still have during the Christmas Season? Why not extend that to year 'round?
I am a professional Santa and have been for more than 20 years. Somewhere in the last 10 years, I developed a much stronger attachment to this character. A few short years ago I learned there were others like me who similarly felt being Santa was much more than an acting job - it is a calling!
A few short years ago I stopped shaving on 12/26 as I usually did every year, and was very surprised about the changes in and about me. I really became Santa!
I want nothing more now than to tear down my lawyer shingle and be Santa 24/7 365. This coincided with reading Art Linkletter/Victor Mark Hanson's book, How to Make The Rest of Your Life the Best of Your Life. They believe the new prime of your life is now 60! Or perhaps it has become a 2nd prime. They propose you not retire, but find work that you can be passionate about. So I have!
Although I have been acting as Santa for many years, and enjoyed it, I began looking around and was surprised to learn there were many organizations of Santas. I found the majority of these overweight men, usually with back problems, probably with Type II diabetes, and perhaps a host of other heath issues, had a very common belief that what they did was a lot more than simply putting on a red suit for a month or so every year.
Since that revelation, I've discovered I have powers I didn't know I had. Before I was some fat guy walking down the street. Even when I don't wear my usual red attire, I now notice people smile a lot more at me! I hear little voices yelling gleefully, Santa! So I began experimenting and found I can sometimes stop a crying child in a grocery line, or stop a couple kiddos arguing just by waiving my finger, then giving them a wink and a smile. It is magical - just like when I was a child at Christmas time!
I discovered some of these Santa groups were bound together in strong fraternal groups that helped each other out by sharing stories, and tips on being a better Santa. We meet regularly, at what we at the Lone Star Santa group call Eatin' Meetins'. They were more than fun and we usually end up putting on a show for the kiddos in the restaurant! They didn't appear to be terribly concerned that there was more than one Santa as I have heard some older folks complain about. Perhaps they haven't yet learned to be cynical and disbelievers!
Last year about 600 of us met in Gatlinburg, TN at Celebrate Santa where we will apparently be meeting every year in mid March. There were many different workshops all designed to help make better Santas of us all. There was a lot of jolly old souls having the time of their lives and learning how others lived and worked as Santa. visit and learn more about this annual convention at: www.CelebrateSanta.com
A couple years before I found out there were several other groups of Santas who really reached out to help children in Hospices - bringing some cheer and joy to children who were patients or family of patients in a very trying time. Sometimes these Santas 'bring Christmas' to a child who may not likely see another Christmas. This kind of dedication to being Santa was truly remarkable and I decided this is something I want to do! You can read more about this wonderful group at: www.SantaAmerica.org
My goal now is to be Santa 24/7, 365 - and I am far from alone in this. Recently the Palm Tree Santas, or 'Sandies' as they call themselves), started what doubless will become an annual Christmas in July event in Tarpon Springs, FL. It sounded like a wonderful time was had by children of all ages! My own group, the Lone Star Santas, hopes to help bring a wonderful exhibit of the origins of Santa - St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra to the Houston area so people can learn just where Santa emanated from. See www.StNicholasCenter.org for more information.
Other groups from around the country are doing similar events to do what I wish to do - bring the Spirit of Christmas to everyone, year around!
People talk about how crass vendors have been, starting Christmas sales as early as Holloween. Too much commercialism they say. It is true, vendors depend on strong sales during the Christmas season to help make their year. We are all inundated with requests to give to many charities during the Christmas Season, because they know people are much more likely to give during this Season of Giving than any other time of the year! So what! Why not bring that Spirit of Christmas to the rest of the year? Why should we restrict that wonderful feeling to only for a couple short months.
There are many more Christmas' in July that ever before. I was invited to a Lutheran Church that apparently has one every year. Complete with a decorated tree and hall, those wonderful Christmas sweaters, (despite 90 degree weather outside), Christmas Carols, an exchange of presents, and an entire Christmas meal, complete with figgy pudding! They had a great time! Why shouldn't we do this? Why not share that feeling all year!
Do not be mistaken about how devoted Santa is to his religion, as he knows the real reason for the season! He is not an icon of commercialism but of a feeling of true, unabashed love for others. And if you do look up the origin at the St. Nicholas Center, this icon began a very long time ago with one man who gave to those in need, celebrating love for others.
I hope to share with you some of the many traditions of Christmas and solicit your own traditions as well. These will include from sometimes strange customs in other countries but all contain the Spirit of Christmas.
Your comments are welcome about this, the most wonderful time of the year!
"...making glad the heart of childhood."-NYSun 1897 -