By Judy Berman
Anticipation and excitement are in the air as children wait for Santa to arrive. Did you ever wonder how St. Nick got into this gig?
It’s deeply personal and heartwarming for two Santa Clauses I’ve met. It’s a way to give back. For one, it was a chance to connect with his child and others.
Santas are everywhere – malls, street corners and on TV. On Christmas Eve, kids might keep their eyes on the skies or on the fireplace, hoping to spot that jolly old elf.
But, this month while in church in Melbourne, Florida, I was startled to see a man with a white beard. He was wearing red coveralls and a crisp white shirt. Right after services, I dashed over to chat with him. Naturally, the kids beat me to him.
I waited patiently while Lily, 5, and her brother J.J., 7, finished asking Santa about why his beard is curly and what his favorite vegetables were.
Who knew? Santa loves guacamole. Lily said she loved that, too.
After they left, I asked Santa why he does this. He became a Santa in 1983 at the Officers’ Wives Club when he was in the Air Force.
A young lady asked him to deliver a gift to her boyfriend. Then, the following week, that young man asked Santa to deliver a gift to her.
Right after Santa handed her the gift, her boyfriend came in, knelt down and proposed. Santa handed her the rings. Of course, she accepted.
“That was my first time as Santa. I was hooked,” he said with a twinkle in his eyes.
After a life-saving operation, his interest in being Santa intensified.
For Gerald M. Hoppe, a Santa’s helper I met years ago at Shoppingtown in DeWitt, New York, his interest led him to write a book for his son, Marc, who is disabled.
In “Santa’s First Helper,” (1987) Hoppe said he’s asked year after year by children who are “bewildered and curious” about all the Santas they see.
After all, they ask, shouldn’t Santa be working with his elves at the North Pole to get all the presents ready?
Hoppe “reveals the magical secret behind all of those Santa’s helpers that you see.”
His story involves an elf taking what he believed was Santa’s power so that he could “be the one to make the children happy at Christmastime.” The elf soon regretted his decision, apologized and made amends.
The Santa in Melbourne admits there is a certain power that comes along with the character he embodies.
One time, as he was about to board a flight before Thanksgiving, “a stewardess came up and asked what seat number I had. It was number seven.”
The stewardess apologized, wishing she was able to get him another seat. The problem? His seatmates would be two children who were already acting up.
“After I sat down, I turned to them and said: ‘Do you know who I am?’ ”
They didn’t. I said: “I’m Santa. If you don’t behave, I won’t give you anything for Christmas.”
Well, he chuckled, they became the best of buddies and were good the rest of the flight.
That was the best gift. But, he adds, the real gift of Christmas isn’t under the tree. It’s in your heart and in your faith. For Christians, it’s the celebration of “the birth of Christ.”
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanza and Happy Holidays.
COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Music Video: Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYIVYxZOWwo
Main Photo: Santa with Elves, by Norman Rockwell, Saturday Evening Post cover – 1922 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d0/1922-12-02-Saturday-Evening-Post-Norman-Rockwell-cover-Christmas-Santa-with-Elves-no-logo-400.jpg
Photo: Santa with Lily, 5, and her brother, J.J., 7, at Ascension Catholic Community church, Melbourne, Florida.
Photo: cover of “Santa’s First Helper” by Gerald M. Hoppe (1987)