Though Santa and I have shared a similar physiques for quite a long time, this is the first year I’ve actually gotten to be Santa Clause. The opportunity came up only the day before an event at the local elementary school, and even though I’d never done this before, once I knew it was possible I knew I wanted to do it. I’m lucky the notice was relatively short, because after saying I would do it, I began to get nervous. Santa Claus is a big deal for kids. I knew the suit fit me, but would I be able to be Santa Claus?
Perhaps I should have spent some time researching how to be Santa Claus, but I had to work, and time was limited. Besides, I’d been a kid, seen all the Christmas specials on television, so I figured I could handle it.
Things went smoothly as I put on the costume, except that I was wearing white socks! I hadn’t considered the color of the socks then I put them on in the morning, but they showed a little between my shoes and the back boot tops that I wore on my calves. Luckily it was only a tiny bit of white, and my feet wouldn’t show in the pictures.
After getting the thumbs up from my wife, and some of the other school employees I headed towards my station in the gym. Kids spotted me right away, some smiling and waving with their eyes wide in wonder. Others slid behind their parents for protection. I don’t know when I made the decision, but though I tried a couple deep Ho-Ho-Ho’s, it didn’t feel quite right, so as I walked down the hall I would shake hands, and say Merry Christmas in something not far from my natural voice. I even got a few hugs before I made it to the chair where kids would be getting their picture taken and talking with Santa
But they weren’t just talking with Santa, they were talking to me! I was Santa! It was very exciting for me, and I don’t think I stopped smiling all night! Even though the fake beard hid my smile, I’m fairly certain you could see it in the roundness of my cheeks and the sparkle in my eyes.
After the first few kids, I fell into a rhythm. We’d take care of getting the pictures, so the parents could take a look at them while I talked with the children. I asked if they’d been good, told them to keep behaving, asked what they wanted for Christmas, and thanked them for visiting with me.
I don’t know if they believed I was Santa, but everyone treated me like Santa Claus! My own kids knew it was me, as did my nephew, and one of my Cub Scouts, but everyone else treated me like the real thing! Faces lit up when they saw me, some hugged me, and some little ones even cried, but they kept lining up to meet me.
I may never be lucky enough to have this experience again, but for that night, for just a few hours, I was Santa Claus. I got to experience the joy and magic of Christmas in a whole new way.