Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My First Santa Gig

I've never run into a bathroom more excited.

I locked the door behind me, hung the suit on the hook and just stared at it.

A plush red jacket with snowball-like trim, a wildly curly beard, and roomy read velvet pants.

I wasn't just looking over a Christmas outfit, I was about to transform myself into a rockstar: the one and only Santa Claus.

Now before you think my first Santa appearance was going to my head, I had plenty of stage fright. I was going to walk into a cafeteria just down the hall that was full of kids with lofty, and entrenched expectations.

I also had to live up to my grandfather's classic portrayal of Santa. He is the one I would be channeling for the next two hours.

I looked in the mirror as I suited up. My face went from a befuddled, "Will this suit fit?" to an excited "Holy (expletive) I really do look like Santa!" expression.

As I slid my boots over my shoes, and placed the cap on my head, I no longer saw the guy who is stressed out that business is slow, or is wondering how he's going to accomplish his to-do list before the family comes for Christmas. I saw Santa Claus . . . a jolly big guy who's purpose in life is to bring a smile to the face of one person at a time.

All I had to do was be myself.

As I strolled in to the Kemba Credit Union Christmas Party and belted out my grandfather's "Ho Ho Ho," I knew the toddlers and the adults were mine.

I swear I could hear "Sharp Dressed Man," by ZZ TOP playing on the boom box, but I think it was "Christmas in Hollis" by RUN-DMC.

But not everyone lit up when I walked in the room. The 'tweens who were just discovering the apathy they would later master as teens were not waiting there to hop on my knee and share their wishes and dreams. They had questions.

Their arms folded, eyes squinted and heads cocked when I sat down on my elevated throne. They looked like they were were about to impanel a grand jury.

"Is this the real Santa?" they thought. "Santa isn't for real, or is he?" they would wonder.
Anyway . . . I invited my share of tots and grandmas to sit on my lap. "So now's your chance, Brandon, why don't you tell Santa what you want for Christmas?"

"Uh . . . Uh . . ." he said.

"You came all the way here in this snow to tell me that?" I responded.

"Uh . . .Uh . . ."

"How about an 'Omnitrix' from Ben 10 or an iPod,?"

Brandon lit up, I looked at his mother for a little personal affirmation, instead she was feverishly giving me the choke sign. I probably reached with the iPod. Just because everyone wants one doesn't mean they are getting one.

"So you like Ben 10?" He shook his head timidly in agreement. Whew, we were back in the $20 range and Mom seemed happy again.

When I asked the same question to eight-year-old Jessica, she said, "I don't know, I want it to be a surprise."

I didn't expect that one!

Another toddler kept coming up and asking for a hug every 15 minutes or so.

I received two drawings from the kids, one that read 'Merry Christmas Santa, Love Jenny."
So it went for another two hours or so. Near the end of my visit, one of the 'tweens and her siblings gathered around me for a picture.

"So, what do you want for Christmas sweetheart?" I asked.

She didn't answer but she was thinking, "I don't know, what's on sale this week at Walmart?"

"How about one of the books in the Twilight series?" I countered. I have an 11 year-old daughter and the romantic vampire book and movie is her singular focus right now.

"You know about Twilight?" she asked excitedly. From there we made some small talk and she admitted she hasn't been good "all the time" this year.

"That's pretty difficult when you are constantly kicking your brother out of your room," I said.

"Exactly," she smiled.

She returned to the table and her family. And eventually I had to say that I'd be in trouble with Mrs. Claus if I didn't get back to the North Pole by noon.

As I returned to the bathroom and pulled off the suit, I reflected on what had been a great experience. People of all ages love Santa -- not just because he comes bearing gifts or represents the holidays. Everyone wants to be loved, and whether they want to admit it or not, they want to love others. It's instinctive for humans to care for and love others.

I was lucky to both give and receive this love last Saturday as an agent of Santa Claus.

My First Santa Gig from Mike Magan on Vimeo.


Amy said...

Looks like you might have found a new December gig. Need to flour those eyebrows, though. :)

Liz said...

My husband had the joyful experience of playing Santa for his company Xmas party several years ago. He had a blast! Since he knew the parents of the kids, he was able to really get some kids to believe in him- specifically 2 little 8ish year old boys who kept questioning him... until he mentioned their dads by name and the kids were amazed!

Anonymous said...

Great blog! I'm sure you made a great Santa...the REAL Santa I'm sure is grateful to have such a wonderful helper like you.

I do have one question though...you had "tots and GRANDMAS" sit on your lap?? hmmmm..! :)

Maribeth C (D) said...

Mike, I bet you wer a fantastic Santa!!! Hope you're doing well.