By Christina Whiting
Editor’s note: The Homer Tribune caught up with Santa at his workshop on Sunday. The jolly old elf took a little time from his busy holiday schedule to answer a few questions.
There is magic in the air this time of year, thanks in great part to that laughing, chubby man with his white beard, mustache and shock of long, gray hair. Donning golden spectacles and a red suit, Santa Claus works hard to make children’s and adults’ wishes come true.
According to Santa, a typical day during the holiday season includes waking up before dawn, eating a hardy breakfast and then reading and answering children’s letters. Lunch is followed by a nap and then visits to his numerous workshops around the world, where he checks on his team of elves as they work around the clock building toys.
At day’s end, Santa and Mrs. Claus recount the day. Mrs. Claus plays a big role in Santa’s life, making his suit, mending it when he’s gained or lost weight, sewing, cleaning, making meals and baking cookies, she said.
In addition to his work at the North Pole and traveling the globe to make stops at his workshops, Santa also makes appearances at holiday parties and gatherings. In any given hour, on any given day, 30 children might sit on Santa’s lap. In the course of an entire Christmas season, Santa might hear holiday wishes from more than a billion children.
In Homer, Santa Claus has already been spotted greeting children, listening to Christmas wishes and handing out candy canes. While he visits with children all over the world, Santa said kids in Homer are special.
“Kids are stronger believers in Homer than kids in some other places,” he said. “Parents do a good job teaching values so the kids are open and relaxed with me. They’re not afraid to ask personal questions and hold my feet to the fire. They are unashamedly honest.”
Santa has been asked if he has teeth, how he delivers presents to a house that doesn’t have a chimney, if his beard is real, how he can be in so many places at the same time and how old is too old to believe in him.
“Five years ago, a young girl about eight years old, shared that she wasn’t sure if she should believe in me anymore. Her friends were telling her she was too old. I told her she had the choice to believe in me or not, but that if she decided to stop believing in me, she should know that there were some things in her life that would change dramatically, like losing the attachment to fantasy. There would no longer be tooth fairies and other things she believes in. That part of her life would disappear and it would be very difficult for her to enjoy the same feelings.”
If kids don’t believe in him, Santa is happy when they’re comfortable enough to sit on his lap and talk to him.
“I accept children the way they present themselves to me,” he said.
What kids ask for varies from year to year. He’s been asked for Barbie dolls, superheroes, and Tonka trucks, X boxes, tools, bikes, clothes, candy and the latest toys.
“For the last 6 to 7 years, kids have been asking for electronics, though every year, a few still request simple toys, like legos.
He’s also been asked to bring a father home from Afghanistan and to cure a mother’s cancer.
“In these cases, I tell them the most reasonably realistic thing that I can. If their dad is serving in the military, I tell them that their parent signed a contract with the U.S. government and that they have to live up to that contract. If their mom is sick, I tell them that I’m not a doctor or a person who can heal or effect medical cures. I encourage them to direct their questions to God and that by praying, their parents chances of survival is greater than if they left the job to me.”
Santa loves children and is interested in their lives beyond Christmas wishes.
“The conversations I have with kids and young adults are enlightening and engaging. They are often simple, yet informative to the child and me, and to those around us who are listening.”
While most kids are respectful and kind, Santa finds it challenging when kids do something mean, like pull on his beard.
“If they pull hard on my beard, I’ll tug on their hair a little bit, just to let them know what it feels like. This usually surprises them and they stop and never do it again.”
Santa has witnessed both beautiful and painful interactions between children and their caregivers.
“I’ve watched gentle parents soothe their child’s tears. I’ve also watched parents being incredibly rough with the kids, insisting that the kids sit on my lap. I’d like parents to know that if there child is not comfortable sitting on my lap, I’m not comfortable holding them. It’s not commendable to make your child bare up under those circumstances. Don’t make them sit with me, but instead, allow them to just watch. There is always next year.”
As for that naughty and nice list?
“I’m always watching kids. I have spies everywhere. And we watch the adults too; after all, they’re just big kids.”
These big kids make up less than 1% of the individual’s who sit on Santa’s lap. But for this 1%, Santa continues to be a viable part of their consciousness, bringing joy, hope and magic in to their lives.
“Santa embodies an innocence of hope,” Taz Tally said. “A hope for community and family.”
Adults like these see no need to analyze why they like Santa.
“There’s an innocence and joy,” Ola Mulliken shared.” Santa keeps the magic alive for lots of people.”
And they are not embarrassed about their enthusiasm for what Santa represents.
“One might think that there is nothing more magical than a child’s innocent yet ardent belief in Santa Claus,” Beth Kendrick shared. “But I beg to differ. There’s nothing more magical than becoming Santa Claus yourself, for your children and grandchildren. As a child, you’re focused on what Santa will bring you, but as the adult, the joy and excitement of giving is unmatched. Santa is alive and well and lives in the hearts of all of us.”
As for this writer, my inner child responds to Santa, and that’s good enough for me.
Meet your Neighbor shares the story of residents of Homer and the surrounding area. If you’d like to suggest someone for a story, contact Christina Whiting at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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