As promised I will not end this series on a somber note. After the last chapter’s sad stories, this one will be a collection of everything, some letters, some requests and some stories.
Some malls make a big deal out of Santa’s arrival. I have been brought by a horse driven high wagon, a fire truck, a float with the Salvation Army Band and a dog sled. Now that is one entrance I never want to repeat. When the mall told me I was coming in by dog sled I was stoked. I thought it was a great idea. The day of my arrival they take out back to meet the musher and the dogs. I am expecting a regular dog sled but with some small wheels on it since we had no snow yet. It was certainly cold enough for it but no snow. What I found was the musher putting the sled together. Literally the sled looked like something that had been put together from 2 bike frames, using the tires from the 2 bikes. They had 5 dogs ready to pull me. The musher told me not to get excited since these guys will go from 0 to 60 in a heart beat, just sit down and hold on. WHERE The sled was tubing with a board slung between the 4 wheels. There weren’t even any sides to hang onto. For those of you that are not familiar with sleds, the musher controls the dogs only by voice commands and that is in Eskimo. No sooner than I sit down the musher yells mush and the dogs take off and they did get to 60 in a heart beat, or at least it felt like that. The route for my trip takes us from the back of the mall, around the side and to the front entrance with just two right hand turns. We head down the back of the mall, and as we get to the side the musher yells the lead dog’s name and the command to turn right. Guess what, she doesn’t turn and we are headed to the street between the mall and Wal-Mart on the day after Thanksgiving. The musher jumps on the bicycle brakes and stops the dogs as they reach the sidewalk. Now the dogs and sled have to be turned around all while we are in traffic which is about as easy as turning a semi around in a narrow alley. Somehow the dogs get turned and pointed in the right direction when the musher tells them to go. I am wondering if this is such a good idea since we have to make another turn in a second which somehow we do and end up at the front door in a couple of seconds. I was certainly glad to be off the sled and headed to the doors. I am glad the kids are cheering since I can’t see them. My glasses are completely fogged over. This is a trip that I will never forget.
A memorable letter
I have talked about the magic wand letter earlier. This is a letter I got from the son of a co-worker. It speaks for it self.
Hows are you doing. I’m wondering why don’t you live in the south pole because South starts with S and so does Santa. Have you ever thought about moving to the south pole ……….Santa if your relationship with your wife is falling apart do what you do best or do something she wants.
Extending the belief
Parents will try to do everything that they can to extend the children’s belief in Santa and I am always up to try different things. Several years ago I was approached by a grandma who had working very hard to extend her granddaughters belief. She asked me to do a “visit”, not in my suit but just in street clothes. The thought was for the granddaughter to catch Santa checking up on her. The plan was to show up on their back porch one evening as they were getting ready for dinner. She would see Santa and surprise him and Santa would run off. Ok I can hear you saying creepy but it wasn’t. I got a list of the granddaughter’s friends and I came up with a form made to look like I was checking up and marking them naughty or nice. Her friends where marked as nice and the bogus names I added where naughty. So on the appointed night I went to their house and the back porch. As I got to the top stair, their dog saw me and went into barking over drive. I actually saw the dog’s hair stand on end. Well this got the girl’s attention and she saw me. I fainted surprise, drop the list and some candy and ran off. A couple of days later I checked with grandma about how it all went. It worked perfectly. In fact I had not checked one of her friend’s name and she rationalized it by saying of course Santa couldn’t have checked on Mary because Mary was at dance class all night on Tuesday. A few days before Christmas, she came to visit me at the mall. She bounced onto to my lap and said “I remember you, I saw you at my house.” Santa is always ready.
Sometimes Santa gets attention even when he is not trying. I remember going to my daughter’s college Christmas concert and sitting in the audience. It was just by chance the house lights had a spot that shined right on Santa. All the students on stage saw me and even the President saw me and did a double take when he came on stage.
I remember visits by grown children that had their picture taken to send back to their parents, the two sisters that got a picture of them kissing Santa or the mom that brings her grown daughter to see me and to continue the series of photos with Santa.
Then there are the pet nights. Usually the mall will organize a late night for people to bring in their pets for photos with Santa. They are a lot of fun and I have seen quite a collection of pets. Of course, most that come are dogs and cats but I have had a boa draped on my shoulders, ferrets on leashes that tried to go up my sleeves and parrots perched on me. The best looking pet picture was a pair of Great Danes that sat on either side of me looking like a pair of temple dogs. I even did a weekend at the local vet school where I entertained a guinea pig on my shoulder and had a picture with all of the family’s pet which included a couple of dogs, a cat and a miniature pony with their daughter. The animals were not a problem, they always looked when asked, it was the daughter that didn’t smile.
I remember the kids that would come over and over to see me. I would call them my frequent fliers. And the 10 year old that came just to talk. She spent almost a half hour sitting on the floor in front of me asking question and swapping stories. Or there was the mom who brought her young son to see me and brought me a present. It was a package of his nuks that he was trading in for a good Christmas present.
To finish a visit I always remind them to leave something good. If there were a couple of children, I would suggest something different. I would ask them if they liked peanut butter sandwiches. If they did, I would suggest that they help mom make a peanut butter sandwich and cut into 4 pieces where they each could have a piece and I would finish the sandwich when I came by. Then they could say that they shared a sandwich with Santa.
So there you have it, a collection of stories from Santa. I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed remembering them. If I have the time I will submit a series of blog type entries from this season.