The Servant Santa on Parade

The Servant Santa on Parade

He looked so strange to me. It was the first time I had seen Santa wearing something other than his Santa suit. He was speaking before the Chamber of Commerce, one of those networking functions you always hate to go to. His comments were brief, conservative and frankly kind of bland. Here I was seeing Santa in the real world for the first time. I wasn’t convinced I was witnessing the same person. We met later at his office, a very casual almost messy kind of place. His desk was large but looked like it came from Ikea. A smallRead more

Walkabout with the Servant Santa

Walkabout with the Servant Santa

He won’t let me tell you his name. In fact, he doesn’t go by anything but Santa. Most Santa portrayers I have met like to be called Santa James or Santa Smith – some combination of their real first or last names or even the names of the places where they live. But not this Santa. In fact, it took me a week to even learn what his real name is. He invited me to come back the next day to talk. He was scheduled again to work the cottage in the evening hours but he was coming to townRead more

Discovering the Servant Santa

Discovering the Servant Santa

I was on my way home by way of country roads, having escaped the interstate on a busy Friday afternoon about a week before Christmas. As I came through the small pass on the two lane road I saw a vehicle coming from the other direction. As it was heading west I could see clearly inside the car – it was Santa Claus, driving a small pickup. I smiled to myself, rolled down the window and waved. Santa waved back. It was great Christmas moment, one that filled me with good cheer. Four days later I found myself driving thatRead more

My Private Christmas

My Private Christmas

The presents are all unwrapped. Santa’s stockings are emptied. Signs of yet another great Christmas celebration are everywhere. And my husband and children are asleep. The lights on the tree still shine and this is my time for my private Christmas. It is private because most don’t understand it. I didn’t understand it at first. Like everyone else I grew up with the traditions of Christmas. The mistletoe, the concerts, the decorations, the bustle of gifting and fixing foods and enjoying gatherings. Those things are still a part of it. But Christmas isn’t Christmas for me until my private Christmas.Read more

Bing’s Christmas TV Special of 1977

Bing’s Christmas TV Special of 1977

Bing Crosby was the face, the voice and the soul of Christmas for nearly 40 years. Through radio, movies and ground breaking television Crosby took Christmas to millions year after year. Already an established radio star in the 1930s Crosby broke out in movies in the 1940s and established the standard of all gold standards of Christmas with his recording of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas in 1942. Even movies not really intended to be Christmas movies starring Crosby became Christmas classics. Going My Way and The Bells of St. Mary’s showcased Bing’s acting talents as the golden-hearted Father O’Malley. InRead more

Christmas in Billings, Montana 1954

Christmas in Billings, Montana 1954

Early last week, James Carroll of Tyler, Texas, came to Billings for the second time in his life. It was an enjoyable visit, but it was hard to top that first one, on Christmas Eve 1954. Carroll was a 23-year-old Army private at the time, just out of basic training at Fort Bliss, Texas, on his way to Seattle on a troop train. From Seattle he shipped out to Alaska, where he would serve for the duration of his two-year enlistment. The train stopped in Colorado to pick up some more troops, bringing the number of soldiers to somewhere betweenRead more

Jimmy Stewart Talks About It’s a Wonderful Life

Jimmy Stewart Talks About It’s a Wonderful Life

It’s A Wonderful Life has reached such a point of saturation in American Christmas culture we can practically quote it line by line. But even still we cannot get enough of it. Even though Jimmy Stewart has been gone now for many years we can read of his memories and share in interviews he did about the film long after it was produced. In this clip, Mr. Stewart chats with Johnny Carson and we hear from Richard Dreyfus as well as Carol Burnett as they talk about the power of It’s A Wonderful Life: