Everyone wants to be Santa Claus.
Who wouldn’t want to work with toys, elves and reindeer? Who would not want to be beloved of children and adults alike?
Santa is universally recognized, perpetually jolly, well fed, and immensely popular.
Other men look on Santa with envy. He is the ultimate man’s man. He works with power tools, drives faster than anyone, and he gets all the girls.
Santa is so popular people cannot help dressing up like him for all kinds of public events. In Sweden they gather by the thousands dressed in beards and red suits – to jog. In Denmark an annual international convention of Santa portrayers gathers every year – and each one of them swears they are the “one and only” Santa Claus. And in cities around the world hundreds will gather during the holidays to crawl from pub to pub – dressed as the Big Guy.
The media eats this all up. They love to give us pictures of Santas gathered together. After all, Santa, no matter what he is doing, makes everyone smile.
Who cares if an image or a video shows a whole gaggle of Santa Clauses? What’s the harm in a herd of Kringles? The more the merrier, right?
There’s just one problem: the kids.
Whenever there is a public spectacle that features Santa in numbers the kids get confused.
“Wait a minute,” they write in, “what’s going on here?”
Santa of old was just one guy. History has added reindeer, elves and even multiple ways to track Santa on Christmas Eve but at the end of the day it has always been one dude in red coming down each chimney.
Announced today was yet another gathering of men and women wearing the red suit – this one in Branson, Missouri. More than 1000 of them will be there to “Discover Santa”.
These are professional Santas – the real Santas — the ones that take kids on their knee and hears Christmas wishes.
These Santas will hole up in a fancy resort for a couple of days to hold a convention. They will talk shop. They will take classes about sacred Santa traditions and sly Santa techniques in working with kids.
They will sing Christmas carols in July. They will celebrate the heritage of Santa portrayers. They will hand out awards.
And there will be a big parade right through town with 1000 plus dressed in their best suits with beards freshly trimmed and waxed, all giving white-gloved waves and smiles to the crowd — a crowd, by the way, that will be packed with children.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Well, there’s certainly nothing wrong with Santas getting together.
In fact, there is a fellowship among Santas that I really admire. They do tough work, work that sometimes has them facing difficult situations and long hours.
There is certainly a lot to be said for a Santa portrayer who invests time and money to hone his craft in the name of serving children and families better. If I were playing Santa I would want to know all the latest techniques and news that would make me a better Santa, too.
I love the historical celebration of Santa. The fact they identify the selfless givers among them is commendable.
But for all of this why, oh why, can’t the professional Santas of today remember just one little thing: their customers? Their customers are the kids!
No, it isn’t the kids that put what little jingle in their pockets that comes from being Santa. But the kids are the reason there is a Santa at all. Can’t Santas get together with these little ones in mind?
It’s July, guys.
Nobody in their right minds parades in long fur-trimmed sleeves in July – except for…uh…why are you doing this again?
I don’t want to spoil anyone’s fun. But can’t you guys just show up in short sleeves, sandals and shorts like millions of other men your age who go to summer gatherings?
Do you really need to put yourselves on television? Do you need to parade through town? Don’t you get enough love from all the other parades you are in?
I had this problem with you when my kids were little. Now I have this problem with my grandchildren. I shouldn’t have to explain why there are 1000 of you guys at a meeting.
Santa is awesome but he’s got secrets.
His North Pole compound has never been found. The reindeer games have never been on ESPN. There is no actual footage supplied by NORAD or anyone else of Santa’s Christmas flight.
Santa has never been caught. Santa comes in the dark of night, he delivers fast, and most often he gives anonymously.
How he gets around the world in a single night remains a scientific mystery.
He “knows when you are sleeping and he knows when you’re awake” – that’s powerful, legendary, and mystical stuff.
So do you really expect the kids at a resort or just in town there in Branson to understand Santa in multiplicity?
Surely there are better answers than a rehash of past Santa gathering mistakes.
You guys are a brotherhood – a united front of Christmas cheer dedicated to the public good.
That public good isn’t just valid at Christmas.
Take off the suit and go to your meetings as the secret Santas you are. And when you gather for the big picture please wear something to disguise your merrier identity.
Ok, you can say “Merry Christmas!” That’s cool even in July. But don’t let them see you sweat.