By January 6, 2019 Read More →

What is Santa

What is Santa but a glimmer or shimmer of hope.

I don’t remember what my Santa origin was other than I was in Calgary I was plump and CP Rail and Husky Oil needed a Santa Claus.    This went on for a couple of years.    There was a long pause in Santa as I had a family moved to Toronto, then back to Calgary, then back to Toronto and finally Seattle.   In Calgary and Toronto, I took up musical theatre and opera, loved it.  I used to joke that it was my opportunity to wear makeup and tights.  

In Seattle when I was working at Microsoft, I had no time for anything but work and my attempts at family.    I started performing the national anthems at hockey games, namely the Seattle Thunderbirds.    Anthem singing has also continued in Calgary at SAIT for men’s and woman’s hockey and now in Regina where I sing for the Red Sox, baseball, Rams, football, and the Pats, hockey.  

When I returned to Calgary from Seattle, I started Santa again, partly to get my wife out of the house and partly because I needed it.    My wife is a brilliant Mrs. Claus and cuts my refusal rate of scared 16-month-old or 3 – 4-year-old to nearly zero.  

It sounds pathetic but its easier when your wearing the big red suit for people to talk to you.    Part of my Santa competitive advantage is I’m legally blind and can only really focus on the 1.5 feet surrounding my head.    This means that no matter who you are:  young or old, big or small, man or woman, however you identify, you have my total and complete attention.     My own children hated the “focus” as they called it, it’s ironic to me that all others love the attention and the focus.  The greatest gift we have as people isn’t a thing but our time.

I’m in my absolute glory I get to engage people directly in conversation.  In my day to day life as a blind person I can’t even see people and struggle continually with the subtleties of body language.   Being blind is profoundly lonely.    My current disparaging joke is I must wear a costume for people to talk to me.  

Another big part of my motivation for being Santa is I am a performer, I need to perform.   I sang in school choir and then in the philharmonic choir.  I was their youngest member at 17 and a natural bass.   The choir master amazed me, I used to keep time with touching my foot to the floor, during rehearsal he heard me doing it and called me out.    I currently have four albums in the studio.    More soon for sure, keep years ear open for singing Santa.

This is what I’ve learned after playing Santa for over 200 hours in 2018.

  • After 10 hours Santa stinks like an NHL hockey player, NASTY
  • Hydration is mandatory for life and the proper functioning of glue, I am experimenting with growing a real bird as I write this.   The glue and the lace beard are brutal.  
  • Despite what Kathryn aka Mrs Claus thinks you need two available Santa Suites.   Having a spare suit is mandatory just in case a dog or baby shares their bodily fluids.    I’m not sure I like being Santa for pets.   My colleague this year had a chicken.   The chicken had a Santa hat on as well. 
  • I’m finally tempted to grow a “real” beard.   When the technology that comprises your Hollywood grade glue stops working…   well panic. 
  • Little candy canes are near impossible to grasp with gloves on.   A lot of people want the traditional big ones.   What I’m going to do next year is provide a choice of Big, Medium and Small candy canes.  
  • A quick elf is necessary for unwilling children to get a picture.   Sometimes you get 30 milliseconds for a picture.  The parent plops and runs and man you’d better have captured the moment.
  • A crazy elf will generally quite even the most upset baby.   Sometimes the howler child is so distracted, amazed, or terrified at a dancing elf that the crying stops.  
  • Playing over 200hrs of Santa and working full time is crazy.   Next year more holidays to sleep and ensure my body is recovered.   Exercise is also a must to make sure I can perform at Santa’s best.     Sleeping or passing out in the chair is not cool. 
  • I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d be a COS player.   Who knew
  • A chair / throne sucks for Santa pictures, a bench where people can gather round is best.

Top Ten wishes:

  1. Christmas to be spent with family
  2. Parents to get off of the phone and spend time with them.
  3. Journals
  4. Video Games
  5. Pink 22’s.
  6. Nerf Guns and stuffies (Teddy Bears)
  7. LOL stuff
  8. Paw Patrol
  9. 2 year old boys always wanted a garbage truck, who knew.
  10. 2 year old girls always wanted a baby doll

My favorite wish was a 5 year old who claimed he was 82 and wanted a Ford F150.   I think the saddest was a girl who wanted her dad out of prison.   

Most amazing discussion was with a 6-year-old girl over coloring.   Apparently, Santa isn’t real, and she knew it as I was the 3rd Santa she’d seen.   I asked her what she thought Santa was about.   We agreed that it wasn’t about presents or even Santa or even Christmas.   But a mere moment of magic a moment where all is right and possible with the world.   

I am continually amazed at the impact of Santa.  I have never been quizzed on the names of the reindeer thank god, I don’t know them.   I have been asked Santa’s age, I’m going with 160 as I’ve just had a birthday.    A client asked if Santa and Mrs. Claus get it on in costume, frankly a gentleman doesn’t tell.   Performing with the Grinch was awesome would love to do more of that.   Even when the Grinch is hitting on Mrs. Claus.     Just for the record Santa is lactose intolerant to the point it puts Santa in the hospital.   So, beer or water will do fine, oh and Santa loves ginger snaps.   By the way Canada no edibles if you please Santa has a job to do.  

I have two favorite shows.   We do a low-income housing authority in Moose Jaw.   I cry every year at the end of the show as we’re leaving, we are swarmed with the kids who just want one last hug or to spend a few second more talking to Santa and Mrs. Claus.   The Easter Seals Camp in Bragg Creek where disabled adults from 18 to 80 spend Christmas is amazing.   Santa and Mrs. Claus totally pulled off the show this year.    We came in gave everyone a bell which they started ringing.   We sang two Christmas carols accompanied by the group with their bells.   We did pictures and gifts and candy canes.   The show finished with more carol singing.   I was told afterwards that this year’s Santa was way better than least years Santa by a mile.    I could only smile as I did both shows.   Mrs. Claus and I have a motto, “everybody is a rock star”.   Our shows having nothing to do with Santa and Mrs. Claus but everything to do with the people we are entertaining.

Santa is an amazing thing for me.   It reminds me of who I am personally.    Big Loud and Obnoxious according to an old love of mine, but seriously.   I live amazed by every person I encounter as they all have a story to tell and something to teach.   My challenge is to find it in the 30 seconds I get to talk to them.   Santa is me being true to myself, and what my grandpa taught me about people.    That and it is a magic instant in time where two people come together and spend 30 seconds focused only on each other.   Time and the Universe stop and for that instant anything is possible.   

…and I get to hold babies……

About the Author:

Kyle has ocular albinism and has been legally blind since birth. Kyle leads a very active live and is besides his professional career involved in many projects for persons who are different.

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