By Alan Viau
“There’s Santa,” a little girl exclaimed as I walked into the photo studio. Yes, I am Santa. For those few moments with the kids I symbolize a whole lot of myths. And it takes a lot more than Ho Ho Ho to win them over.
There is a popular quote on the four stages of life: Stage 1: you believe in Santa Claus. Stage 2: you don’t believe in Santa Claus. Stage 3: you ARE Santa Claus. Stage 4: you LOOK LIKE Santa Claus. I am privileged to have lived through each one and LOOKING LIKE Santa Claus is the best stage.
Along with all youngsters of a certain age, I grew up believing in Santa Claus. My logical scientific mind was at work even then. We didn’t have a fireplace, so how could Santa make his way through the oil furnace? I looked for the telltale signs of foot prints or hooves. Soon the reality that Santa was a story became apparent and I didn’t believe anymore.
The myth is so ingrained in our culture that it is hard to ignore, though. My belief was once again challenged when we started having kids. Every year, at the annual company Christmas party, my youngsters would take a picture with Santa. We have a wonderful collection of photos of the kids sitting with Santa for that brief moment.
Eventually, they began asking how Santa could make his way down the chimney since we had a gas furnace. My wife and I fancied a story about a Christmas Mouse that sat at the top of our tree. He magically opened the door for Santa every year. Today this ragged mouse is precious to all of us for bringing many happy Christmas mornings. It also reminds me of the time when we parents were Santa, making sure that each child received an appropriate gift.
Now I’ve moved on to the LOOKING LIKE Santa stage. With my grey beard, I get asked every year to be Santa for kids. If I can accommodate them I do. This year, I was Santa for a photographer friend at her studio. She invited her clients to have their kids pose with Santa for free.
Now you need to understand that I take my role as Santa very seriously. After all, I am the embodiment of a centuries-old myth of merriment and generosity. For me there is a reason Santa’s suit is red and white. Red because he is all heart and white because he is pure in intent. That is how I approach my role in the suit. I wait for the kids to be comfortable with me and I speak in soft tones. No big HO HO HO because it scares them. I love them all, am patient and they respond.
We captured some beautiful pictures of the children on a recent day. As one mom said, “Thank YOU so much for doing this! It was much better experience than a mall Santa for sure!” Mission accomplished.
Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night.