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The Meaning of Christmas

A revealing look through the eyes of Santa.

Published in The Herald, 15 December, 2007.

About three years ago, my wife inveigled me into letting my hair and beard grow, saying that I'd look like Santa Claus, wizened old cuss that I am. Well, I did and I do -- so much so that I now play Santa hereabouts, mostly at shopping malls.

Since Thanksgiving, while enthroned in my red suit, I have had people of every age and every sort hop up on old Santa's lap to tell of their fondest wishes. And not just Christians, either, but Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Wiccans, Pagans, Zorastrians, Native Americans, and many others who hold celebrations in December -- celebrations that include the giving of gifts.

With several years of looking like Santa under my belt, I can tell you that the Santa Claus thing goes way beyond the traditional year-end holidays -- it's a full-time, 24/7/52 phenomenon.

Even while tramping around the Evergreen State Fair in shorts, clogs and an open shirt, people have haled me to stop and chat. One time, a little more than a year ago, my wife and I were in a Nebraska truck stop when a long-haul trucker came up and told me what he wanted for Christmas. His wife was desperately ill and was going to the hospital the following week for a last-ditch effort at staving off her death and he wanted Santa to make it work. Gee.

Last week, a young woman of about 25 sat on my lap. What she wanted most for Christmas was to keep her little puppy -- her home was being foreclosed and she was being evicted.

This is how it's been going, year after year.

I've talked with other white-haired old gents who play Santa and the same kinds of things happen to them, too. So what's going on here? Personally, I think we humans have a deep and unanswered longing for someone to be supremely kind to us without asking for anything in return but the opportunity to do so. All of us, no matter what our faiths, have come to appreciate Santa because he is simply a nice guy. With Santa Claus, you don't have to hew to a creed, offer propitiation or jump through any hoops. All you have to do is ask Santa for what you want and this generous old soul and his elves will hop-to.

And there's more: Even if you've been a total blaggard throughout the year, you’ll at least get a lump of coal, and with that, you can help heat the house.

It seems that Santa is someone to whom everyone looks and whom everyone likes unreservedly. Since I have acquired this appearance, a little of that affection has been shown to me and for that I'm truly grateful. It's magic. For all the kindness and warmth you have shown me since I started looking like the Jolly Olde Elf: Thanks, everyone. And God bless.

Ho, Ho, Ho

Appearances

In Washington state, Santa Tom has appeared for Arthur & Assoc. at:

In Texas, Santa Tom has appeared at the Bass Pro Shop in Garland, TX.

Macy's.  Santa Tom has also modeled for the Macy’s Christmas Catalogue.

Private Festivities.  Santa Tom has appeared at private functions in the Seattle area.

Act Theater, Seattle.

Make-A-Wish Foundation, Seattle.

Private party, Issaquah.

Sevenoaks Mall,  Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada

A Childrens' Program of  "Twas the Night . . ."  Redmond, WA