Annually, Sinterklaas pays a visit to our berg, Santa Claus, too, each posing with kids from town and chatting with them as parents, grandparents, relatives and press click photo after photo.
The reactions of kids vary from the ones bolting for the door in sheer terror to the ones that would happily spend an hour with the good saint, comparing notes on what it’s like to be a kid and getting or not getting the longed-for gift or wishing that we all could just get along.
Observations on Sinterklaas, the Dutch saint, beloved by my small wanna-be-Dutch community, will wait for another time.
I’ve not experienced the mall Santa or the department-store Santa, but the small-town Santa’s got them beat, by a good stretch, I’m sure. Why, only today, while getting photos of kids for our local paper, I was struck by a number of things.
Santa and his wife are an actual couple. He’s on the city council. She’s a teacher. They know a majority of the kids that come down the short candy-cane lane for a conversation and a bag of candy, nuts and chocolate, packed by local Chamber of Commerce volunteers.
The legend of Santa knowing who is “naughty and nice” is mightily strengthened by the observations of this year’s Santa Claus, dressed to the nines in red and white, bewigged and bewhiskered by hurt-your-eyes white hair. He comments on one child’s recent performance in the school Christmas program. To another, who wishes for a new basketball, he observes that the lad could use a little practice (Ho! Ho! Ho!); he’s seen him drilling in the driveway. He did refrain from comment, though, when the lad who went a bit wild with a new BB gun the year before, stopped by. After all, that happened a while ago, water under the dam.
Santa’s wife, in the lulls between kids, helps me sort through the photos. “Isn’t digital wonderful?” She reminds Santa that he should be wearing his hat, removed earlier in a moment of irritation, and that he should pitch his voice lower to give it more gravitas. (Did I mention she’s a music teacher?)
Complain all you want about the commercialization of Christmas and the emphasis on getting gifts. What I see each year is a bunch of adults taking time to make the season special for kids, determined to help families of all types find another something to do together. It’s imperfect, sure, but there are jewels in Santa’s beard, too. And, they are easy to spot if I take the time to visit Santa’s workshop.