St. Nicholas is a real person, Bishop of Myra (modern day Turkey), born in the late 200s AD, attended the Council of Nicea in 325 AD, and died December 6, 343 AD. He is the patron saint of children of course, but also sailors and ships, prisoners, pawnbrokers and young women seeking marriage! The facts of his history, as well as the le
St. Nicholas is a real person, Bishop of Myra (modern day Turkey), born in the late 200s AD, attended the Council of Nicea in 325 AD, and died December 6, 343 AD. He is the patron saint of children of course, but also sailors and ships, prisoners, pawnbrokers and young women seeking marriage! The facts of his history, as well as the legends and the morphing into Santa Claus are well documented on the St. Nicolas Center website found in “Links”. Miracle-worker and generous gift-giver that he was, he was still a mortal, fallen human being, working hard to please his Lord, and a fit model for revealing the possibilities of Christian life.
David Lewis began his Santa career after walking his daughter to her wedding in May of 2011. He had grown out his beard as an experiment and asked her to tell him how she wanted it trimmed for her wedding ceremony. She told him not to cut it at all! Over the following year it lengthened and whitened and he began to get second glances from children he met on his usual errands. Finally one brave little soul approached him with: “I am STILL being good – do you remember me?” After stumbling through an answer, he looked at his wife and said: “It is time.”
After much prayer, David applied with Noerr Programs and began in November of 2012 as the Irving Mall Santa. Each year has been a learning experience and improvement over the previous but there is no doubt that he was “called by the children” as he has an excellent rapport with them. David has had 30 years’ experience mentoring children and young people in creative problem-solving and teamwork with Destination ImagiNation (previously Odyssey of the Mind). Now the question is: “Is he called by the Lord to be Santa?” In other words, can this be made into a ministry, blessing the children and honoring to Christ? God does not seem to allow certainty, but He does build confidence as we seek to found this career on Him.
Some of our dear Christian friends are rightly concerned with the secularization of Christmas, the emphasis on buying and getting, and fear that even an acknowledgment of Santa Claus will cause him to supplant Jesus in the hearts of children. Is there a way to portray the saint, along with the shepherds, the magi, and the throngs of all Christians, humbly worshiping at the feet of the King of Kings, Who was born in a manger? Can he model a warm, loving, understanding, compassionate, generous life in a harsh and sorrowful world? Can he hint at the wonderful mystery, joy and glory to come? This is the heart of David’s desire in his portrayal of Santa Claus: a humanly impossible ideal, sought by prayer, informed by the Holy Spirit.
So what does the Santa experience give the child? Some working theories:
1) Not every stranger is evil. We need to learn how to discern the intentions of others. We need to learn to trust wisely and begin by trusting our parents. A 2- or 3-year-old certainly has no discernment for trustworthiness outside their caregivers. Age 4 and up are beginners. We try to help each timorous child find a spark of bravery that can grow with each new experience into a lifelong courage to face and conquer their respective worlds. (Also called self-sufficiency.)
2) The true, good and beautiful still exist in the universe, if only in the heart of our imaginations. But even if it is only found there, that idea must have come from somewhere; something outside of us. We all yearn for Eden or Heaven. The Santa set can bring that yearning into consciousness. If the child realizes this, he or she can begin to look for it and eventually to try to create/model it.
3) The Christmas Spirit is an attitude supported by actions. The central ACT of the Christmas Spirit is generous giving. Here is where our intentions go awry, especially as we age and our motives get mixed. Most (really!) of our young visitors are more concerned with what others need than with what they want. At young ages, if their basic needs are met, they have often learned that happiness is not in things. Santa represents generous, anonymous, unexpected giving of himself: his pure love and attention, with no thought of a return. He hopes to teach and provide opportunities for the youngsters to become his joyous, generous helpers.
There is true Christmas magic and it resides in the child, not in Santa. Every single one of them is a visible miracle. Watch for it as they work through their reactions to encountering Santa!
Preparing for a Home Visit
To help you in making the most of Santa's visit, we have prepared the following list of suggestions. We are always happy to discuss ways in which we can enhance your event, so please don’t hesitate to contact us. Please email me with the Child’s name or Children's names, age(s), and special interests to prepare
Preparing for a Home Visit
To help you in making the most of Santa's visit, we have prepared the following list of suggestions. We are always happy to discuss ways in which we can enhance your event, so please don’t hesitate to contact us. Please email me with the Child’s name or Children's names, age(s), and special interests to prepare Santa for their visit. Check the calendar first to see if your date and time is available, then send a contact email!
HAVE YOUR CAMERA READY
Be sure to have all cameras, camcorders and batteries necessary to take the photos you want. Be sure your batteries are fresh. Consider where Santa will be seated for pictures and take some sample shots at the same time of day. Alter the lighting accordingly. Don't rely on flashes for the bulk of the lighting or red-eye is pretty much guaranteed. Also, make sure you know how to use your camera or camcorder since there is no worse time to learn than just after a once in a lifetime moment has passed!
CONSIDER SANTA'S ARRIVAL
Ideally, Santa's arrival should be out of view of your guests, especially doubting tweens and teens. Santa can reasonably explain why he's not driving a sleigh, but it's better to not have to. If Santa will need to fill his sack, privacy will be an even greater concern and someone should be tasked with helping him get your gifts into his bag. Also remember that Santa's hair and suit are quickly mussed by rain, so having a greeter with an umbrella is a good idea in wet weather. And the suit is quite warm, so unless you want a sweaty Santa, he needs to park close to your event. A helpful neighbor's garage can be ideal in wet or warm weather.
HAVE YOUR GIFTS READY IF YOU WISH TO HAVE SOMETHING FOR SANTA TO GIVE
Santa does not bring any candy or gifts with him. He will hand out your candy and/or gifts and can carry in one kitchen trash sized bag of small presents for children or guests. Candy canes are always appropriate, but so are small toys, plush animals, coloring/activity books, puzzles and readers, (Clothes and underwear are generally NOT appropriate!) Gifts should be labeled in a very legible handwriting, and if there are any challenging pronunciations they should be communicated to Santa before the event. Tags should be taped on well lest they fall off in Santa's sack. It might be a good idea to have a couple of extra presents on hand as well, in case of an unplanned extra guest.
HAVE A SPECIAL CHAIR FOR SANTA
Folding chairs, plastic chairs, and low chairs (the one's you sink into) are not good. Santa needs a chair that is sturdy and stable that will allow his thigh bone to be parallel to the floor, or the kids will slide. A good, sturdy straight-back dining chair with no arms works well. He should be able to sit comfortably with the chair supporting him plus a child on each knee.
PLACE THE CHAIR IN A HOLIDAY SETTING
Set the chair in front of a decorated wall or any festive type of backdrop, and your photos will have more impact. Place a wreath, a few Christmas cards or your children's drawings on the wall to make a wonderful difference. Leave a foot or two between the chair and the tree or wall. This will allow room for others to gather around and behind Santa's chair for group photos. Fireplaces do look nice but remember putting Santa too close to a real fire is not good for his comfort or health. For the best pictures, adjust overhead lighting and place table or floor lamps to adequately light the scene. Flashes should only be used to "fill" not to light the scene. Finally, having a clock in Santa's view can help him to pace his visit.
SANTA NEVER BREAKS FROM HIS CHARACTER
This is very important and something most adults do without thinking about the implications. Please don’t say things to Santa such as “Why you’re one of the best Santas I’ve ever seen”. Don’t ask questions about when he started playing Santa or where did he get his costumes. It’s very important that you treat me as Santa Claus and not as someone that plays Santa Claus.
Also, Santa is a wholesome, child-oriented character. Please instruct your guests to not compromise that image by having Santa hand out adult-only gifts, or behaving in a lewd manner either with or in the presence of Santa. If at anytime Santa feels such things are going unchecked he may cancel the remainder of the event. Please help keep the wonder of Christmas alive for your children and others.
Santa does not eat or drink anything other than a few sips of water during visits.
GATHER BEFORE SANTA ENTERS
Timing is everything. Santa's contracted time begins the minute he arrives. Minutes spent getting everyone together are part of your contracted time. Have the children already dressed, and hair fixed, for the photographs before Santa arrives. Not only is valuable time lost, but anxious children can be further stressed by the fussing in Santa's presence. Santa can phone or text when he is five minutes away from arriving. That's your cue to have someone go outside to meet Santa, and for you to get everyone together and maybe to sing Christmas Carols. If Santa is to bring in presents, the person meeting him can help him fill his bag. Then, at the right moment, Santa can pop in and join everyone in the singing.
Santa wants to give his full attention to each child. If you have a large group of children to see Santa, you should assign someone to be Santa's helper and coordinate the children as they each visit Santa. This helper can check for dirty hands, use sanitizing wipes if necessary, help with sorting and distributing gifts, and help to ease nerves and pose the children for photos. And Santa wants to include everyone. Yes, some teenagers will shy away or think it is too childish to have a photo with Santa. Don't worry; Santa can stand up for a "buddy" photo. What about grandma and grandpa? Take a photo with Santa and Grandma hugging. And, nothing is more fun than having Santa ask Grandpa if he's been a good boy.
CONCLUSION OF THE VISIT
Santa's visits last about 20-30 minutes, depending upon the number of children, but Santa cannot be an obvious clock-watcher, The host can help let Santa know when his time to depart is getting near. If there is a balance due to Santa, place it inside a Christmas card or envelope. It never looks appropriate when someone gives cash to Santa. So, as Santa is departing, hand him the envelope and say, "Thank you Santa, and here is a Christmas card from all of us" or "is it too late for my wish list?". I hope this list will help you to plan and execute your vision of the perfect private visit from Santa, and I sincerely thank you for enlisting me to help you realize that vision.
Princeton, Texas 75407, United States
Christmas is coming, and the geese are getting -- PRESENTS!