These are some of the amazing memories I have of Santa. Some of these stories will make you laugh and some may make you cry. There is so much innocent in kids and they will say and do amazing things each year.
I just started doing some Santa gigs when I was asked to perform Santa for an organization that tries to benefit children with life threatening illnesses. The last minute request for my services came in at 2:30pm and they wanted my services in Tacoma at 3:45pm. So living in Redmond, Santa jumped into his sleigh and flew at a low altitude, around 70 m.p.h, to make it on time. Top speed in Santa's sleigh is only 80 m.p.h so the reindeer really got a workout. Santa arrived only slight late at the Church and peeked inside to view 150 children waiting to see him. Some had no hair due to Chemotherapy for cancer, others were confined to a wheelchair, and there were a few that looked like otherwise healthy children. But there was a major difference. This could be the last Christmas for most of these children. Santa came in ringing his four sets of bells while the kids were all singing "Jingle Bells". A HO, HO, HO was all it took for the kids to stop singing and turn around to see Santa. Before I knew what was happening I had 20 to 30 kids surrounding me. I couldn't even walk because the kids were grabbing my legs, clinging to my arms, and my big fat belly was getting hugged here and hugged there. There was designated spot on the stage for Santa to visit with the children. I managed to stagger up to the spot, children sticking like Velcro all around me. After completing "Jingle Bells", the kids gathered around Santa. They all wanted to tell me what they wanted from Santa; a doll, a video game, a race car set, etc. Not one complained about being sick. They were merely excited about life and the fact Santa was there with them. Soon the lights were dimmed and I handed out four candles to four children. We lit them and started singing "Oh Come All Ye Faithful". At this point I knelt down from the stage and touched a bald head boy and winked at the young boy. He looked up and gave me a great BIG smile. Before I knew it ALL 150 kids were coming toward the stage to be near Santa. I went from kid to kid touching heads, shaking hands, giving hugs. At that point I looked over to my right and a lady was bringing her son towards me in a wagon. He was lying down, too weak to sit up. I looked down as he reached me and his eyes were closed. Then suddenly he opened his eyes and reached up. We held hands for what seemed like an eternity. He had the biggest smile on his face. I had to continue on-going from child to child-just touching and smiling. When the song was finished it was time for Santa to leave. As I left, I was feeling depressed to have witnessed all that illness among so many innocent children. Then the vision of all the enormous smiles on so many, brought on a feeling of joy and comfort. Santa means so much to so many. It doesn't matter what race, religion, or gender. Christmas is a time to be joyous, to be thankful, and to be with family and friends. But most of all, it is a time for the kids, all KIDS!
Santa is Agile
So many companies are moving towards Agile, so I have tried to stay up on modern technology. I have seen because of my daily scrums, there is a higher focus on the customer, the KIDS! I have also seen my backlog being managed now by the elves. I have seen a 50% reduction in packaging; however everything isn't all better. I now have to do elfrasprectives. There is so much chimney of indecision and the 2 weeks sprints is not good for me or Mrs. Claus. I am used to end of the year deliverables. I am not used to delivering presents every 2 weeks. This is causing confusion to the kids as well.
MARIO KART 7
A young boy asked, "Santa for this year, I would like Mario Kart 7!” I thought to myself what happened to Mario Kart 3 or 4. We’re already at #7. I told the boy that I had just mastered Mario Kart 2. The boy then responded, “Santa, you won’t believe the new graphics on Mario Kart 7. It is way cooler than Mario Kart 2”
I usually come out, I tell the kids that “Santa is a BLACK BELT”. All the kids laugh. There is a secret to ripping a phone book in half. I come out with a phone book and rip it in half and then say “Do you believe that Santa is a Black Belt now?” This one boy stood up raising his hands and saying “I Believe, I believe, I believe now that Santa is a real black belt!”
Little boy – touch me and I will sue you
One of my favorite Santa appearances each year is for my Tae Kwon Do instructors. I received my black belt in 1992. Each year my instructors have a holiday party. This particular year they wanted to get some pictures of Santa throwing a fake punch and show one of the younger kids blocking it. A 7-year-old boy was picked to line up in front of me. I was going to throw a fake punch and he was going to block it. Right before we started, the little boy, as he was looking up to me said, “Touch me Santa, and I will sue YOU!” I was a little shocked. I responded back “You can’t sue Santa. HoHoHo!” The little boy then said, “Yes I can. My dad and my mom are both lawyers!”
Santa is the real black belt
As I mentioned before, I studied Tae Kwon Do. I usually ask the kids “Did you know that Santa is a Black Belt?” The kids usually laugh because I am wearing my black Santa belt. I then start to perform a kick here, or a punch there, followed by a couple moves, and then I hear the kids gasp and say “WOW! Santa really is a black belt!” They then call me Ninja Santa.
Little Girl – Lactose Intolerant
One of my favorite things about being Santa is what is shared with me as a kid sits on my lap and they stare into my eyes. I usually ask, “Are you going to leave me some milk and cookies?” The typical answer is YES! They might even ask what type of cookies I like. One little girl responded back with “Santa we went over this last year – don’t you remember? I am Lactose Intolerant!”
Failing into the freezing water – boat dock on the lake
Each year I attend new parties at different locations. One year, the house was on a lake. Typically, it is right above freezing during December in Washington. The couple wanted me to come up from the boathouse on the lake, to the main house. They thought it would be a good story to tell everyone, Santa drove his boat to get there. So, I went down to the boat and got dressed. I put on my makeup and Santa Suit right next to the water ski boat. I was a little cold, but got all ready. I performed my act and the plan was to go back to the boathouse, and change into my normal clothes. At least that was the plan. When I got back to the boathouse, it was a little darker than when I had left. I was having a tough time finding the lights. I was being very careful, being by water and it’s freezing outside. All of a sudden, I took a bad step and fell right into the lake with my full Santa suit on. I must have been in the lake a second before jumping out. I am, not, one who does the polar swims in January. I started to laugh so hard. I thought to myself “At least I fell in the lake after my Santa appearance, and not before!”
Little girl – Chap Stick
I was performing Santa at an ice skating rink. I was greeting all the kids and adults and saying "HoHoHo". All of the sudden, a mother came up to me and said, "No matter what, just remember Chap Stick!" I thought to myself that is such a weird request. I turned away for a second, and the woman was gone. I mingled with the crowd. Then a little girl tugged on my Santa suit. She asked, "Santa can I sit on your lap?" This is a normal request from the kids. However, what happened next was not so normal. The little girl proceeded to say, "Santa, I wrote you a letter and inside that letter I told you exactly what I want. If you cannot tell me exactly what I wrote in the letter, then you are a FAKE. I will tell everyone here that you are a fake and you're not the real Santa!" At that time, I remembered the woman coming up to me and saying, "No matter what, just remember Chap Stick". I looked at the little girl with a smile and said, “You want some Chap Stick!” The little girl screamed at the top her lungs, "MOM - THIS IS THE REAL SANTA. HE KNOWS I WANT CHAP STICK!” At that point, she hugged me so tight that she almost squeezed the breath out of me.
Staying current on toys
One of the hardest things to do as Santa is to keep current on all the toys. Every year the toys change. When I started, it was a plane, truck, or a doll. Now the kids want a video game, IPOD, Cell Phone (Yep a cell phone), or a DVD player. One kid asked if his parents could get a new car like his friend’s because they had a DVD player in the seats and they could watch movies.
That beard isn’t real
A little girl came up to me and looked at my beard. She said, “That isn’t a real beard!” I responded, “Yes it is a real beard”. She then said, “WOW! I have never seen a beard like that before. That is the biggest beard I have ever seen!”
Santa is all wet
The suit and the wig make it very warm to be Santa. There has been a couple occasions when a child will want to hug me and then say “Oh..Santa is all wet!”
Being Santa is Awesome
Throughout the years, I have heard so many kids say “Santa – thank you very much. I love you!” That alone makes it all worth it. The way the children look at you or want to hug you makes being Santa awesome.
Expect the unexpected
As Santa, you almost have to prepare for the unexpected. I carry spare boots, wigs, belts or whatever else because something will always go wrong right before you make your grand appearance. A couple of times by strap that holds the beard have broken right before I am to say HoHoHo. At times, you almost have to be MacGyver (old T.V. show) to make it all work out. You also have no idea what the kids will say or do. Some people ask how they could become Santa. I tell them expect the unexpected but to me that makes it fun.
Plan your exit
I always need plan my exit route from each engagement. The kids want to run after you so they can see you get into the sleigh. They want to meet the reindeers. They want to see hello to Rudolph. They want to see how big the sleigh is. If I am attending a new place that I have never been at before, I always need to see how I am going to make it out of there without 20 kids following me into my Ford 150 pickup truck.
Attached is a picture of Santa (me) and a girl at a Tae Kwon Do get together performing some moves. After this, the girl came up to me and we had the following conversation:
Girl: If you are the real Santa, you need to tell me what I got for my birthday
Santa: Well….Birthdays is not part of my department. I provide XMAS presents, but I think you got something Pink. (Notice in the picture several items are Pink that she is wearing)
Girl: You’re right – I did get something PINK for my birthday– You’re the real Santa!!
Management take-aways in this story:
· Having true RAA’s is important (Birthday’s not Santa’s department)
· Reading/Understanding customers’ requests and stating the obvious solution is important. (Girl dressed up in pink, might have gotten something Pink)
One of the biggest requests I get every year is for live animals, like Gerbils. I am not really sure how they would survive the cold, but even if they did, they would probably eat through the stockings.
One of the major hits with the kids is when Santa grabs a camera or a Smartphone and take a Santa Elfie of himself. The kids laugh so hard
Little Boy: Santa can you wrap?
Santa: Yes I can - I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast, we just like hot butter on our breakfast toast!
Little Boy: Santa can wrap - that is AWESOME
If you want to sell your house
A little girl asked me if I loved my house in the North Pole. I responded, yes very much. I have 750 rooms for the elves and I have 2 barns for the reindeers. I asked the little girl why she asked that question. She responded that her mom was a relator and she could sell my house if I ever wanted to move next to her house.
I am always being asked, what is my favorite sports team. I am happy to announce that I love the Seattle Seahawks. I watch almost of the games from the North Pole.
Little Boy Telling Santa a Santa Joke
A 5 year old boy sitting on my lap:
Boy: Santa, why do you have 3 gardens?
Santa: I don't know. Why do I have 3 gardens?
Boy: So you can Ho Ho Ho
We both laughed, but the little boy thought it was so fun telling Santa a Santa joke!
As part of every engagement, Santa takes the kids on a little Journey. I get the kids up and the have to follow along with over the mountains, under the bush, over a bush, climb a rope, swim, over a bridge. I then come in and deliver presents. So the sleigh is so much lighter that we start the entire trip back to North Pole but the return trip is so much faster. The kids have so much fun but it really tires Santa out.
Some of the events are ones I do every year. In some cases, the kids have seen me 5-6 times. Recently one of the kids who has seen me a couple times told her Dad, "Santa looks a lot younger this year. He must be eating better."