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From the Publisher's Desk – Beginning to look a lot like Santa (Dec. 9, 2015 issue)

I think I missed my calling. It was too difficult just out of high school to have a clue what I would like to do for the rest of my life. I can’t even make up my mind on which head of lettuce is best at the grocery store. I pick each up, give them a slight squeeze, and look for one that is firm and heavy. After picking up nearly every head of lettuce in the display cooler, I begin to eliminate and put my favorites aside.
First I pick this one and then that one. Sometimes I go back through the top qualifying lettuce candidates. I have more guidelines than they use for the Miss America Pageant. So, how could I possibly make a quick decision on something as major as a lifetime career?
That head of lettuce, when brought home, will be thrown out before it ever gets used up. I can’t toss out a career that way.
I always enjoyed writing and the use of words, so here I am 30 plus years later. But, maybe it is time for a change.
I’ve decided my calling in life could be a professional Santa. Think about it. No dieting. The more I eat, the better the suit fits at the end of the year. There is no shaving required and getting gray is a plus. Usually Santa works one busy month and off the rest of the year. I would be loved by everyone and considered to be magical. I could legitimately break into homes and eat my fill of cookies and milk.
I did some research into the idea and found that there is training for those who wish to be professional. There are several renowned schools that offer the proper technique for transforming yourself into the great Santa himself.
The St. Nicholas Institute in Michigan claims they are “open to all Mrs. Clauses, St. Nicholases and/or Santa Clauses (traditionally bearded or theatrically bearded “St. Nicks”) from all Christian backgrounds (Eastern Orthodox Christians, Protestants, as well as Roman and Eastern Catholics).”
The institute claims its program “is uniquely designed for cross-training of individuals to effectively portray Santa Claus and St. Nicholas for a wide variety of venues (both secular and religious). Just as importantly, the program encourages a prayerful openness to the very same Spirit that animated the life and actions of the original ‘jolly old St. Nicholas,’ whose heart was made glad by the Babe born in Bethlehem.”
That pretty much covers it all, I can be Santa and feel that I am doing it as a religious calling. Somehow I never put the two together.
Maybe I was always destined to be a Santa and just never realized it was in me. I must say I was quite young when I stopped believing in the man. I wasn’t as bothered by my discovery as much as the fact that many of the adults in my family still seemed convinced of his existence. Was I going to have to break the news to them as well? It was too much for a young boy to handle.
My original discovery of Santa’s falsehood came as an initial harsh blow to me. Now I had to add him to the list of other imposters. The Easter bunny wasn’t real. The Tooth Fairy wasn’t real. Santa wasn’t real. Do these adults ever tell the truth or are they just completely naive to everything themselves?
Well, I have grown older and wiser and I think I would now make the best Santa ever. “No, Billy, you weren’t a good boy. No, Sally, you can’t have a new doll. Really, Betsy, that outfit is not becoming on you.” It’s time the truth was told. Who are these kids kidding? I have the “naughty” and “nice” list and I checked it twice.
The hardest part would be booking my schedules of this mall and that one, followed by the parades and parties. There would be lots of crying babies from waiting hours to see me. I would have my red Santa pants stained from multiple peeing children. After all, just the excitement of finally getting to see me would be overwhelming. My beard would be yanked throughout the day. My lips would crack from hours of smiling through thousands of photographs. My knees would break down from the many children and adults who insist on having a turn in Santa’s lap? My voice would eventually crack from hours of repetitious merriment. “Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!”
I still have a few unanswered questions before making this life changing decision to attend Santa School. Is Santa allowed to use public rest rooms at malls? Is Santa allowed to walk through the parking lot and get in a car? Are real reindeer ever involved? I am sure all of this will be covered during the extensive studies prior to being christened with the distinction of Santahood.
I see you when you’re sleeping. I know when you’re awake. I know if you’ve been bad or good. So, be good for goodness sake.
Santa is starting to sound a bit creepy to me. Maybe I should reconsider. I think he is a few leaves short of a firm head of lettuce. Besides, I never looked good in red.