Being Ho-Ho-Ho-Man

@owlwings (38900)
Cambridge, England
December 15, 2016 3:29am CST
Today I have to attend a party of about 15 children. I need to don my beard, glasses and red cloak with hood so that I am no longer my ordinary self but the embodiment of 'the Spirit of Christmas', which is what is expected. I have to greet each child, ask them if they have been 'good' (they usually claim that they have been, whatever that means!) and what they are hoping for for Christmas. I try to avoid specifically saying that it is I who will bring the gifts, because some of them, at least, are aware of the real situation. After the greetings, I settle myself in a chair and wait until they have finished their tea. Then they gather round while I read them a story. It can be quite tricky to choose one which is suitable because the ages usually range from about 4 to 9 or even 10. I find that about five minutes is ample and a book with pictures which I can show as I tell the story is best. Finally, there is a sack of presents, wrapped and each with a name on, which I have to give out. There are suitable oohs and ahhs, of course and then parents very often want their children to stand by me whilst they take photos and the party comes to an end. It sounds fun and hardly difficult but I actually find it more challenging and stressful than sitting in the grotto and seeing children individually.
20 people like this
22 responses
@JolietJake (50087)
• United States
15 Dec 16
I was always good...although many times it was good at being bad
8 people like this
• United States
15 Dec 16
until Mary Lou Woo (or Woo Lou ?) changed your grinchy little heart?
5 people like this
@owlwings (38900)
• Cambridge, England
15 Dec 16
I often wonder (as I ask the question) what 'being good' really means. I sometimes tell the children that they should do the dishes without being asked, keep their bedrooms tidy and give their parents some peace - things like that. I get some funny looks from time to time!
1 person likes this
@JolietJake (50087)
• United States
15 Dec 16
@ScribbledAdNauseum Little Cindy Lou Who, who was no more than two?
1 person likes this
• United States
15 Dec 16
I only recently came to know about these "Grottos" that seem to be a big thing in the UK. Here we have mall santas, and in rural areas, santas that sit in tractor supply (a chain store). Telling Santa what we wanted for Christmas was a big thing growing up, but we were never given gifts by that Santa. In fact, going to see Santa seemed to be more of a reason to behave for the remainder of the month. Coal in our stocking was often threatened by our parents and grandparents. Photos are definitely taken with the Santa, and usually a candy cane given by "Santa's Little Helper." I think some malls have a little "house" as decoration, but every place I have seen or been to, has never had the santa sitting in the house awaiting children.
3 people like this
@owlwings (38900)
• Cambridge, England
15 Dec 16
It seems that it is mostly garden centres and some large stores which have grottos (perhaps because they have the space to do so). Some even have complex mechanised 'sleigh rides'. Usually, a fee is charged and a gift is given or can be selected. Sometimes the cost is quite high - I have seen £15 (about $20) charged for some. The one I do only charges £5 (about $8) and the gifts I have available are well worth that!
1 person likes this
• United States
15 Dec 16
$20 is quite the fee for something like that! I can't imagine the expense the individual locations incur, but I don't think I'd want to spend $20 for a picture, gift, and sleigh ride for children. Perhaps a bit of a cheapskate in that way, but $20.00 can add up fast, especially when the average family has three children.
1 person likes this
@owlwings (38900)
• Cambridge, England
15 Dec 16
@ScribbledAdNauseum Some of the 'Santa Experiences' also charge a (smaller) fee for any adults accompanying the children, which I think is deplorable.
1 person likes this
@averygirl72 (16670)
• Philippines
15 Dec 16
Wow, the kids have fun for sure. I want to play Santa girl giving gifts to kids
3 people like this
@owlwings (38900)
• Cambridge, England
15 Dec 16
According to tradition, you would have to be an Elf because Father Christmas can never be female (of course). There are traditions of female gift-givers but they are not so well known. In Italy, they have La Befana who flies on a broomstick on January 6th giving good children small gifts of candy and fruit (and coal, garlic and onions to the bad children!). The trouble with her is that she is never seen, any more than Father Christmas is supposed to be seen on Christmas Eve. In Russia, there is the story of Baboushka (= 'Grandmother'), who, like La Befana, was visited by the Three Kings but declined to go with them to find the Christ Child. When she later decided to follow them, she lost her way and has been searching ever since, giving gifts to children in the hope of finding Jesus.
1 person likes this
@Julie555 (2551)
15 Dec 16
@owlwings NiceIn Russia we also have Snegourochka,Father Christmas granddaughter(very pretty young girl) who helps his grandpa to carry gifts for children
1 person likes this
@averygirl72 (16670)
• Philippines
15 Dec 16
@Julie555 @owlwings Wow I learned a lot of Christmas tradition in different countries.
3 people like this
@much2say (38759)
• United States
15 Dec 16
Awwwww! I knew you had been Santa before - seeing the children individually like you said. But yes, I could see how that is completely different from being the party entertainment - it's not always pleasing a whole group of kids (an audience of believers and skeptics ). The wonderful thing is you will have made a lovely Christmas memory for these kids, and parents, for this year . . . Santa made it happen !
2 people like this
@TheSojourner (17479)
• United States
15 Dec 16
Do you have the natural white beard and hair or do you wear wigs/beards for the costume? Sounds magical, actually. Um...can I sit on your lap, Santa?
1 person likes this
@owlwings (38900)
• Cambridge, England
15 Dec 16
I have wished that my beard were either white enough or copious enough to do the job but, on reflection, I'm rather glad that it's not because it allows me to 'disappear' and not be recognised when I walk through the shop at the end of the day. You can only sit on my lap if you are under 4 feet tall and/or less than about four stone and a suitably responsible adult is present. The only exception I make to that is if you are over 90 and both of your parents are there!
3 people like this
• United States
15 Dec 16
@owlwings Dammit. I always knew Santa wasn't real.
2 people like this
@Julie555 (2551)
16 Dec 16
1 person likes this
• United States
15 Dec 16
I bet you really enjoy it, after all, it's for the kids and its only once a year
1 person likes this
@owlwings (38900)
• Cambridge, England
15 Dec 16
I do enjoy it, of course (otherwise I wouldn't do it), and people seem to think that I do it reasonably well, so that is encouraging!
1 person likes this
• United States
15 Dec 16
@owlwings Can you post a photo of the big day so we an all appreciate it!
1 person likes this
@owlwings (38900)
• Cambridge, England
15 Dec 16
@AbbyGreenhill I'm not sure that I should because it would involve other people's children. We always need to be careful about that.
1 person likes this
@MALUSE (38115)
• Germany
15 Dec 16
In our town families can hire a Father Christmas from the local police. They pay some money for the visit which then goes to charity.
1 person likes this
@owlwings (38900)
• Cambridge, England
15 Dec 16
That sounds an excellent idea! Is he stll called "Weihnachtsmann" or has he succumbed to the American trend of being called "Santa"?
1 person likes this
@MALUSE (38115)
• Germany
15 Dec 16
@owlwings I'm glad to say that we have no Santas. It's the Weihnachtsmann or - if he comes on December 6th - the Nikolaus.
1 person likes this
@owlwings (38900)
• Cambridge, England
15 Dec 16
@MALUSE I believe that we have the Dutch emigrés to the United States to blame for 'Santa Claus'. They took the tradition of Sinterklaas with them (but left Zwarte Piet behind, it seems) but he got mixed up and re-phantasised by a number of 19th Century writers, acquired some reindeer and was re-located to the North Pole. Coca-cola popularised his red, fur-trimmed cloak and, finally, some department store in the 1950's gave him Rudolf (the reindeer with the shiny nose). Having been so thoroughly secularised, there is a strong case for a return to the name 'Father Christmas'!
1 person likes this
@Inlemay (16490)
• South Africa
20 Dec 16
Be the Best Kringle you can BE!
1 person likes this
@owlwings (38900)
• Cambridge, England
20 Dec 16
Ah! Kris Kringle is yet another tradition (promulgated by Martin Luther) of the Christ Child as the gift-giver. Luther wanted to bring back the real meaning of Christmas, so he, apparently, introduced the rather delightful tradition of the 'Christkind' who undertakes many of the unseen functions that Father Christmas and the several other Christmas personages perform. The German tradition came to America with German settlers, of course, and, over time, got corrupted to 'Kris Kringle' and wrongly identified with Father Christmas/Santa Claus.
1 person likes this
• China
15 Dec 16
I guess all the kids not only hold you in awe, but think you are an affable old man after you don all the stuff.
1 person likes this
@owlwings (38900)
• Cambridge, England
15 Dec 16
Most of the kids are suitably awed (not all, though - I do get some fairly tricky questions like "Are you the real Santa? What about all the others?" and "How do you fit down the chimney?"). Being reasonably affable in real life (most of the time) does help, of course!
1 person likes this
• China
17 Dec 16
@owlwings At that moment,all kids tried to get a word in and wanted to asked you whatever questions about Santa that they had on their little brains,you even didn't know whom to listen to.Anyway they will have fond memories of their time with you.
1 person likes this
@jstory07 (65374)
• Roseburg, Oregon
15 Dec 16
So do you get paid for doing tht or is it all volunteered? I think that would be fun.
1 person likes this
@owlwings (38900)
• Cambridge, England
15 Dec 16
I do get paid, though many Father Christmases are volunteers.
2 people like this
@Julie555 (2551)
16 Dec 16
@owlwings I guess, You enjoy it.Then You are genuine one I always wished to have a photo with Santa My child`s dream
1 person likes this
@marlina (71348)
• Canada
15 Dec 16
Must be "hot" under that Santa's suit.
1 person likes this
@owlwings (38900)
• Cambridge, England
15 Dec 16
It can get quite warm!
1 person likes this
@nomus24g (21572)
• India
15 Dec 16
Why don't you also be the Ho-Ho-Ho Santa of myLotters
1 person likes this
@owlwings (38900)
• Cambridge, England
15 Dec 16
I'm happy to be the Ho-Ho-Howl
2 people like this
@stbrians (11790)
• Kakamega, Kenya
19 Dec 16
I have never met a santa claus in life but now I have. Enjoy your roles
1 person likes this
• Eugene, Oregon
16 Dec 16
That sounds like a great day for you and the kids.
1 person likes this
@mysdianait (64064)
• Italy
15 Dec 16
I think it is great that there are still people like you who continue the tradition and give this magic to children. I wonder for how many more years children will be able to believe that it all relly happens as so many younger parents seem happy once their children are no longer under the spell.
1 person likes this
@Corbin5 (100260)
• United States
15 Dec 16
You will be bringing such joy to so many. For the record, I have been very good and would like a Jaguar F-Type sports car for Christmas. Oh heck, haven't been that good, so a used Toyota will do. Thank you Santa.
1 person likes this
@rebelann (39006)
• El Paso, Texas
15 Dec 16
What a wonderful thing to do for children at Christmas. I do see your point, trying to please a group of children is much more difficult than pleasing the one on one.
1 person likes this
@Jessicalynnt (47790)
• Centralia, Missouri
15 Dec 16
sounds very schedule oriented and yeah, I can see it being more stressful
1 person likes this
@Drosophila (16729)
• Ireland
15 Dec 16
sounds like a hard day of work :D
1 person likes this
@LadyDuck (147987)
• Switzerland
15 Dec 16
You are going to spend a nice day, but also a stressful day. I can imagine the voices around you and the excitement when you give the gifts. Good luck as Father Christmas.
1 person likes this