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5:39 a.m. - 2003-10-20

YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO MAKE SANTA CRY

First off, I had a blast playing Santa on Saturday at our big wingding downtown.

It was so much fun on so many levels.

Naturally ... kids loved me.

Many of them just walked right up to me and hugged me. I can guarantee you, I got better hugs than most grandmothers could muster out of these kids. These kids KNOW who butters their bread at Christmas time. Grandma gets 'em pajamas. Santa brings 'em Playstations.

You're damned tootin' I'm gettin' big props from the kiddies.

It seems everywhere I went, people were wanting to hug me.

Check out this babe...

If I seem less than enthusiastic ... it's Wendigo for Pete's sake. Over the last ten years, I've probably hugged her at least a dozen times.

Plus, I was still kinda getting into the vibe of "being" Santa which is a whole lot tougher than you'd think at first. You're wanting to let out loud bursts of "Ho!Ho!Ho!" but you don't want to frighten the shit out of small kids and elderly people.

I have to admit ... I felt a little stupid at first.

Mainly because the lady who lent me the Santa Suit (which, by the way, was a cheap version of a real Santa suit ... check out the flimsy beard that doesn't have a single curl in it) told me that I had to "whiten" my eyebrows.

...With white shoe polish.

Which I applied without the use of a mirror.

So I looked like the newest member of the Insane Clown Posse.

Plus, I went a little overboard on the rouge on my rosy cheeks. I carried it over to my nose because Santa's supposed to have a big red nose. Oh, it was red alright. It looked like I had a third degree sunburn.

It was fun walking up to people I knew that didn't know it was me in the suit and calling them by name.

I walked up to one girl from my bar days and said "I remember you! You're the one that pissed on my milk and cookies in '79!"

Yep.

It took her aback alright.

So I walked around, trying to drum up excitement for the kids to come sit on my lap.

All total, we took 70 photos of kids on my lap which was pretty good.

All of them were little dolls.

But a few in particular really stood out.

There was the (I'm guessing here) autistic boy who was about eight years old. He couldn't talk and he was pretty scared of me.

His younger sister wasn't so scared and she finally pulled him over to me and made him sit on my lap. He grinned and shifted and grinned and drooled.

I gave him a big hug and thanked him for coming to see me. He gave me a big smile when I said that.

Maybe I might have been the one Santa that broke through to the kid and let him know that Santa isn't to be feared.

There was a beautiful little girl named Alyssa.

She was probably four years old and did NOT want to sit on my lap.

For over an hour, she sat on a bench a safe distance from me and watched all the other kids sit on my lap.

Every now and then I'd glance over at her and wave. She would hide behind her Daddy each time I waved.

Finally, her Daddy came over and said "She really wants to sit on your lap, but she's scared."

I said "Are there any television characters she likes?"

"She likes The Wiggles", he said.

Bingo.

Since there were no other kids around, I started singing Wiggles songs, which perked Alyssa's ears up.

She slowly walked over to me and stood there, listening to me sing.

I asked her if she wanted to sit on my knee and we'd talk about the Wiggles.

She cautiously climbed up on my knee.

I talked about the Wiggles and she admitted she liked Dorothy the Dinosaur and Captain Feathersword.

We got our picture taken with another camera.

I gave her a lollipop and told her to register for the gifts we were giving away.

Her daddy registered her for gifts and then she wanted to sit on my knee again.

Since there were no other kids, she sat on my knee again and we talked some more about the Wiggles and about what she wanted for Christmas.

We took another photo of us together.

A few minutes later, we started drawing for prizes.

Alyssa was right in front of me as I drew names out of the box and started giving away bicycles, Game Boys, Play Stations and more stuff.

The grand prize was a $100 gift certificate from Target.

And I drew Alyssa's name.

This little girl got so excited and beamed from ear to ear.

It really made us feel so good.


But the kid I'll remember most was a Girl Scout, about nine years old.

She climbed up on my knee and we talked for a bit and I got around to asking her what she wanted for Christmas.

She said she only wanted one thing and wanted to whisper it in my ear.

Oooooooookay.

She leaned into my ear and said "I need you to bring me a check so my Daddy can get his car fixed and can get a job."

Kids.

I LOST it.

I didn't know what to say.

I was expecting to hear "A Barbie dream house" or "one of those electric scooter things that George Bush keeps falling off of."

Not something like that.

I just said "I'll see what I can do" and she scurried away.

Luckily, there weren't any other kids waiting in line at that point and I could just sit there for a second and compose myself while counting my blessings.

Other than that reality kick to the gut, I really enjoyed being Santa for a few hours and am now entertaining the idea of getting a REAL nice Santa Suit and making myself available for Christmas parties and stuff.

Once I got into the swing of things, I apparently had quite the knack for relating to the kids.

There was just so much love in the air that it even made a cynical old bastard like myself get caught up in it and enjoy the moment.

Hell ... I hated taking the suit and beard off.

It was weird after I changed and had a ball cap, t-shirt and shorts and went walking around the place, seeing the kids who had been sitting on my lap for the last few hours.

I had to walk right past them like I didn't know them rather than keep carrying conversations with them.

That was strange.

But the joy involved was overwhelming.

Anybody else need a Santa?

I'm really good with kids.

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