I have a Facebook buddy named Gay Lyons. Gay and I go way back. We went to kindergarten together and continued through grade school, junior high and high school at Arlington. After graduation I lost track of Gay for a very long time, but through social media we renewed our friendship. On Friday, I posted a picture of myself standing on the front porch of the Benton House during the 2015 Holiday Bazaar on my Facebook Timeline. I was dressed especially for the occasion. A number of my friends took notice of the picture and I got 112 likes and loves. I also got 36 comments which I appreciated. Gay’s touched me the most, however, because it really rang true. She posted “Who would of thought that when we were all going to P.S. #71 that ‘Most Likely to be the Most Convincing Santa Claus’ would be….you!”
Yes, I was in my Santa uniform. Red with white fur trim. Playing Kris Kringle fits me like a glove. Sometimes I forget: Am I Steve playing Santa or Santa playing Steve? Those of you who know me know that I love to play dress up. I love Halloween! Our house is filled with props — capes, canes, hats, swords, rubber body parts, and plastic skulls — the correct outfit and accessories for every occasion. All the world’s a stage and I love being an actor on it.
Being a Santa is different. Getting to be Santa and giving a bit of holiday joy is kind of a privilege and even an honor. Saturday, a lovely little girl came up to me, gave me a hug and said “I love you Santa!” My granddaughter, the Lady Bug, believes that I am Santa and her Papaw. The hugs and kisses that I got from the Warren special needs kids at their Christmas party filled my heart with joy last year. These are the reasons that I slip into the red suit and become St. Nick.
When I was ten years old, I was about as far away from being a Santa prospect as you can get. Skinny as a bean pole with short brown hair and a peach fuzzy face and about as jolly as a toothache. Yeah, he is gonna be a St. Nick alright…Ha, ha! Like most other kids I loved the presents under the tree from the jolly old elf. When some of my peers started to mock me for my belief and said “Look stupid there ain’t no Santy Claus.” I answered “Why do you say that? Don’t you like getting those North Pole presents that come from a reindeer sled. I AM GONNA BELIEVE IN SANTA UNTIL I’M 152!”
The first time I played Santa for real was during Christmas 1987. I was working at the East Washington Branch of the Indianapolis Public Library system. The community association was sponsoring a Christmas party for seniors that was to be held in the library’s basement assembly room. My supervisor informed me that she had volunteered me to play Santa. The suit was provided. I did have to wear a false white beard over my then dark brown one. Things went well and everyone, including me, had a good time. The next time the situation came up was during the summer of 1996. This time I was working at the Spades Park Branch. A kindergarten class had come for a storytelling session. I was working at the front desk when two little boys came up to me and one of them asked “Are you Santa Claus?” Mind you this was summer and I still was brown bearded so I was caught off-guard for a second, but I finally answered “I can’t tell you because it’s a secret!” This must have worked because they went back to their group and I saw them pointing at me and whispering in their friend’s ears. The look of wonder they gave me was priceless!
The Boss had been after me for years to be Santa, since my beard turned white. In 2015, my beautiful daughter and her family gave me a Santa suit with all the accessories for my birthday — sort of a Christmas in July thing. That got me on the road to actually being Mr. Claus. I am a Method Santa so I really have to become the character. It’s gives me more joy than I can ever say! I am so blessed that I am allowed to be Santa and bring some joy to some peoples lives. It’s a role I was born to play!
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