At the End of the Road!
When is it time to Step Down?
I am now starting my seventeenth year of teaching School4Santas, twenty-first year of networking and meeting Santas, and 50th year of being a Santa.
In all I have enjoyed teaching and sharing with over 4000 Santas and Mrs. Claus. In addition, with my other work, I have met hundreds if not thousands of others who wear the red suit.
One of the things I have noticed in the past few, is more Santas using walkers and in some cases wheel chairs or electric scooters to get around. I have seen a few Santas in years past, but two years ago, with the DiscoverSanta convention, there seemed to be more.
And this has created a dilemma for me. I understand each Santa’s desire and love of being Santa and of bringing joy to children and others. But I am also concerned about them and what others might think.
Of the Santas I met in recent years, in scooters and walkers, I realized that although they had the look and spirit of Santa, they also had some serious physical limitations and I worried about them.
My biggest concern is knowing of their plans to continue to work as the real Santa! What will children think when they see Santa with a walker or confined to a wheel chair. And what will the parents think.
At first, I worried about their health and the many difficulties that they must encounter. My mother is in a walker and I also have many friends who due to their age or other situations have had to resort to medical aids to get around. I, myself, have arthritis, knee problems, rotator cuff damage to both shoulders.
That’s one of the problems we encounter as we get older, we find we have more limitations and we often see our friends encountering limitations, too!
When this new concern arose, I asked one of the Santas, “What do you tell the children when they ask about your wheel chair?” His reply was, “I tell them that on Christmas Eve the Magic of Christmas comes over me and miraculously I can walk, and go up and down chimneys, and do all of the work necessary to deliver the presents to you and children all over the world.”
Now I love the creativity of Santas who come up with clever answers to children’s questions. And I never like to tell a Santa that his story is wrong or out of place. But in this case, I must make a stand. And I do hope I am not offending anyone.
I think that when a Santa reaches the point of being physically limited to walking and getting around, he should seriously consider stepping down from being a “working” Santa. Oh, I am not saying that he should give up the look and the wonder of being Santa, but he needs to make some adjustments or changes.
Maybe he needs to tell the children something else. Why not explain that like many other people who get old that Father Time finally caught up with him. He can explain that he’s retired from delivering toys, and that his Son, or brother, or a New Santa has taken over. He can add that since St. Nicholas 17 centuries ago, there have been many Santas.
Why even some of the movies have had scenarios of Santa’s son taking over the family business. Or Santa’s Brother starts helping with the deliveries. Remember “Fred Claus?” Other scenarios have also had Santa’s wife and/or daughter help on Christmas Eve.
There are many Santas who quietly retire from the position of Santa. Once they no longer work at the mall or once some health situation invades their lives, they decide to put their red suit away.
But for those who would love to stay active, but now have limitations, wouldn’t it nice if they could still meet children and talk with them and encourage them to be good.
To help all Santas currently in this position and for those of us who may one day be in the same situation, I would like to propose the title of, “Santa Emeritus!”
As a Santa Emeritus, a Santa could easily explain a walker, wheel chair or electric scooter, and say that he has retired from the regular work of supervising the elves and delivering the toys and has now turned that over to a new Santa.
He could also say that his son is the new Santas, or that his Brother, ‘Fred’” is the new Santa, saying that the movie was about he and his brother. Children could easily relate to that as they had seen the movie.
What are your thoughts on this? Have you thought about what you would do when and if this situation becomes yours?
If you have any suggestions, ideas or questions, please feel free to contact me. Santa@NationalSanta.com