The triple Ho. People go to Santa Claus schools to learn to be good Santas. I just learned this today. I would have never guessed such a thing, because truthfully? Most Santas I’ve encountered in my years are immediately noticeable fakes.
But it is true. Santa Schools are all over the place. The “Harvard” of them is located in Michigan. It is the The Charles W. Howard Santa School in Midland, Michigan.
The guy who founded it, that Charles W. Howard, first played Santa Claus in a school play. That was during his fourth grade year. It must have stuck with him. When he grew up, he kept on with the gig of playing Santa. He was Saint Nicholas at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade for nearly two decades, between 1948 and 1965. He was also the “Santa consultant” for the film Miracle on 34th Street, shot in 1947.
Somewhere along the lines, he decided to teach others the craft, and so, he started the school. This year’s class marked the school’s 81st year. Each year, they pull in about 200 Santas, and some Mrs. Clauses, too. Not everybody who applies gets accepted. There is a waiting list to be a good Santa.
Again, I am just surprised as can be. They learn how to Ho, Ho, Ho, and such. They take field trips to the mega-stores and get to know the toys. Beard grooming tips, and on. The Santa Way.
I’m not knocking it, in any way. I’d just like to meet some of the graduates and give them the sniff test. I’m a pretty tough customer when it comes to Santa. If you are going to imitate the Big Guy, you’d better have your beard on straight.
The whole Santa thing kind of gets my goat, to be honest with you. I think it is a shame that we do this to our kids. We have created a masterful scenario, where we teach them to believe in the most wonderful, incredible kind of magic possible. We tell them to believe, with all their hearts in this team of people, who, in some far away place, work 364 days of the year, in the spirit of giving. They are headed up by the dude with the belly that shakes like a bowl full of jelly, of course. They work tirelessly, because they have taken the time to listen to the needs and wants of all the children all over the world. They hammer, and paint, and tinker, and fix — building the things to fulfill all those dreams.
Then, comes the big night. We know this one from experience. That wholesome guy loads up all those gifts and makes a grand journey to the ends of the earth and back again, carried on the wings of his beautiful reindeer. A piece of magic in itself.
We tell this story to our children over and over again. We dangle it over their heads sometimes. You better be good. Santa is watching.
And then at some point, we sit them down. Or someone does it for us. And we tell them it is all a lie. The magic. The wonder. The entire spectacular marvel. False. All of it bought with crumpled up cash. The toys came from aisle 12 of the K-mart. And that guy at the department store? The one who’s lap you sat on? That’s just big Joe Riley from the Hardware Store.
Yes, it all bothers me. Not so much the story of the Santa. But the part about teaching our kids to believe in the wonder of Magic, and then turning around and telling them its a lie.
Because it isn’t a lie. The magic is alive and well, and busting out all over the place. But it gets covered up by adults — the kids who were told otherwise — that it was all silly, and childish, and false. That’s where we go wrong. We quit believing in the magic. Yet. It is right here, if we look. All we have do do is ask for it, and accept it.
In each day, there’s some of that good magic happening right before our very eyes. It is right before us when we look, and see.
“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
― W.B. Yeats
“Believe something and the Universe is on its way to being changed. Because you’ve changed, by believing. Once you’ve changed, other things start to follow. Isn’t that the way it works?”
― Diane Duane, So You Want to Be a Wizard
“Books are magical keys to open up worlds and change perspectives.”