Tonight, I will be making my final appearance as Santa Claus for 2017. As I come to the end of my first year as a professional Santa Claus, I have been giving much thought about what my motivation to take up this calling is.
The reason is certainly not the money that can be made. While Mrs. Claus and I have earned a fair amount of dollars, it doesn’t really cover all of the expenses I incurred to get ready for the Season, and may not next year. It certainly didn’t last year, when I made one unpaid costumed appearance, and well as several informal “out of costume” appearances, all on my own time.
My motivation wasn’t really clear to me until recently. As we drifted into the holiday season, I purchased the usual Christmas gifts, including some for my wife. The gifts I purchased for her were fairly mundane items that I knew she would appreciate, but just things that I had seen. What relates to Santa Claus is that she kept asking me what I wanted for Christmas.
There are a lot of things that I want, but none of them are appropriate Christmas gifts. My desires for new electronic goodies (high end Computer, HF Ham rig, etc.) are more than I could reasonably expect someone to buy for me. The little things that would be appropriate for a gift… well, if I wanted it, I already had it. It was that kind of situation. My usual response was "I'm Santa Claus now. I give presents. I don't need to get presents."
We resolved the problem by going down to the local shopping area and hitting some of the stores… first Best Buy, and then Bed Bath and Beyond. We finally agreed to get a useful kitchen gadget which could then be wrapped as my “Christmas present”.
Last night, as I was falling asleep, the reason I enjoy being Santa occurred to me. As the Jolly Old Elf, I get to give gifts to people, and don’t need a gift in return. Sure, the physical gifts that I hand out at home appearances are provided by the parents who hired me, but the gift that I actually provide are the memories that I create for those families. If I can entertain with a song, a joke, or a story, I consider my efforts successful. When I bring joy to a child through interaction with Santa Claus, wonderful. That I provide myself as a prop for a parent to snap a photo of their child with is good too. (And you may be surprised at how many adults want a picture of themselves with Santa!) If I can make the children… and more importantly, the adults… understand that Christmas is about the happiness of giving to others, it will better help them come to understand the true meaning of Christmas.
Do I consider accepting payment for me efforts as Santa contrary to this spirit of giving? Not in the least. If I did not receive this remuneration, I wouldn’t be able to be the best Santa that I can be, and wouldn’t be able to maintain the role for long. As I feel my way into being Santa Claus, I have determined that I will continue to make the free appearances that first introduced me to the role, while charging the market rate where appropriate.
To bring the topic back around to Christmas, this is the time when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, son of God, gifted to us by God to forgive us of our sins. God is the Father that already has everything that He wants. There is nothing that we can provide to Him that He needs. God has given us what we need. If we could only learn to follow His example we would be better for it.