chelsea cookDoing the Santa Claus bit on Saturdays at “my” Salvation Army is very rewarding. I know you knew that but I just had to say it so I did. Being bombarded daily, hourly minute by minute with bad news, horrible news and impending destruction of our country could get a person down. We have entirely too many politicians yelling doom and destruction and not enough optimists. But... we have children who still believe there is something better and they will tell you about it if you ask them properly. Santa Claus can tease, giggle, make dumb jokes and, by listening carefully, find that most children’s wishes are simple. In the hours I have put in I only had one girl ask for something that was way over the top for her.
She wanted a pony. OK, that’s not too unreasonable for a little girl except she was 12-14 years old and knew better. She lives very near Main Street in Broken Arrow so livestock is out of the question. She knew all this and it was sad. However, she was happy, cheerful and made jokes so her Christmas is not ruined. But I have learned one thing since I have spent the past four years of December Saturdays sitting up from and watching people come in and out of the store.
Americans have really broad behinds. Before you say anything, it is very hard to miss. Santa is sitting in an easy chair which puts his eyes approximately at eye level as people walk past, turn to get a basket, stand and stare at the “Daily Specials” sign or just shuffle on down the aisle. It seems to me that people are bigger this year than any of the previous years. Maybe it is now because I haven’t had enough kids to keep so busy I wouldn’t notice. Or... it could be that Americans are just getting too large.
At first I blamed it on the Chinese for making clothes too small but then I reasoned that surely not everybody shopped at Wallyworld. Then, as I have been warned not to do, the people washed their clothes in water that was too hot and everything shrank. It didn’t take long to have that theory shot down after looking at the condition... nevermind. So Santa and I have been having a contest with ourselves when we remember to do it. We try to remember who had the broadest and what were they wearing. OK, so you may think it is rude but there are periods of time when there are no children and only broad adults come through the door.  
Santa also enjoys hearing the different languages spoken by customers as they scan the store after entering. I can recognize Spanish without a problem but the Oriental languages are way beyond my small knowledge. Also, it is difficult to understand Teenagese as it is usually spoken so rapidly it is indecipherable to most adults. Especially to adults who are older than those kids grandparents and no longer have day to day association with that age group. Santa almost lights up when he hears Okie-talk being spoken by a youngster. He knows that kid has good parents who are raising them correctly and none of this 21st century speech. It seems sad that kids from Oklahoma or Georgia sound almost exactly like kids from Los Angeles. What ever happened to “you’ns” or “yall” or “Hidy” or “yaeatyet” or just about any common expression? I know, I know, I am getting old but it is refreshing when I hear a youngster actually use a dialect from this socio-linguistic area. This all was not meant to be a complaint, just a sorta sad observation that some part of society is moving on without me. That and a big part of who we were is being lost.
Being Santa is not at all a chore or hard to do. The children that light up like the proverbial Christmas tree, the adults who (99%) smile and return the greetings with a pleasant “Merry Christmas” back and the few who tell Santa he is doing a good job. One lady stopped Santa as he was leaving and made him wait whilst she rumbled in her purse. She pulled a dollar out and stuck it in the candy cane basket and said it was for the candy canes. She didn’t want Santa (or the store) to have to pay for all of them so she made a contribution. That was very nice Santa thought and I agree.
I have been asked to be Santa at an elementary school and if the background check and red tape get finished in time I will gladly do that. In fact, to no one’s surprise, I am looking forward to it.