Several local Santas are the real thing
I’ve always been careful about which Santa Claus my children can go see. You may think I am a highly controlling mother. I like to think that I am just very particular.My children have never been to see a Santa at a mall because when they were young, we had a Truckee Santa who in my mind was far superior. We would dress the kids up and go to a Christmas gathering where Santa would arrive mid-party in the most beautiful costume.He didn’t know every child, but he knew a lot of their parents. He never called the children the impersonal “little girl” or “little boy.” Instead he would ask the children as a group who was next. The children would sit at his feet and respond with “Leah!” or “Casey!” and the next named child would climb up on Santa’s lap where Santa would address them, “Now, Leah”One year this Santa asked his very own granddaughter Kelly if she had been helpful to her mother doing chores around the house. By being specific, Santa showed that he cared that Kelly was more than just a good girl.A few Saturdays ago it all starting coming together for me why I preferred this Santa to what I imagined Santas in a mall might be like.I was downtown doing some Christmas shopping with my younger daughter. She pulled me in the direction of Truckee Train & Toy. I knew that I had no shopping to do at that store with my daughter in tow, and so a little reluctantly I agreed that we could go over there, just to look. As we got near the store’s entrance, Santa came around the corner and greeted us, “Well, if it isn’t one of the Shaffer children!”My nine-year-old, who just this year has started to let us know that she doesn’t believe in Santa Claus anymore, had the biggest but slightly doubting eyes. Addie, my nine-year-old, was wearing her soccer sweatshirt with her name inscribed on the left-hand side. The next thing Santa said to her was, “Now Addie, have you been playing soccer this year?”Addie looked over at me, eyes wider than ever. I was not going to point out to her that her sweatshirt was giving Santa some tips. Then Santa said something about how he was enjoying reading her mother’s columns in the newspaper, and “Ho, ho, ho” and he hoped our family will have a Merry Christmas.As we walked through the store my daughter kept tugging on my sleeve saying, “Mom, who was that?”I couldn’t resist telling her, “THAT was Santa.””But Mom, really, who was it?”In my last ditch effort of being dishonest about whether Santa exists or not, and knowing full well she is very close to disbelieving, all I could muster was, “I don’t know honey, he seemed like the real Santa if ever there was one.”The truth was, this Santa at Truckee Train & Toy fit the bill for me. He happens to be someone I know around town. He is a guy who has sold my husband and me several woodstoves. With a twinkle in his eye and a caring manner, this Santa was wonderful and authentic.Just as I have been thinking about what makes a good Santa, my husband has been asked to dress up as Santa at the morning Christmas Eve service at our church next Sunday. He is another person who I think will make a fine Santa.This request comes at a time when I no longer feel I have to carefully monitor my children’s exposure to only certain Santas. It’s going to be okay for our kids to know that the Santa for the church preschoolers is their dad. I also feel as if I can justify why I’ve cared so deeply about which Santa Clauses my children have been exposed to over the years.It’s these special Truckee Santas, men who live in our community who have a ministry all their own. They care about and enjoy our local children. As a mother, I am grateful for what they have given to my kids.Katie Shaffer has lived in Truckee since 1981.
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