Monday, December 10, 2012

no more santa suits


As a little boy I wanted to dress up as Santa.  Once, my father even made me a Santa suit.  He fashioned a beard using a coat hanger, masking tape and white yarn.  I took a bag of candy over to playground and gave away candy.  There was one little black boy who grabbed the bag out of my hand and tried to run away with it.  Using my Santa voice I called after him, stating that the bag of candy would be his only Christmas, and he would only get a lump of coal come Christmas morning.  A few of his young friends were close to me and ran after him, telling him what I had said.  It wasn't long till the little boy came back with the bag and an apology.

The over all experience of playing Santa that day was relatively a enjoyable venture. I have only played Santa two times in my life.  The following story took place later in life when I was in my early twenties.

At the time I was working at this screen printing shop as a graphic designer.  It was a literal sweat shop where I made minimum wage creating original t-shirt designs.  I'd arrive in the morning and pull the To Do jobs clipboard off the wall and get to work until it was time to go.  What made the job so miserable is the heater that cured the ink for the shirts wasn't rigged with duct work to allow the heat to exit the building.  The heat blew directly out of the curer into my direction.  Winters were too toasty and Summers were shear misery.

Anyway, one day one of my employers arrived with a big brown grocery bag.  He told me to quit working, that he had a more important job for me to do.  He said that his wife (school teacher) needed me to dress up and play Santa for her class at Ragland Elementary.  The guy was a real piece of work, so I didn't just jump into it.  He commenced to pulling the red suit out of the bag and told me to put it on.  I politely turned him down, and then he ORDERED me to put it on.  I went back to my desk and started working.

He started getting really irate about it, and started to threaten me with my job.  At that moment my other boss came in and asked what was going on.  Tim told him that I wasn't complying to his demand and Darryl came to my defense and said it wasn't my job.  As it turned out, it was Tim's wife who had asked him to do the dirty Santa deed and Tim figured he'd get out of his job by making me do it.

I don't know why I ended up agreeing to it.  He had been quite the bully about it.  I should have just gone about my business and let a grumpy Santa stomp out the door that day. Darryl told Tim that if he'd asked me nice, then he'd have a better chance at me helping him out.  I guess that was it.  I don't mind being asked, but will dig deep if someone demands the favor.

So I donned the suit and Tim drove me down the road to Ragland.  The school had a lot of kids from lower income family.  Tim and I walked into the building and down a long hall.  We arrived at his wife's classroom door and knocked.  His wife came to the door, little kids were everywhere.  One of them caught a glimpse of me and the class quickly erupted with "IT'S SANTA!"  The teacher pulled up a chair for me and instructed the children to quieten down if they wanted Santa to come in and visit.

I took on the roll pretty easily.  One kid after another came to sit on my lap and told me what they wanted for Christmas.  Everything went fine until the last little pupil.  She had to be coaxed to come near.  I finally got her up on my knee and bounced her a few times.  She was a sweet little girl wearing tattered old clothes.  She had pretty blue eyes that shined from her dirty little face.  I asked her what she wanted for Christmas.  My question was answered only with another question.  She looked up at me and asked, "Why didn't you come to my house last Christmas?"

Santa looked at her speechless with tears welled in his eyes.  Santa wasn't expecting to meet a child who he'd forgotten.
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