20 Aug 2014
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Becoming Santa

Patch Editor James Warden got a shot at playing Santa during the Hopkins Activity Center’s Thanksgiving Celebration.

Becoming Santa Becoming Santa Becoming Santa Becoming Santa

I’m not a hugger. But Santa is.

I’m not someone who can make small talk with dozens of strangers. I’m not comfortable being the center of attention.

But Santa is.

So when Hopkins Activity Center Receptionist Sharon Nelson waved me into the gym, I chimed my bell and gave the crowd a hearty, “Ho-ho-ho! Merry Christmas!”

I’d been invited to be Santa for the Activity Center’s annual Thanksgiving Celebration on Tuesday. Apparently, it’s not that easy to find someone willing to play the part. Still, I was thrilled—if a little nervous. I even practiced my “ho-ho-ho” while my wife was at work.

There are a lot of niggling logistical details you don’t really think of until you’re the one in the velvet suit—things like what to wear underneath. Do I dress up so I’m respectable when enjoying the Thanksgiving meal afterward? Or do I go for comfort in what is sure to be a sweaty costume?

I settled on a dress shirt and business pants after a couple changes of clothes.

Sharon helped me into my Santa suit—coaching me on how to situate the beard and slip on the covers that are Santa’s boots. By the time I finally put on the red cap, I felt fully in character.

Handing out presents from the gift-wrapped shopping cart turned out to be as easy as the pumpkin pie the seniors had on their dessert plates. Later that day, the center’s assistant coordinator, Debbie Vold, told me she thinks everyone has a little bit of Santa in them.

After a short time in the suit, I’m convinced she’s correct. As I circulated among the tables, I joked with the guests and welcomed their hugs—and one kiss!—without reservation.

After all, I’m not a hugger.

But Santa is.


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