I read a blog this morning that reminded me of this story. Thank you Bokkie!
I was a Face Painter – when I say Face Painter I don’t mean Puddy from Seinfeld I mean I was really a FACE PAINTER. I say WAS because I don’t want Santa to call me and ask if I am interested in getting back into it. Dear Santa, NO THANK YOU! I know this does not make any sense to any of you but Santa, so I shall explain…
I grew up in one of those very lucky families where the mom worked magic and made Christmas sparkly and special. Every year, just before Christmas, our family would march around the city looking at lights, participating in special Christmas activities. We always saw the Teddy Bears at the Museum, looked at the Christmas windows at the Bay downtown, saw the Creche at City Hall. We would drive around the city at night singing Christmas Carols and looking at lights.
The best was the annual Christmas party. All of our family and friends would come to visit, laugh, sing and Santa came every year. I knew it was always my Grandpa, my sister did not. She was a Believer. It wasn’t as if I never believed, I did, but as I became older those beliefs change and morph into something else. The age gap between my sister and I is LARGE. I loved to help keep the illusion up for her. I knew who Santa was, but I sat on his knee anyway telling him how good I was that year, and he would reach into his sack and pull out a gift with my name on it. To: Edmonton Tourist Love: Santa. Written in my mom’s perfect script.
As we got older, cousins and friends moved away, the parties stopped. I missed them.
When the offspring muppets came along, and we moved into our new home, I decided I wanted to reestablish the Christmas Party Tradition. I walked around my block, knocked on doors of neighbors I did not know very well, and handed them an invitation. I invited people I did not know very well from the muppets school, and I extended the invitation to my family. It was a Family party, so there was food, special responsible drink, and Santa.
I asked each parent to bring a wrapped gift with their child’s name on it, about a $5 value, and leave it in a box hidden on the front porch. At 8:00, we heard Jingle Bells, Stomping on the porch and then the great loud “HO HO HO”! The children were enchanted! The older children were trying to puzzle out who Santa was. You could see them search the room, count the dads, look back at Santa with a quizzical look on their faces. They would never guess. I knew the REAL Santa because I was a Face Painter.
I use to Face Paint. Not the full face clown make-up. I specialized in cheek art. I drew unicorns, spiderman, puppies, you name it – I would draw it on your cheek. I had a booking agent who would slot me in great corporate venues, one for the highlight reel was The Edmonton Oilers Christmas Party. My booking agent also was an entertainer. He made/makes amazing balloon animals and hats. The big secret was, he was Santa Claus.
I would go to Christmas gigs, work for 2-4 hours, make obscene money, and come home. My children always asked who I saw. Every time I would say, Santa. He dressed liked the Coca Cola Santa, complete with the red coat to go OVER the red suit. Perfect! I would get phone calls from him to book my time, and my kids always ask who was on the phone, “Santa” I would reply. I would make arrangements for Santa to come to our home. He would always negotiate a plate of food and tin of homemade cookies. The food would be left in the box on the porch.
Santa would come and go every year. The same Santa, we have pictures to prove it. As the muppets grew older, they became more skeptical. One year we were at the Telus World of Science taking in the Christmas Lego exhibit when Chatterbox saw Santa. She knew there were fake Santas out there, but she maintained – just like my sister did years before – that SHE knew the REAL Santa. We walked up to Santa, and Santa KNEW my name. If there was a prouder moment in her life up until then, I was unaware of it. Let the bragging begin! Chatterbox’s mom KNEW the REAL Santa, so take THAT your stupid non believers. She had proof. Santa looked at my children, and thanked them for the art work they had made the previous year. It hung on his fridge and he described it back to them as proof. I had believers for a few more years because of that encounter. Thank you Santa.
Every now and then I get a phone call from Santa just to see how I am doing. When I hang up my kids say “who was on the phone?” I still answer “Santa”.