The Face Painter

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”.

22 thoughts on “The Face Painter

  1. I adored looking at Christmas lights as I grew up. Your holiday party sounds wonderful…perhaps I’ll hop on a flight, attend said party, and meet Genetic Offspring. I’ll even make a good first impression with a gift of pizza and cookies!

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    I’d forgotten about that special meeting we had with Santa that day. It still moves me.

  3. WOW! You have no idea how good that made me feel. I have a grin on my face and a lump in my throat that will last for days. I was actually at the Telus World of Science at a party a couple of hours ago, and was thinking of you. And yes, I still have the pictures on my fridge. HO HO HO. Santa loves you.

    1. There you go people! Proof I know Santa!
      Awww Santa, we love you too! I was telling stories the other day about the gong shows we use to do south of Edmonton, where we all piled into the clown car and barely come out alive! It is way more fun talking about it then living it hahaha.
      Merry Christmas Santa!

      1. Funny how we miss the bizarre times just as much as the good-feelings times. I guess that’s what gives life flavor. I’m going to another party in a couple of hours. Thank you for helping me into the right space.

        1. No one really knows how we end up impacting others until we are told. I like to think about the possibilities every now and then. Go out and spread the spirit of Christmas Santa! Say hi to your Face Painters for me πŸ™‚

    1. Hmmm, good question. My answer usually is I stopped loving it. But the real answer is it ate up my much coveted free time. There was a time when I just face painted so I had all week to be with the muppets. When I went back to my career, I resented not having my weekends. But oh the guilt at giving up that kind of money…

  4. Awesome story! And yes, the parties with Santa I will always remember from my childhood. Dad was part of the Lion’s Club and Toastmasters, we usually attended both pot-luck style parties. I recall getting older and not wanting to play with the “little kids” anymore, so they made me the babysitter at the party. oh well, it was all in good spirit that lives on in my holidays with my kiddos.
    ~Merry Christmas~

    1. Lions Club! They do such amazing things and spread “Christmas Spirit” all year! As a kid, I never got to go to a big party like that. As an adult, I worked many parties like that. Being a kid ROCKS! πŸ™‚

  5. That ALL sounded absolutely awesome!!!! Shoo wee, i just want to pack up and join you for Christmas- with SNOW remember!! So jealous. Stunning post.

    Thanks for the ping too Ed!!!


  6. Do they have a Lions Club in Edmonton? My program manager said there wasn’t ….they are where I am from and helped us with a year end picnic…a wonderful couple of older gents! Loved your Blogs and your Christmas party inviting the neighbours…awesome! Take Care

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