Monday, December 05, 2005

you're welcome

christmas wouldn't be christmas without breakfast with santa.

each year, for easter and christmas, some of ye olde workin' actors do a gig as characters for holidays. we're lucky, because we get paid decently, and we do little skits and bits as generally unrelated characters to anything told to you as children.

this year, one mr. shad kunkle and i are (wait for it....) rocky the reindeer and tammy the cowgirl - natch.

here we are...

shad kunkle was my partner last christmas as well, and we fill the very early mornings laughing and talking, and then mocking shad for how ridiculous he looks in whatever get-up we're in. i should be one to talk - this year, i'm wearing chaps (semi-hot; unpictured).

the story? well, i own a ranch, see, and rocky is leaving to attend flight school to learn to be one of santa's reindeer. yep. kinda cute, until kids are like, why is Jessie from Toy Story 2 here? - but we deal with these things as they come.

every year i dread this until i'm doing it, and then every year i leave thankful that i've done it. it is the only chance to feel like you completely believe as an adult in the wonder of christmas when you see these kids react to santa. there's really nothing like it, and when i say kids, i kind of mean me.

last year, we had the santa known to some csz-ers as "real santa". Real Santa is a man who only makes his living doing santa gigs in the months of november and december. he has his own beard, long and white, and his wife comes with him on every gig and looks identical to mrs. claus. she wears holiday sweatshirts and our santa - even when off the clock - wears things that look like a santa on his own time: flannel shirts and suspenders, that sort of thing. RS tells us he's from arizona, that he has retired there. his children live here, and he works solely in illinois to check in on them, and flies back on weekdays. we don't believe him, for he is the realest santa.

the beard helps a bunch. our santa today (pictured, with kunks above) complained about how there is a league for real-beard santas out there that pisses him off. i can put a beard on that you can't tell where my face ends and it begins! he loudly exclaimed, as shad and i snuck who's-this-guy? glances to each other. RS would never complain. RS is one of my favorite things.

call me a beardist, but it does matter. i've been through some santas - and they have all been good. the real bearders, though? you're acing it. here's why: RS is very good with kids. he has them all sit on his lap and the cutest part about him is that he has a quiet exchange with each of them, one by one. i like it because it's not showy, and the kids really believe that he cares for them. he listens to all their requests, and smiles to their parents, and never gets upset if they're scared. one year, a child walked up with me who was developmentally delayed. he was scared and mostly confused, and if you think about it, in his favor - we all should be. we tell kids not to go near strangers, and then on high holy days, we fling them at old men and mascots. the kid walked slowly to RS, and with some encouragement, sat on santa's lap. he stared at him and appeared as if he had some questions, but remained quiet. after some chatter from santa, this kid looked up and yanked on the beard. it wasn't hard, just firm - a test. the beard didn't move of course, not one inch. the child gasped, and his eyes were like saucers. all the sudden, every doubt he had was gone - for some reason, he believed. there wasn't a dry eye in the house.

still don't believe, doubting thomas?

RS came around the corner last year, dressed in his garb from head to toe. shad and i (then dressed as snow white and prince charming... storyline '04: couple's quarrel; nearly an everybody loves raymond episode of SW & PC) wait in the kitchen to pop out and do our play for the kids. RS walks in, and in addition to looking super santa-y, he's wearing a golden key on a chain around his neck. "what's that for?", i asked, holding the key in my hand. "well, some little boys and girls aren't lucky enough to have a chimney, so this key works for everyone," he said. then he winked and walked away. shad and i barely muttered, "oh," because both of us had turned away with our eyes welled up.

you can say it.
we're pussies.
i don't care.
what are you getting for c-mas, you coal-knobs?

debatably, the most important part of the morning is the sneak out. we're pretty careful about it. what's the point of anything if you walk out half-costumed to your mazda miata as gretchen, the christmas dinosaur? that makes no sense. because of this, we do the sabotage sneak-out or we commit-to-the-bit, but nothing in-between. today, we snuck out, but other years haven't been as easy. two years back, bob ladewig (dressed as willy wonka) and i (dressed as mrs. claus) walked out to my xterra because the mall was swarmed with kids that had just been at breakfast. we got to the parking lot and started to disrobe, but then a little kid walked outside. bob said we were "just waiting for santa to bring the sleigh around!" well, the kid stuck around for a bit, until we told him we were pulling santa's "city car" around back to load up some reindeer feed. it was too late to change though, so your pal mrs. claus here drove from woodfield mall all the way back to chi-town on 90/94 to the sound of america honking, with an additional embarrassing walk from car to old belmont apartment at 11am.

this one's for the children.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful, wonderful post. I adore you.

Jason RC

12:49 PM  
Blogger Sharina said...


1:39 AM  
Blogger Sharina said...


1:39 AM  
Blogger tara d. said...

thanks, chin - that's so sweet. i love how many people were moved by this story. maybe santa IS real...

9:45 AM  
Blogger tara d. said...

um, elow?

9:46 AM  
Blogger Carrie said...

Yet another reason (#54285) why I love me some Tara D.

1:11 PM  
Anonymous Tracy said...

Hooray for Real Santa! Yay! Great story!

8:04 AM  
Blogger Lindberg said...

Great post. Great Story. As a veteran of these things. (I retired, it's too early and not enough "thanks" if you follow me) I always HATED every second of them, until I got out with the kids. And I played Santa several time. (a 169 lb, 6 foot guy who was 27 at the time, it was all in the laugh, which I made my own) Once those kids laughed and smiled I was back to being a kid again. Back to the malls, back to christmas morning. This post also sent me there. Though please, for the love of god, someone get TD a nice, small digital camera for her to post her pics. That phone's gotta go.

11:47 AM  
Blogger tara d. said...

carrie barrett, you're nice-o!
tracy, i love! where you been, comment machine?

12:40 PM  
Blogger tara d. said...

lindberg's right.
and you're just the man to do it.

merry christmas, self!

12:40 PM  

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