I remember one day last year when we saw “Santa” three times. Once at the grocery store handing out candy canes, then there he was again outside a car dealership, and once more when we went to get our Christmas tree. That same holiday season, we saw him aboard the Polar Express, then again when he arrived at my parents’ house on a fire truck – not to be confused with the Santa who arrived in our town square to light the Christmas tree on…you guessed it, another fire truck. All that and we never even went to see the one at the mall!
My kids never asked questions about it, but I started to wonder if seeing Santa so many times before his actual arrival on Christmas Eve would cause confusion or take away some of the magic. I know most people tell their kids that those aren’t the real Santa; that those guys are just the helpers, but can there be such a thing as Santa fatigue? I just wonder if seeing him over and over, sometimes with a grey beard, sometimes with a white one, sometimes with a lush velvet suit and sometimes with a ratty bright red one is going to make them not care about the magical guy who will slip down our chimney on December 24th.
What I DO love is seeing Santa in the “offseason”. For example, on a recent trip to the school bus yard to retrieve a lost jacket, who pulled in driving one of the buses but Santa Claus himself. This man looked just like Santa Claus and Ben was amazed that he drove a bus in our town. I commented on how well behaved the boys and girls on that bus must be because they have Santa watching over them each day.
On another day over the summer, Ben and I were at a grocery store we don’t normally go to. There was a man in one of the aisles again who looked just like Santa. He was even wearing a red shirt! He started chatting with us…asking Ben how old he was and if he was behaving etc. I actually started to get a little uncomfortable, especially when we started walking away and the guy clearly started reaching for his wallet! But what he did was slip me a Santa business card, and told me to tell my son who he was once he walked away.
I was actually planning to tell Benny that it was Santa, but the card did it for me. We talked about how in the summer, Santa comes down from the North Pole to check up on kids. Ben really believed it was him. It was really cool. And the best part, we didn’t see the man again during that trip. It’s like he was there to check up on Ben, then disappeared.
So Santa’s helpers can be around all they want during the holiday season, but when the real Santa appears where and when you least expect it, that truly is magical.