It all started with the Beard. Allow me to explain.
Several years ago I experienced a life-changing event. I received my Medicare card in the mail. This was a real wake-up call for me, because you see, I was now officially "Old." 60th birthday was bad enough, but in my mind, the very definition of "old" is "old enough to be on Medicare."
And there was not a thing I could do about it.
Then one day soon after "the event," I started thinking to myself, "guess I might as well make the most of it-after all, there are some advantages to being old:
-I can bring out that "Old Geezer" card someone once gave me and hang it on my wall
-I can allow others to open the door for me
-I can beg off all that lifting, moving, and other physical volunteer work I used to do
-I have a little more personal freedom because now I'm just a silly old dude and everyone will just ignore me anyway
-etc. etc. etc."
I had been more or less clean-shaven all my life, so I decided to experiment with just not shaving to see what might result...if I looked sloppy and unkempt, so what? I'm old! As it turned out, in a remarkably short period of time I was sporting a healthy-looking, but white, beard! A little later I woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and exclaimed in consternation, "I'm turning into Santa!"
It didn't take others long to start noticing, too.
Soon, the children and family minister at my church began hitting me up to be Santa at our upcoming yearly Christmas festival, since our long-standing Santa of many years had moved to Texas. I resisted at first because I was still getting accustomed to my newly acquired persona of being a guy with a long white beard who occasionally might even be mistaken for Santa Claus! I do absolutely love the Christmas season and everything about it-the lights, the music, the pageantry, and seeing all the beautiful children and contemplating the real meaning of Christmas--I just was not sure I was ready to step into a new role that, frankly, had never ever crossed my mind-that of becoming a real bearded Santa!
That retort didn't stop her from trying to persuade me to reconsider. Even my wife Kathy got into the act and started putting on the pressure, telling me that perhaps there was a reason this new growth came so easily. She even mentioned she was willing to become Mrs. Santa! She has been in the preschool ministry at church for over 40 years and is extremely loving and talented in working with the preschoolers and first and second graders.
I finally gave in, knowing Kathy would be there to help me gain confidence and a growing comfort level with each new child (and a few adults!) that would sit on Santa's knee. Suffice it to say that the party (and a few more opportunities) went well and I learned new meaning to the expression, "Never say Never!"
I soon became a card-carrying member of IBRBS (International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas) and continued my study of the world of Santa Claus, which is both deeper and wider than any previous notion I could ever have known...much more than the cartoon figure of a jolly guy in a red suit that gets tracked by NORAD radar once a year, who talks about naughty and nice, delivers presents, then gets put away with the rest of the Christmas decorations when the season is over.
That following spring Kathy and I went to Branson, MO to attend an IBRBS convention. There, as I mingled with some 800 other Santas of various nationalities, races, sizes, shapes, and ages, I learned anew that Santa embodies the true spirit of giving, joy, and kindness, reflecting what happened to this world over 2000 years ago in a little town called Bethlehem. I determined that this characterization is indeed something I need to keep doing.
Since then, we have continued being a part of our annual Christmas Festival at church, scheduling home visits and photo sessions, and doing charitable work at a daycare and assisted living facility. We have become a part of the Middle Tennessee Santas, and recently graduated from the Northern Lights Santa Academy.
I intend to occasionally provide further details of this ongoing journey on my Blog on this site. Regardless of whether you hire us or not, we hope you will check back in from time to time. Thanks for visiting!