This has been a tough year for Santa Claus.
Not only is the naughty list growing substantially as people can’t figure out how to be kind to each other, but this Novel Coronavirus has really cramped his style.
Santa’s entire public persona is pretty much based on touch and intimacy.
The power of human contact is inestimable. It conveys compassion. It signals trust. It displays tenderness. It is a catalyst for comfort, and a medium for healing. Couple that power with Christmas magic, and unavoidably those who come into contact with Santa Claus walk away the better for it. Michelangelo said, “To touch is to give life.” A touch from Santa brings hope and Christmas spirit to that life.
Granted, much of the work Santa does is mostly behind the scenes and contact free–making all the toys, checking the list twice, prepping the sleigh, flying around the world, delivering the presents, and downing all the milk and the cookies. And he does it all without any contact with anyone–the social distancing KING!
And when it comes to communication, Santa has mastered the distance piece. The letters to (and from) Santa are iconic. The ability to see when you are sleeping is also something generated from afar. And don’t forget his elves on the shelf (not susceptible to Coronavirus!) who return and report almost nightly.
But, his other job, the one that takes up most of his time and energy (and the one that is arguably more important) spreading Christmas cheer, is all about human contact. The kids sit on his knee. They hug him. Babies drool on him. Mothers whisper into his ear. Fathers shake his hand. People stand in line, even press forward in masses, to see him. And there isn’t a more airborne-droplet-producing-and-projecting-action than a good, solid “Ho-Ho-Ho!”
So, PGH Santa (along with many other brothers in red) is adapting. One of my friends said the other day, “‘As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly, when they meet with an obstacle mount to the sky!’ So, too, does Santa in the face of this obstacle–time for us to soar!” (Santa Ed Taylor)
In the face of this difficult challenge, I am offering virtual visits.
(Note: I am also planning on live, in home, at party, on stage visits as well, with careful and safe distancing, as long as the powers that be allow it).
But I am committing time, energy, and resources into ensuring that these virtual visits don’t fall far short of the magic of an in-person visit. The tech is what it is. But the ability to connect with those little ones through the camera, through the screen, is where I will place my preparation and my focus.
After all, touch is key. And I want to touch their hearts…
Please enjoy this poem. I wrote it in a style I very much like:
‘Twas four months before Christmas and all through the world,
Not a parent was pleased as the virus unfurled.
The children were anxious, and scared to go out,
As visions of sickness were bandied about.
And I sat at my desk and I put on my cap
And I pondered the safety of kids on my lap,
When out of my phone there arose such a clatter
I sprang with my fingers to check out the matter.
An invitation waited on a new-texted message
That gave me a thought without much extra guessage
For I was invited to a meeting with Zoom.
And the answer burst forth like a blossom in bloom.
I can still be the elf that brings all of the joy
To every girl and to every boy!
And for those for whom Covid gives nothing but dread,
I will offer a virtual visit instead!
Now the camera is mounted, the bandwidth is screaming,
The visits are clear for the cheer to be streaming.
The green screen is hung on the wall with great care
In hopes that the children will see wonders there.
For I in my suit, through the magic of Zoom,
Will arrive on their screen in their own living room.
And we’ll chat, and we’ll sing, and we’ll read, and we’ll play
And it won’t even feel like we’re miles away.
And when the time comes to sign off and part ways
The kids will each know it’s a matter of days
‘Til their dreams will be filled with that voice taking flight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”