Another Christmas has come and gone and a new decade has begun. December just seems to arrive earlier and go by a little faster every year. I am never ready for the holiday season to end. 

But Christmas is officially over, and my Santa costume has been carefully packed away. The arrival of Christmas Day is always a time of mixed emotion for my family. 

Playing Santa is something we look forward to each year. We have a lot of fun, but it can be very exhausting both physically and emotionally. 

The costumes are not designed for comfort. When I am inside of a building, the costume is unbearably warm. When it is bitter cold outside, it doesn’t offer much protection. The Santa boots are designed for appearance rather than protection or comfort. 

My wife plays Mrs. Claus, and my son portrays a very tall elf. My son dreads the process of gluing on or removing his pointed elf ears. But he would never miss the opportunity to visit with the children, and they love seeing his ears.

December is a busy time of the year. After working all day, many evenings and weekends are spent in costume. Sometimes after a busy workday, I can’t help but think how nice it would be to just relax at home and enjoy the Christmas season. But I always rush home and hurry to get into my costume.

I can’t explain it, but there seems to be a special magic woven into our costumes. When we put them on and step outside, a wonderful transformation begins to take place. Children come running to greet us, their eyes bright with excitement. At that moment, everything changes. Suddenly the uncomfortable costume, and the tight boots that pinch my feet are forgotten. There is magic in the air, we can feel it, and we are no longer just playing a part. 

Some children rush right up to us. Others are timid and stay very close to their parents. But we see the wonder in their eyes, and we feel the love. We listen to their dreams, and they confide to us their deepest desires. 

While some children ask for extravagant things, many ask for very simple things. Some ask for things that break our hearts and leave us wishing we could do more. We wish we could make their dreams come true and more importantly, we wish we could meet their needs. 

There are days where we have so many places to visit that we end up spending the entire day in our costumes. Those days can be long and tiring. When we step inside of a restaurant, we instantly become the center of attention. Children will often interrupt our meal, but we don’t mind. We actually look forward to those moments. We love to see the happiness and excitement on the faces of the children and the parents. 

Each time we visit with the children and their parents, we forget how tired we are and how uncomfortable the costumes have become. When we arrive home at the end of a long day, we are more than ready to get out of our costumes, and yet, we find ourselves wishing we had one more place to go. 

Each year people tell us that we have made Christmas special for their family and we are showered with love and gratitude. This year one little girl brought presents for us, and others brought cookies, candy, cards and letters. 

While we may bring joy to those families, it works both ways. Seeing the happiness on their faces has become a treasured part of our Christmas and brings it us joy.

But whether I like it or not, Christmas is over and the New Year has arrived. Right now, Christmas seems distant and far away. But my family and I never fully let go of Christmas. We may not be in costume, but we will wear those costumes and all that they represent in our hearts all year long. 

So for now, our costumes are all in their special bags. As I pack them away, I always find myself wishing that we could have put them on just one more time, and visited just one more place. 

I don’t know what the events this new year will bring. But there is one thing I do know for sure.  Like all of the previous years, it will go by quickly, and Santa, Mrs. Claus and their elf are counting the days until their next visit.

 

CourierTraveler reporter John Shelman can be contacted at (620) 442-4200 or reporter@ctnewsonline.com.

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