Bad Santa

I'm a bad Santa, and that's "bad" as in "bad imitation," not "bad" as in "good" or "ill-behaved." But I love being Santa, even if it's for 20 minutes in our office holiday party, and this year marked two full decades of wearing a red carpet, itchy nylon beard and someone else's idea of winter galoshes. I've gone from needing a pillow to fill out the suit and pulling the white wig down over my ears to relying on my own layers of Ben & Jerry's sponsored winter insulation and letting my own hair provide the transition to Santa's flowing and somewhat flammable white locks. This year I hit a nadir, with Maria Buoy's 4-year old daughter whispering "Why is Hal in a Santa costume?" once they had retreated to the safety of the car. When you can't fool any of the kids some of the time maybe it's time to hang up the toy sack.

Then again, I get unique pleasure out of dressing up as Saint Nick. It's seeing a kids' eyes get a little bit bigger when I call them by their last name, or when they open a toy that (not surprisingly) has arrived in their favorite color or character style. It's being able to "sell" Santa Claus, by asking for a plate of cookies (chocolate chip), or talk about how "my" reindeer are grazing at the North Pole, or even reminding the 11-year old who is too Web 2.0 oriented for Santa Claus that she used to be terrified of me, in the same suit, just a few years ago, but I won't tell anyone in public. Secrets involving Santa are bi-directional.

The question I'm asked most frequently (after "Aren't you hot in that suit?") is "How does a Jewish guy get to play Santa Claus"? The simple answer, and somewhat obvious, is that it's because I can -- not just physically filling out the red, white and black (my beloved NJ Devils color combinations, slightly scrambled), but being able to enjoy religious freedom, diversity in the workplace, and an emphasis on fun in our corporate culture. I'm quick to remind people that Hanukah celebrates a miracle of faith and belief, and I'm delighted to celebrate the season by sharing in any mythology of the season. The very right to do so is the fabric of the Declaration of Independence and was the whole point of the revolt against Hellenistic persecution that led to the miracle of Hanukah.

To borrow Elvis Costello out of context, there's nothing funny about Peace, Love and Understanding, because they are causally related. It's up to us to figure out which one to teach our kids first, such that the others follow. I'm happy to try doing that looking like the love child of Elmo and Bigfoot.

Comments:

I was Santa for my kid's day care for a couple of years while they were going. I completely understand the pleasure you get from doing this Hal.

More power to you man.

alan.

Posted by Alan Hargreaves on December 18, 2007 at 01:59 PM EST #

It's not just small kids that enjoy seeing you play Santa. The fact that you take the time out of your crazy busy schedule to be Santa makes this holiday season just a little more special for big kids, too! Hal, you set a great example for all of us.

Posted by Candace on December 19, 2007 at 03:39 AM EST #

Hal, you have been Santa to me all year. You are a great Santa. Shalom.

Posted by Carolyn on December 19, 2007 at 08:34 AM EST #

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Hal Stern's thoughts on software, services, cloud computing, security, privacy, and data management

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