Magic Carpet Journals

 

My Friend Santa Claus
 



 Magic Carpet Journals' editor Maxine George shares her  memories of

 Santa and Mrs. Claus



 
  Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus

In Canada Santa Claus has been around as long as I can remember which takes me back many years to when I was a little girl on the prairie.  I can recall my delight at waking up on Christmas morning to find that there was a Shirley Temple doll under the tree.  In those days money was scarce.  My single aunt helped Santa deliver that to our tree.


My parents ran a general store in a small Alberta town.  Christmas Eve was a busy time.  The store did not close until the last customer left town that evening, which could be rather late.  I well remember being excited and unable to go to sleep on one particular Christmas Eve.  My Dad came into my room and quietly told me that I had get to sleep because someone had just been in the store and told them Santa and his sleigh had been seen near Gilbertson's.  Now that was very plausible because Gilbertson's house was the one nearest the north road into town.  I've never tried so hard to get to sleep as I did that night. When I grew up and became a parent we noticed that Santa had bells on his sleigh and when the children heard the tinkle of those bells they too tried harder to get to sleep.


  There were no shopping malls with Santa or his helpers when I was growing up.  In my early years my only communication with Santa took place over the big oak telephone that hung up on the wall in the store.  Standing on a stool and shouting up into the mouthpiece I had the thrill of actually talking to him!  Those calls happened to coincide with the time the town telephone operator's fiancÚ dropped into the office to see her.

 

 

Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus with children and a pet dog
 

Now that I'm a grandparent, I personally know the man known as Santa.  I saw him one day at Canada Place.  During the year, the only way you might suspect he is Santa is because of his white curly beard. His beard is real you know.   He told me that he now lives on the B.C. coast in the summer, because it is warmer there than up at the North Pole.  However, very soon now, he and his wife will be coming around to various neighbourhoods here in the Valley to see some of the boys and girls.  His helpers go to many of the malls, but he and his wife try to come to as many places as they can before he flies off on his world travels on Christmas eve.   This year I hear Mrs. Santa might accompany him.
 

  Santa is known by other names and wears clothes different from the familiar red suit trimmed with white fur.  His original name was St. Nicholas in Europe. He was a Bishop around 340 AD and spent his life helping the poor and underprivileged. He loved children and often went out at night disguised in a hooded cloak, to leave necessary gifts of money, clothing or food at the windows of unfortunate families.

 

 

Santa Claus also known as Saint Nicholas in traditional Ukrainian bishop's clothes

 

In North America, Santa became his nickname.   We visited with Saint Nicholas once in Murrayville, on December 5th, riding in a horse and wagon.  Dressed in a traditional long red coat and tall Bishop's hat, he was accompanied by Black Peter, who is part of the Dutch Christmas legend.   Dutch children knew that if they weren't good, 'Sinterklaas' and Black Peter (Zwarte Piet) would only leave them a lump of coal when they came to their house.  The white-bearded, European St.Nicholas, in his red bishop's costume, updated his wardrobe in North America to fit with the lifestyle and traditions in this land.  For many years Coca Cola ran a series of ads depicting Santa in his red suit with the white fur trim, thus setting the fashion statement for the modern Santa of today.


  Last year Santa sent us a picture of himself dressed as the Ukrainian St. Nicholas.  St. Nicholas is special to many of the children whose families came from Eastern Europe, such as the Ukrainian people.  People who come here from other countries remember the traditions of their motherland. Hopefully they teach them to their children and, with time, those customs become immersed into the traditions of our land.  It enriches all our traditions to share them with others.


 

 

 

Santa Claus talks with the children

 

It was a pleasure to see Santa and Mrs. Santa again this year.  I came home to tell my family all about it.  Santa was sick a few years ago.  His voice has changed a little and he has lost a bit of weight, but he still loves being Santa and bringing the spirit of Christmas to children.


Most grandparents have stories about their experiences with Santa Claus.  I wonder how many children think to ask about them.

Remember Santa lives on in the hearts of those who love him!  That is his legacy.

Article by M. Maxine George

Photos Courtesy of  L. & M.  Arychuk


 

Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet or Santa Claus and Black Peter in Murrayville

Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet  in  Murrayville     Photo courtesy of M. Maxine George

 

 

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Last Updated on November 17, 2011 by M. Maxine George editor.
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