Reflections Holiday Issue | Volume 17, Number 5 - Page 76

PURSUITS
Santa John Santa Mike Santa Duane Santa Everrett
© KAITLYN DELONG PHOTOGRAPHY
These dedicated gentlemen are not alone . You can find at least a half-dozen other Santa ' s Helpers between here and downtown Macon . It ' s a true calling . And in these times of tested traditions , Santa ' s Helpers are leading a valiant crusade in keeping a cherished custom alive .
Each Christmas season , they get to experience what is true in this world , and that truth comes out of the mouths of babes . Most of the requests made to Santa ' s Helpers are to be expected , some comical , many of them wrenching and the Helpers must be equipped to respond to a child ' s Christmas list with patience , thoughtfulness , honesty , and especially care .
When we sat down with our local Santa ' s Helpers , they each came to life " in character " while reflecting on their work in helping Santa . There was a camaraderie immediately felt in the group — not a hint of competitiveness or one-upmanship — just a sharing of their stories .
For skeptical kids who start out by declaring , " You ' re not the real Santa ," Santa Duane has the perfect retort , " All Santa ' s Helpers look like the real Santa and we get to talk to Santa every day . I do . So , have you been good ?" This always elicits a nod of " Yes ." Santa Everrett concurs , " I say to them that Santa is real in here ( Pointing to his heart ). I get to be his Helper and to look just like him ."
Undoubtedly , being a Santa ' s Helper brings with it a huge responsibility when sitting with children who have special needs , emotional issues , or who are from broken homes . Santa Mike chimes in with , " In the end , it ' s our responsibility to give them all hope ."
One of the most common questions kids ask is , " If I ' m at my grandma ' s house , can you still find me ?" And of course , the answer is always , " Yes ." " And the kids put all sorts of things on their Christmas list for Santa ," says Santa Mike . " One child asked for a parrot , and another wanted a new dog because his dog had just died . Some want electronics , and I see their parents catching my eye saying ' No !' So , I tell them Santa ' s elves don ' t know how to make electronics ." A funny moment came for Santa Everrett when a little girl sat on his lap looking frustrated , He asked her , " And where have you been ?" To which she replied , " I ' ve been everywhere , Santa ! Looking for you — all day !"
Santa Duane quietly then added an endearing episode , " I had a child ask Santa for a brand-new kidney and that humbled my heart immediately . You have to care — they can see it . You have to know that caring is who Santa is ." All of Santa ' s Helpers nodded in support .
Of course , not all goes smoothly during a Santa ' s Helper seating . More than once , Helpers quietly try to ignore the inevitable — accidents . " This little girl was waiting in line for a long time ," says , Santa John , " and when she finally got to sit on Santa ' s lap , she was so nervous , she had an accident of the bladder . My boots got wet . Neither she nor I let on ." Now that ' s what the real Santa would have done and what a true Helper would do in the line of duty .
Richmond Hill and neighboring stretches are endowed with some very talented and dedicated Santa ' s Helpers who eagerly serve this community and the children within it — children of all ages . They keep the spirit of Christmas alive in their hearts and in their character . They truly believe in Santa Claus — and they ’ re big people too . •
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