John Alexander with nurses from Fresenius Kidney Care . l Photo submitted
Cate . “ The rest is history . Santa ’ s belly got bigger , his real beard got whiter and one visit turned into two , then four , and now Santa has a busy schedule leading up to Christmas .”
Cate is especially well-suited to be inhabited by the spirit of Santa as he looks the part , with his highly recognizable white beard . Rumor has it that the first time Santa became aware of Cate ’ s interest in the job , he let out a thunderous “ ho ho ho ” of approval upon seeing Cate ’ s snow-colored facial hair .
Among Cate ’ s duties in assisting Santa are helping kids get direct access to St . Nick , either by using his ears to listen or by speaking to them in a friendly voice .
“ My visits are usually more personal and I get to actually sit with each child and to talk with them about Christmas ,” he said , “ or talk about flying reindeers or read ‘ The Night Before Christmas ’ and let them get their picture with a ‘ right jolly old elf .’”
Like many businesses , Santa insists that those in his employee wear the traditional uniform . Cate probably has about four or five Santa suits , but currently uses two — a heavy one for cold outdoor weather and a lighter one for indoor appearances . And as you can imagine , it takes a while to get the look exactly right — Santa insists on authenticity , after all .
“ The heavy one was commercially made , but the lighter one was custommade by a professional in Ohio ,” said Cate . “ Prep time early in the season is 20 to 30 minutes , but it gets streamlined as the season wears on and can be as fast as around 10 to 15 minutes when everything goes right . Mrs . Santa is good at helping to speed the process .”
Cate embraces the role as someone who has found memories of growing up with three siblings and always looking forward to a visit from Santa , as well as many other memories of this special time of year that capture that essence of love and togetherness that Santa values so much .
“( I remember ) the warmth of family gathered around the table at Christmas , and all of us attending Christmas Eve service at Church , and the smell of a Christmas tree and singing Christmas Carols , and hot spiced tea and holiday peanut brittle ,” said Cate . “ And it ’ s a time when people reach out and share the Christmas spirit with those whom they may not know and may not normally share with .”
Getting to be a local representative for Santa in the Lake Cumberland area means a lot to Cate , but he cautions that it ’ s a year-long responsibility , not just a seasonal gig .
“ Christmas is a special time that ’ s
Cumberland Lake , Inc . “ Working together for a better community .”
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December 2021 SEKY - Life in Southeast Kentucky • 31