“When I was very small, we celebrated Christmas,” said Morgan Putnam, a professional Santa Claus in North Dakota. “Later on, we didn’t. I had a…unique childhood, and a family with a lot of issues. That’s why I’ve always loved Christmas. It brings me back to a simpler time.“My first time putting on the red suit, I never saw it coming. I worked behind the desk at a hotel at the time. A local pharmacist was about to have his annual courtesy photo shoot with Santa event that year, but his regular Santa had to cancel at the last minute because he was sick or had to go to a wedding or something — so I was asked to do it instead.
“When you’re first asked to be Santa, it comes as kind of a shock. Even at my age, most men like to think they look like James Bond. Santa’s a bit of a stretch from that. But I figured, hey, I could at least order the suit online and see how it looked on me. If I didn’t like it, I’d have a Halloween costume at worst. To my surprise it looked great on me, so I helped out the pharmacist. I’ve never looked back.
“Word got around that I was a natural Santa Claus, and before long I was visiting homes, businesses, malls, and even less conventional places like bars and reservations. The way I see it, it’s Santa’s job to go wherever the Christmas spirit belongs, which is everywhere. Not that I’d ever compare myself to Him, but if Christ could take the trouble to bring his ministry to the east, then the least I can do is spend a few more hours in the car to go wherever Santa is needed.
“Any Santa would tell you that the kids are the best part about doing his job. Children aren’t crafty, children don’t shy away from telling the truth. They’re just honest. We should all be more like them.
“One time a little boy came up and told me plainly, ‘Santa, you’re really fat!’ So I told him that I might be a little fat, it’s true, but that he was short. He told me ‘Well, I might be short, but I’m going to be tall. Will you ever be skinny?’ I told him that I could — but only if Mrs. Claus really wanted me to.
“I once asked another one, who couldn’t have been more than five years old, what he would like for Christmas. ‘I don’t need anything,’ he said. ‘I’ve got everything I want. Why don’t you give my toys to someone who doesn’t have anything?’ Imagine that. So young, but so generous.
“Old kids are delightful, too, which is why I visit the nursing home in my town every year. Once an old timer told me that he was still waiting to get the BB gun he’d asked for in 1944. I told him, ‘Yeah, and we both know why, don’t we?’ That got everyone in the lunchroom a good laugh.
“Last year I visited with an old lady, too frail to get out of bed, very close to the end. She told me that she was 88 years old, and that she still believed. I told her that believing is the most important thing.”
“This job can get to you sometimes, but I’m blessed to be able to do it. I care about what Santa represents — hope for the future, love for your fellow man. Light needs to be stronger than darkness. We all just have to do what we can to help.”
To have Santa Morgan come to your home or place of work, please contact his agent Gina at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By David Scheller