On my 2nd Day of Christmas I had the opportunity to spend part of my afternoon playing Santa Claus for about a dozen children from Homes for the Homeless. I did this last year and it was a total blast and weeks and weeks ago I bugged the organizer to let me do it again. It so happened that it occurred just a couple hours from one of the holiday parties our department was organizing but even though it meant I ended up sprinting across the street to help finish my colleague set up.
But I'm so glad that I did. I spent many summers in the mid 90s working for the California Theater Center as an Artistic Director teaching and directing month-long conervatory sessions. The kids were aged anywhere from 8 to 14. For four summers I would trek out to Sunnyvale, CA - no matter that one summer my car died about 250 miles from Salt Lake or that another summer I had gone to work for another arts organization that proved to be really awful or that one summer I had to figure out how to cast and direct 50 kids in a shortened version of "Midsummer Night's Dream" - one that only had roles for about 30 - and the kids only had three weeks to memorize Shakespeare. But the kids did it - yes the same age group from 8 to 14. Then, for a couple years I taught a weekly drama class for 7, 8 and 9 year olds at a now defunct theater here in New York. THAT was awesome and prompted one of the 8 year olds to declare that I was 'one of them', which I took as a compliment (I'm pretty sure that's how it was meant).
So coming into the room with a bag of toys for the kids and having them swarm and grab on to my leg was one of the best moments I've had in a long long time. I always wanted kids but being a single gay man has kind of worked against me in that department.
In any event, it's things like being Santa that kind of make up for that lack. And rousing the kids to "ho ho ho" was totally awesome. Then the kids scrambled up on my lap for presents and pictures. Mostly they were anxious - except one girl who was a little bigger (and maybe older?) than the other 4 to 6 year olds. When it was her turn, I called her over (like I had the other kids) and she came over, hesitated and said "I can't... I'm.... heavy".
I couldn't believe my ears - at what, 6 or 7 (?) she had already had someone knock into her head that "heavy" = "worthless" and a little bit of my heart broke. I encouraged her to come up anyway - and then so did the other kids. And I think my heart repaired itself a little as she climbed up. And you know what, she was just fine and btw not 'heavy' at all.
I wondered how she would fare and what road she'd have to take to get rid of that notion that she was 'heavy' and realize that she's just fine the way she is. If I were the real Santa Claus, it would be the first thing I'd do for her.
After presents we sang and I left, changed, sprinted across the street to 30 Rock for an event at the Rainbow Room that we were managing. One of my colleagues thought he saw Tina Fey walking through the lobby and then we found out that the 30 Rock holiday party was happening at the same time - and we were like "yeah, that was definitely her".
And then I got to see the view from up there. The pic is a little fuzzy (iphone photo, you know) but you get the idea. So on Day 2 I Jumped for Joy for lots of reasons and looking forward to the coming days as well.