I dressed up as Santa Claus yesterday in order to entertain a room full of children at a neighborhood Christmas party. A colleague hosts the party each year, and about two dozen children fill her living room to sing Christmas carols and meet Santa.
Her originally-scheduled Santa was unavailable for the morning, so I offered to fill the suit “only if absolutely no one else was willing.”
In the words of a friend, “You’re going to make a terrible Santa. You’re not old, you’re not jolly and you’re too sarcastic.”
These were my concerns as well.
Though I have some acting experience (and in children’s theater, no less), I was typically cast as ogres, evil kings and angry old men. The director of a show once had to tell me to tone down my ogre performance because several frightened children had to leave the theater in tears.
I wasn’t sure if I had jolly old Saint Nick in me.
To perform the role of Santa Claus well enough to convince a room full of little children that I was real, in front of a parents who wanted their children to believe that I was real, made me more than a little nervous.
By the time Saturday arrived, I was actually scared.
This is why I said yes when asked to perform the role.
I say yes whenever possible, but I especially say yes when the request is outside my comfort zone or seems completely impossible.
These are the best times to say yes.
Saying yes under these conditions has changed my life. Thanks to my strict adherence to this rule, I am now a storyteller, a wedding DJ, a minister, a professional speaker, a playwright and a life coach, just to name a few.
In each of these instances, someone asked me to do something that made me uncomfortable or something that I had absolutely no business doing, and the results were extraordinary.
My life is full and complicated and interesting and harried and diverse and joyous because of my willingness to say yes.
In the end, saying yes to Santa was amazing.
As nervous as I was upon arriving at the home, the moment I entered that room and saw those children, all of my nervousness melted away. I sat in a chair beside a Christmas tree in front of a pile of wide-eyed boys and girls and sang songs with them. I laughed with a hearty “Ho! Ho! Ho!” I passed out gifts and sat with children on my lap as their parents snapped photos. The children stared, waved, laughed and in a couple cases cried. They said “Thank you” and wished me a merry Christmas They asked where Rudolph was and offered to help on Christmas Eve.
Two of them whispered, “I love you, Santa” into my ear.
Would I play Santa again if asked?
Absolutely. Every day if I could. It was great.
I said yes to Santa, and I will never forget it.
After I left the house, I drove through the McDonald’s drive-thru, still in costume and causing quite a stir. Employees piled into the drive-thru booth to see Santa behind the wheel of his aging Subaru Outback. A couple of them told me what they wanted for Christmas.
“Rent money” and “new tires for my ride.”
I admittedly felt a little sacrilegious sitting in a parking lot in the Santa suit, eating an Egg McMuffin and listening to Mary Roach’s Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex through headphones jammed beneath my white, curly wig, but even Santa has to eat.