I was waiting at the light on the Post Road today when I saw my first truckload of Christmas trees; a reminder of the season. Here it comes, ready or not.
A few weeks ago, while dressed up as Santa Claus at La Chateau in South Salem, I stepped out the front door to get a breath of air. I’d forgotten how hot it gets under that fur-lined hat with a pillow stuffed in front held on by a big black belt. I’ve been retired from the Santa suit for several years, but this was an unusual occasion.
A carload of diners walked up to the door and a woman snapped at me, clearly agitated by a pre-Halloween Santa, “It’s too soon for that!” She didn’t know there was a Halloween costume party in progress with about forty folks dressed in a variety of costumes, including a man dressed as the Pope with his wife beside him dressed as a nun.
The man dressed as the Pope didn’t know that he was a guest at a wedding—a surprise wedding, at which I would be officiating while dressed as Santa.
The couple convinced me to do it. So I did. They invited family and friends to a costume dinner party the Saturday night before Halloween, and though some close family members were a bit suspicious, most of the guests didn’t have a clue they were coming to a wedding.
I mingled with the guests for longer than my comfort level allowed—both physical and emotional comfort. So I stepped out for some air, both to cool off and to relieve myself of the discomfort. I had been questioned about my relationship to the couple who were hosting the party, and I simply said that I’ve known them both all of their lives, and I know for a fact that they’ve been nice, more than naughty, and that they always left a plate of cookies for me. I talked about things in the North Pole, with the elves threatening to go on strike, and so forth.
The bride and groom to be were dressed as prince and princess. They didn’t tell me she planned to change into a wedding gown, and he into a tux, for the ceremony. That made me feel all the more awkward while I stood in front of them dressed all in red, trying to create a sense of seriousness of purpose, as we ministers must do at such occasions.
The ceremony went well. I talked about the gift that they are to one another, and so forth. The man dressed as the Pope was the first to accept my invitation to say something to the bride and groom before they exchanged vows. He offered a blessing with genuine tears in his eyes, helping to create the mood we needed; several others followed suit, thankfully.
It was the only wedding I’ve done while dressed as Santa–the only one I’ll ever do. The bride and groom were very appreciative, and the guests were generous with their kudos following the ceremony. But it was simply too disorienting, pushing me beyond my good-sport limit.
I guess Christmas itself is somewhat disorienting. It changes every year, as the children and grandchildren grow up and memories of Santa fade. I hope you find some joy in this season while resisting the temptation to complain, like that woman. Remember, angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.