Colouring books, crayons, sticker books and stuffies fill the living room of a local couple who have spent the past couple of weeks playing Santa and Mrs. Claus for local families.
The gifts are all wrapped in brightly coloured paper and neatly stacked in front of a decorated Christmas tree, waiting to be delivered by “Santa Claus.”
“A few people know who Santa and Mrs. Claus are, but most don’t and this is the way we would like to keep it,” says ‘Mr. Claus’. “This is not about us, it’s about Santa.”
‘Mrs. Claus’ posted a notice to Facebook earlier this month inviting anyone who would like to have a quick, safely distanced visit from Santa to message her. The result was astounding to the couple. Within a very short time, Mrs. Claus’ appointment book was filled.
Typically, a visit from Santa includes a trip to someone’s home and a bit of cheery conversation. “A lot of children are amazed that Santa will come to visit them at their home,” says Santa.
With all of the public health regulations in place this year to prevent against the spread of COVID-19, Santa still finds a way to visit. But this year, the couple helping Santa out are doing things in a different way — safely, from a distance. Santa visits the house after getting his instructions from the Mrs., spreads a little Christmas cheer through a brief conversation with the children and their parents from a safe distance, and then leaves a little gift — which vary according to the ages of children being visited — on the doorstep.
“Shockingly,” he jokes, “I’ve never had a child say they are on Santa’s naughty list, but a lot of parents have said they were — ho ho ho!”
Santa explains, “It’s important not to wait around too long. Most visits last only a few minutes. I like to get in and out quickly to preserve the magic.”
The past couple of years the retired couple has spent bringing joy to children has given them plenty of laughs and plenty of reasons to feel grateful.
Reactions to Santa appearing in a neighbourhood or walking down the street vary from surprise to glee. “It’s always kind of fun,” Santa explains. “Most of the kids are speechless.”
Mrs. Claus notes, “We were pleasantly shocked this year by the overwhelming response. Within three minutes of posting the notice requests came flooding in and within the first day we had more than 100 requests.”
The couple started the project three years ago and have enjoyed every busy moment of it. The first two years they visited approximately 20 houses per year. This year is an exception.
“It’s been a difficult year for everyone so we are happy to spread a little joy.”
They say they believe the increase this year is due to the current health pandemic. People are reluctant to go to the mall, are hesitant to travel and are just being cautious. “People are starving for joy. And it feels good to be able to do that, because it comes back to us tenfold.”