15
Dec
08

The Finnish Santa

Somehow, and this is a few years back, I got talked into appearing as Christmas Eve Santa at an ex-girlfriend’s family gathering.

This Christmas Eve Santa wasn’t your typical Santa. I had to dress up in a costume that had been handed down for what must’ve been generations. The costume included an oversize, smelly faded-to-salmon overcoat, oversize rubber galoshes, a multi-coloured toque (knitted for Christmas Eve Santa by my ex, L., when she was a kid), and a face mask that made me look like a Santa in a slasher movie and which I could barely see out of. To top it all off, I was given a bag-full of toys to distribute, and a staff. This staff, L. told me, was for banging on the floor after dancing in a circle with the kids and handing out the gifts, as a gesture of goodbye. Then I was to leave, all without saying a word.

It was all part of the Finnish tradition, I was told. (L. is half-Finnish.)

The reason L. recruited me for this sucker job was that her nephew, the oldest of the kids (around 13—L. told me later she and her cousins were getting visits from Christmas Eve Santa into their 20s), was becoming suspicious that it was a family member dressing up as Santa. So they had to bring in someone from outside the family.

At the appointed time, I drove over and parked a block away from the house. This was so none of the kids, waiting for Santa, would see Santa arrive in a car. It was a cold night and the road was icy as I walked, barely able to see from behind the mask, barely able to walk in the oversize galoshes, carrying a bag of gifts in one hand and my staff in the other, towards the house.

The door opened, and I was ushered in. The kids looked up in awe. I could barely breathe, never mind see. I reached into the bag and began pulling out the first things that came to hand. Finally the bag was empty and I put out my mittened hands and danced in a circle with the kids. I could see L. standing in the corner, and trying not to laugh. I’d had enough. I broke off from the circle, and struck the staff on the floor a bunch of times as per instructions. It had bells on it. (Later, L. critiqued my performance, saying I hadn’t banged the staff enough.) Santa was leaving again for another year, trying to walk on ice to the Ford Escort, er, sleigh, that awaited him…

When I got to my car, sweating and uncomfortable, I reached into my pocket to see what L.’s father had slipped me in the midst of the dance.  As I did, it fell and burst on the street. It had been a small bottle of vodka. I tore off the mask and toque, threw my staff and empty bag in the backseat, and drove off, having done my part in keeping up the myth of the Finnish Santa for another year.


2 Responses to “The Finnish Santa”


  1. 1 Anne Papais
    December 18, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    This is SO hilarious, Shawnster, you had me rolling on the floor. It brought back many memories! All of them good ones, I have to say. Its a factual story of the Finnish Santa tradition.

  2. 2 Anne Papais
    December 18, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    This is SO hilarious, Shawn, you had me rolling on the floor. It brought back many memories! All of them good ones, I have to say. Its a factual story of the Finnish Santa tradition.


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