Santa Jay

I love making Santa suits. Most folks are surprised to learn that I make them all year long. In many cases, when I go to build a Santa suit, it has been several weeks or months since the initial consultation. In those instances, I will talk with the Santa the week before to go over my notes and make sure that I’m not missing anything. As I tell them, “We’ve all slept since then!”

In one particular circumstance, Santa Jay (not his real name) indicated that he had lost a great deal of weight and he wanted me to measure him again before I cut anything. So, we set an appointment for that as well as to go over my notes. When he came to visit me, I could tell that he had been sick–really sick. Not only had he lost a great deal of weight, but his skin was extremely pale and papery, there was no twinkle in his eyes, and his breathing was labored.

I am always there to listen to my clients for whatever they may want to tell me, but I never press for information. Santa Jay didn’t want to share anything beyond the fact that he’d been sick, so I stayed professional, taking the measurements and going over the notes. His parting comment, however, was that he thought it might be his last year as Santa.

After he left, I sat in my studio chair at my sewing machine and just sobbed. Working with mostly older folk in the Christmas performer industry, I know losing a client is definitely a job hazard, but I admit that I’m a bit of a sentimental wardrobe elf and I get VERY attached to my clients. Thus, I was determined to make sure that his final season was a spectacular one, at least in terms of his uniform.

When I went shopping for the lining, I found a really awesome bit of fabric to incorporate–same thing with the trim and the buttons. The old saying that the devil is in the details is true, but it’s also the delight as well. Excited about my project, I threw myself into it with more than my usual gusto and sang to it sweetly about all the lives he would touch this season.

As is my habit, I sent him progress pictures and showed him the lining that I had found as well as the trim. His response was that it looked so good he wanted to be buried in it.

Heavy sigh and lots more tears. Dry off face and paste on determined look. Whatever he was going to do with his suit, he would be one spectacular looking Santa. PERIOD.

I finished my project in a few days and invited him back to try everything on. His breathing was still labored. His pallor was still there, but the twinkle had returned to his eyes.

I helped him into the robe and hat, and he smiled at himself in the mirror. I saw a bit of the old spark come back. He turned this way and that, admiring his reflection, and then turned to me with a big smile and asked if I would put him on my sewing list for next year.

In that moment, I felt the balloon of hope inflate inside me. In my head, I was jumping up and down and fist pumping, but the only outward display of said hope was the smile I returned to him. Perhaps he’d found his reason to fight. I don’t know. I’m not going to take credit for that, but I do hope that he’s around for many more seasons to bring joy and magic to children of all ages.

Until next time, dear readers. May your bobbins be full and your seams be straight!


Conferences … for Santa?

Conferences have become ubiquitous in our culture. Whatever interests you, not only are there groups where you can meet other folks with the same interests, but they usually hold semi-regular conferences on said interests.

Folks usually assume that I attend bridal conferences. I went to a few but quickly discovered that my alteration services weren’t something brides were focused on at that point. Additionally, most folks looking for a custom gown don’t attend those sorts of conferences.

Instead, I attend Santa Claus conferences. Yes, you read that right. I regularly hang out with 300-600 guys with white beards who wear red clothes of all types. And if you’re thinking, “That’s got to be surreal!” you would be correct.

Santa conferences are a lot of fun. Most of the guys and gals are indeed jolly, and they love to talk and tell stories. I love listening to the stories of the kids they meet. There are awesome stories–like when they get to tell kids they are being adopted by their foster parents–and there are the heart wrenching ones—such as when they visit terminal cancer patients. They see all of humanity. Those that take their roles seriously have huge hearts and deep souls. They truly feel for the people they touch, and you can hear it in their voices when they talk.

A lot of them know me now and bring their friends over to meet me and get a custom suit made. It’s fun to make a suit unique to a Santa and his market. The devil is always in the details, but that’s also where the fun is. Each gentleman brings something unique to the role, and I like to reflect that in the clothes I create.

If you’ve read my blog “What Christmas Means to Me,” then you know how much working with these folks means to me. I get to be a part of thousands of children’s happiness through these amazing men and women.

I get to truthfully say that I make magic for a living.

Until next time Dear Readers, may all your bobbins be full and all your seams be straight.