Watching a TV commercial, I was struck by my expectations of Santa Claus. The commercial showed a man crouched with his back to the camera in a Santa suit. Right away I got a warm feeling inside; there was a slight smile on my lips; my eyes felt brighter and bigger waiting for the pay off. The guy stands and turns around; it is just a man in a Santa suit. He is so not what I was looking - hoping for. His face did not have a rosy glow, it was not beautiful, angelic or cherub like. He did not have pinchable cheeks or a sparkle in his eye. He was not warm, round and cuddly and his hair and beard were not snow white. I cannot tell you how thoroughly disappointed I felt. Really could would have thought such a simple image would matter but I really wanted to see him!
The preservation of historic iconic characters (even or especially fictional icons) should be sacrosanct (ridunkulous!!!) But that one figure for me, conjured up a happy place, a happy time, great and fond memories. It evoked the past in a way that is undeniably good. Nuts, fruits, horrible Christmas candies, visiting cousins and long days out of school and playing in the snow. No matter that this iconic figure never existed (and really who can prove that?) he carries an entire non-existent history. A history where snow lies soft and beautiful on the ground, the night skies are full of stars, jingle bells ring somewhere in the distance and houses are filled with light. It’s a big job for a little man in a suit but someone should always do it - but someone should always do it right, too!.
I'm reminded of Dan Akroyd in "Trading Places" another bad, bad Santa. Image is so important.