Santa in Mexico

After Christmas is over this Santa heads south of the border to San Felipe, Baja, Mexico for the winter. His winter home is located on a lot on the Sea of Cortes, about 7 miles from the town of San Felipe. San Felipe is a fishing village of about 19,000 people and is actually a part of the Municipality of Mexicali, 100 miles north San Felipe. Many days he can watch dolphins playing and hunting in the sea or see sea lions fishing and laying about. One time he even saw a pair of whales playing right off his coast.

One of his favorite meals while down there is the Sea of Cortes Blue Shrimp, quite large and when done on a grill they are quite tasty. He has a shrimp vendor whose name is Mauricio who sells his shrimp from the back of his broken down truck in one of the nearby strip mall. Mauricio speaks a little English and one day asked Santa to come visit the children in his neighborhood. His home is in one of the poorest of the poor sections of San Felipe, named El Arroyo for the fact that it is built in a large arroyo area in town. The homes are made of pallets, cardboard and tarps. Some have old broken down RV’s or if they are lucky a cement block structure. Mauricio and I worked out a date and time for the visit because I wanted to see as many children at one time as possible. I had a lot of mini candy canes left from Christmas so I packed those up, put on my summer suit, asked Mrs Claus if she wanted to go and we set off for El Arroyo. Upon arrival we noticed about 2 dozen children all dressed up in their Sunday finest waiting in the dusty street for me. Their moms were there with cell phones for cameras. Seems no matter how poor you are you have a cell phone and a dish TV in your home. They had a broken down chair that I gingerly sat down in. Then I asked them in Spanish to make a line and come see me for “dulces” and a photo. At first they were quite shy because they had never seen Santa before. What is common for us in the states is a rarity for them in Mexico. Once the first few came then the rest got in line, laughing and giggling at the gringo with the big white beard that they wanted to touch but only a few had the nerve to do. I gave them the candy canes, took pictures wIMG_0388 (1)ith them and then noticed that more children were .That afternoon I think I saw a total of maybe 3-4 dozen children. That afternoon, once I was home and had the chance to think about what had happened, tears came running down the cheeks of this 70 year old fat guy. You see I was raised in a similar situation when I was about 4-7 years old. This Santa lived in New Hampshire with his brother, mom and step dad in a tarpaper 3 room shack, no running water, no inside toilets, just a kitchen and dining area in one room and 2 bedrooms. I thought about how far I had come in my life and how God has blessed me to be able to have this life-style and be able to put smiles on the faces of even the poorest of the poor. I thank God for giving me this calling.IMG_0377

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Not Always what you expect

On the 27th I was part of the tree lighting at Palladio Mall in Folsom, California. I love this mall, it is all outdoors and set up like an old village. The Christmas tree is in the center and surrounded by walkways on all 4 sides. I had my 2 elves with me and was walking thru the crowds, posing for photos. The crowd was quite large, maybe 2000 people. There were numerous little faces there whose parents wanted their children to have photos with Santa. I was due to be on stage at 5:50 to read Twas the Night before Christmas to the crowd and to do the countdown for the tree lighting at 6 pm. That meant I had to keep track of time, not stop long in the crowd because a line immediately forms and we would be disappointing lots of little children who could not meet Santa. So as I was moving thru the crowd, I ran across my Dr., Dr. Jason Trummer, he was there with is lovely daughter Bella and her little brother. Thank you Dr for referring me to the dermatologist Dr. Van Dyke. Great guy, yes it was cancerous, but is now under control. As I stepped away from Dr. Trummer a middle aged woman, maybe in her early 50’s came out of the crowd, put her arms around me and whispered in my ear that she wanted a divorce for Christmas. My police background immediately surfaced and I asked her of she was ok. No physical abuse?, No mental abuse, No.. she had lived with him for 30 years and he was an a…h… and wanted out. I told her that there were things that even Santa could not do, but I knew someone who could and pointed skywards. She said she knew and had been praying and hoped God was listening. Then just as quickly as she had appeared, she disappeared into the crowd. Sort of took the fun and festivity off the evening… or at least until I saw the next beaming little face. Thank you Lord for allowing me to be the man in the red 31151449142_fdccbfd2d8_z

Santa’s Tears

 

It is a beautiful morning here, the sun is shining, birds are singing, BUT as I write this Santa’s heart is breaking, tears are running down my cheeks in buckets, for you see I just received a message from Chloe’s grandma, the little girl in the video, that Chloe had just passed away. Chloe was the most positive and precocious little child that I had ever met. You may remember me telling you about meeting her at Sweet Tomatoes in Lady Lake, Florida last year. The world will miss Chloe and that big grin of hers. … Parents please.. tell your children how much you love them, hug them every day and let them know that you truly care for them. Chloe is now in heaven and is now painfree.

March 22, 2016 I took Mrs Claus to our favorite eating place here in Lady Lake, Florida, Sweet Tomatoes. There was a young lady, maybe 10 years old who would occasionally sneak a peek over at me. So, I got up and went over to her table, as I was approaching, her dad gave me a big thumbs up. The girl, who I later learned was named Chloe, turned and looked up at me with the biggest grin I have ever seen. Lord I needed that today. So I gave her a coin and told her I would see her Christmas eve. I went back to my table and sat down. A few minutes later Mom, Dad and Chloe came over to our table. Chloe asked me if she could have a picture with me. Why of course. After dad took the picture he proceeded to tell me that Chloe had been diagnosed with brain cancer on Christmas Eve of 2009. Chloe proudly told me to check You Tube for Chloe’s wedding day. A video that had been made about her. I watched the video and my heart has been restored. I write this as ninja’s are cutting onions somewhere above my eyes. The below article about her appeared in the Orlando Sentinel

 

November 23, 2013 By Elira Benavari, Correspondent

LEESBURG — Like most third-grade girls, Chloe Williams loves to play with Barbies, ride her bike and swim with her friends. But unlike other 8-year-olds, Chloe already has endured four brain surgeries for cancerous tumors that keep coming back.

She underwent a clinical trial at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis and is now involved with another clinical trial that opened up in Orlando at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children with the physician who has been on Chloe’s case.

“She is so strong, and the reason she is here is because of the fight in her,” said her dad, Mark Williams. “She received her first treatment there on Tuesday and she is doing well so far.”

Williams, his wife, Michelle and her son Zachari, 15, have been helping Chloe battle her illness since her first surgery in 2009.

“When we were told, the initial shock was so hard to take, but we had to get out of that mode. Each day we handle what comes,” said her mom, Michelle Williams. “Even though we are scared and do not know what the outcome will be, we have to keep on going.”

Williams said the first tumor was discovered when the family, which lives south of Leesburg, was spending a fun day together at Universal Studios in Orlando and Chloe fell ill. After a trip to the emergency room, she went home, but in the morning, she awoke with crossed eyes and was having difficulty walking.

The family returned to the hospital where more tests revealed a mass on her brain. Doctors at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children scheduled an immediate surgery. It was Christmas Eve 2009 when the family learned Chloe’s tumor was malignant. The tumor came back three times in the first six months following surgery.

“The first time, it was the size of a lemon and kept coming back larger even after 62 days of radiation and now, after two years of chemotherapy,” Mark Williams said.

In 2012, the family thought Chloe had finally beaten the cancer when doctors declared her in a state of remission, but in March, the tumor returned. Most of Chloe’s summer was spent in Memphis receiving treatment.

While Chloe tries to keep upbeat while attending Grassy Lake Elementary, her parents grapple with financial difficulties. Williams, a Navy veteran who fought in Operation Desert Storm, had been working in The Villages but was laid off in March and has been unable to find a job. Michelle Williams was in nursing school but had to take a hiatus to look after her daughter. They’ve had a lot of quality time together.

“Chloe is a whole ball of personality — she is sweet and funny and is an awesome little girl,” Michelle said.

The family is looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving at home. A few days later, thanks to a gift, the family will get to visit Chloe’s grandfather in North Carolina, who she has not seen for five years.

The family has created a website, http://www.teamchloe.org, where they accept donations and explain the rare type of cancer, whose tumors are called ependymomas.

 

Santa for all Ages

This morning was a travel day morning. We are heading west and then south to California. I got up at 6:30 to take Sophie our dog out and then figured that I could come back, sit in my favorite lounger for an hour and still have plenty of time to get the necessary items done. So, awake at 7:15, bagged up tha garbage and as I stepped out the door I heard a tiny “Good morning Santa” I looked around but initially did not see the owner of the voice. The voice belonged to a 2, maybe 2 and 1/2 year old little girl. she was with her Grandma and aunt. The aunt was pulling a small red wagon with the little girls brother seated in it. The child had huge blue eyes and blonde hair, she was already dressed and wanting to face the day. She repeated, “Good morning Santa”, “well good morning to you my child”, both the grandma and the aunt let out a giggle. I turned to the grandma and asked if I might give her granddaughter a gift, with the word gift the girl’s little ears perked up. Grandma said “yes and she has been a really good child this trip”. I made a big production of reaching in my pocket and removing my coin purse, the whole while I was under the eye of the little girl. I found a bright pink coin and gave it to her and told her it said ” You have been caught being good by me so I think you should have this”. She took the coin and immediately showed it to her grandma who suggested that it go in the child’s dress pocket so as not to lose it. There was a split rail fence separating the two of us, but the child ducked under the fence and gave me a big hug. Then they were on their way to breakfast and I headed out to finish my tasks. WHAT A WAY TO START MY MORNING.

Another Encounter

So, I took Mrs Claus to lunch at a restaurant we knew from prior visits to Elkhart, The Cock a Doodle Restaurant. When I walked in I noticed a 4-5 year old girl point at me and tell her mom, “Santa is here “. I looked right at her and gave her the shush sign and winked at her. We got our table and ordered our brunch. Mom gets up and brings the little girl to our table. She excused herself for interupting our lunch and said that her daughter really wanted to meet me. So, I had her come over, talked to her a bit and gave her a coin. Well, right behind me was another table with a 3 year old girl and an older , maybe 6 years old, brother. Once they saw that I was giving out coins, they wanted one too.
We finished our meals and while at the counter to pay I noticed that the mother was behind me. She said her daughter wanted to say good-bye to me. I paid the bill, went over to say good-bye and remind her to go to bed early Christmas eve and to listen to mom and grandma. As I walked away she YELLED,” Good-bye Santa”. I turned and waved and noticed that everyone in the joint was looking at me and smiling. I love being the fat guy.

He’s a child.

I just reviewed an online course about meeting children with autism. I had almost forgotten about an encounter I had this past season in Orlando. I had forgotten because I viewed this youngster as a child and not one with a handicap. I met him while I was walking a mall as Santa.  When he came up to me he stood there and just looked at me. It took me a few seconds to recognize what was happening. I  dropped into a squat and looked at him for a few seconds, gave him a big smile, dropped my eyes and spoke to him in  a low voice. I told him he had grown some since I saw him Christmas eve, almost so that I didn’t recognize him. I told him I knew he was trying real hard to be good and that I would see him again this Christmas. In the meanwhile, his mom is behind him telling me that he is nonverbal and not to expect a response. As I stood to leave I noticed a movement towards me, I dropped back into a squat just in time to receive a huge, hard hug. I returned the hug. He immediately backed off, I stood to go and his mom mouthed “thank you”. I left there with tears on my cheeks. Children can really bring out your emotions.

“Santa, Santa, I know you, I know you”

My whole family went out to dinner one evening just before Christmas. I was wearing my red bib overalls and a long sleeved white shirt with monogrammed initials, SC. As we walked in to Scipolini’s restaurant on a Tuesday night, there was a big party in one section, as I walked by I heard, “Santa, Santa, I know him, I know him “, I looked in on the party and there was an adult in an elf hat complete with ears, I yelled back, “Buddy, Buddy, I know you, I know you, ” this prompted all the children in the room to come running and all the adults to crack up laughing. I love it when adults relate to Santa as well. There were several children who came over to get coins while we waited to be seated. My little granddaughter Jocelyn would position herself between me and the other child as if to say “ this is my Santa “ , loved it.

Christmas eve. 3 visits that evening, including a local TV celebrity, the night was a resounding success. The first house comment was, “the guy we had last year was not 1/4 as good as you are, we want you next year”, the second house said “you are the best Santa we have EVER had in the 16 years that we have been doing this, we want you next year” this was the local TV celebrity saying this, at the 3rd house, same thing. The 3rd house actually sent me a note via e-mail and told me that they were going to forego a visit from Santa in 2016 because they didn’t want to ruin it for the children by not having me. I had explained to them that I would be in the east in 2015. Thank you all

So Christmas of 2014 came to an end and it was time to head out to our winter home in Mexico.

One evening we went to Playa Azul restaurant for dinner, as I’m eating my quesadilla con carne 4 women and a small boy came in. The boy was really staring at me. I gave him a wave. They went into the next room and I noticed he was talking to a woman who appeared to be his mom. One of the other women came out and told me his name was Caden and that he thought I was Santa. She said he was being extra good at dinner. I went in, pulled up a chair next to him and said “Hi Caden, how are you, are you being good?” We had a brief conversation because he had that look of awe on his face. I then showed him several pictures and elicited a promise from him that he would be a good boy for Mom. As I came back to sit down, several of the customers chimed in, “Great job Santa”. Before we left I said goodbye to him and got a handshake, or rather a finger shake from him. Life is good.

Mexico goes all out for Holy Week, Semana Santa. I was sitting down at Grace’s, our landlady for our campo, with the family and Little Annie, maybe 5, comes up to me and says, “Santa, tienes mas dulces?” Do you have more candy? Now this is a little girl who has had 3 operations on her chest area for heart problems. I said “uno momento” I went back to the coach and found some candy canes from Christmas. I had ordered 1000 of them and had maybe 300 left. I put them in a red bag and went back to the house. All the children saw the red bag and came over. Each child got 2 canes since they are the small ones. I then walked the campo and handed out the rest of the bag to other children. There were lots of photos taken.

 

So

Roseville Fire Dept and Toys are US

One day, just before Christmas, we were at Toys R Us, while loading presents in the Jeep a lady approached and asked for a photo with Santa, I NEVER refuse a photo. After the photo I gave her my card, told her about my public calendar on FB and said Merry Christmas.

I received this in my e-mail;

Dear Santa,

I just wanted to thank you for taking time from your busy schedule yesterday as you loaded up toys at Toys R Us. See, I believe there are no chance meetings. . . Yesterday was a very heart breaking, sad day for me. Until I saw Santa! Joy filled my heart and made my day! I shared the selfie we took together with my grandchildren, my granddaughter Lilli, 9 yrs said “wow it really is Santa!” I just want you to know that seeing Santa in the community at Christmas time really does bring a smile and make a person happy. Thank you again Santa Claus. Merry Christmas to you and your family. 
♡Dustin

Ps. Please Give my thanks to Mrs. Claus

People are truly awesome.

I was hired to do a 20 minutes bus ride from one stop to another for a group of seniors going to a mystery dinner. It would be on 2 days, Sat and Sunday. I boarded the bus in my suit and told them how Santa came to be, told them about St. Nicolas and then posed for pictures. I had a 94 year old lady sit in my lap for pictures. God Bless her, can you imagine the things she has seen in her lifetime?

The next day I repeated the same trip. The only difference was, one of the older women actually pinched my butt.

So, I was hired to be Santa for the Roseville Fire Dept. What made it really come home was that the fireman who hired me was the cousin of Walt Kubas, a great guy that I used to work with at San Jose BNE. I was to come in on the hook and ladder truck and depart on the same. Markus was my elf and got to ride in the cab that controls the ladder. There were maybe 30 children there. It was a great day and special because I got to meet some of Walt’s family. Walt had passed away a few years before.

Not Mine, but a Sad Day

As you have seen it is not all laughs and joy for Santas. We are faced with some circumstances that hurt our souls, The below happened to a fellow Santa whom I know.

THIS IS MY FRIEND SANTA BOB MCMASTER’S DAY, NOT MINE.

Well it was a very tough day emotionally today as a Santa and for my crew ( Elves ) on the photo set.

I came home tonight and have been posting great pictures to help lift my spirits and get my mind off of the day it was.

I must share my thoughts with all of you about our day at work this Sunday 11/30/14.

The morning started off with a line of excited children with their families waiting for Santa as he arrived on set. The day was off to a fast start and went great through lunch. After lunch another line had formed. As we worked our way through the afternoon I had a moment between the printing of pictures for a quick hello to an Hispanic Family who was standing outside my set waiving. I then noticed the little girl that was sitting in one of the Mall rental strollers that looks like a Fire Engine. She was frail and wearing a mask. I went over to chat with them and the little girl, about 6 or 7 years of age, was very weak so I asked her if she felt ok. Her father explained she has terminal cancer. About that time I get a tap on the shoulder from behind and it was my set manager. She tells me she needs to talk to me. She then tells me that next in line is a Grand Mother with her 3 Grand Children. She says that Grandma wants Santa to try and cheer up the children. I said ok and my set manager then explains that the children lost their mother in a tragic car accident this week. The oldest, a young man about 12 years old, along with his sister about 10 and younger sibling, another young man about 7.  So Santa asked them to his big green chair … the young lady first and Santa asked her if she was doing ok. With tears in her eyes she says yes. I told her I was sorry for her loss and I knew her mother loved her and was proud of her and I gave her a long heart felt hug as she started crying. Santa is suppose to be strong but at that moment I went to pieces. Then the brothers came over to my chair and wiping away tears I told them their mother was in a great place in Jesus’ arms and I was sure she was missing them as much as they missed her. I said that they too some day would all be reunited in time. I told them to hold her memory close to their hearts. The Grand Mother gave Santa a long embrace as she began crying. As they left Santa broke down and had to go kneel down behind my big green chair and cry and cry as I said a prayer for this grieving Grand Mother who had just lost her Daughter and for the 3 children who was stripped of the life and love of their mother. During this time my whole set crew was also in tears and then they came to my side and comforted me with hugs. I composed myself and then looked up to realize the Hispanic Family had decided to have pictures with Santa. I sat in my chair as they propped up the young lady with terminal cancer in my lap, who was so weak and frail that she was having trouble even sitting up. I held onto her tight as the brothers and parents got into the pose. I was having a very hard time trying to smile while tears ran down my face.. We all sat there knowing this was probably her last picture and that was her wish … to have a picture with Santa and her family. Again as my crew took the pictures and gathered around we all was in tears again knowing she would probably not make it to CHRISTmas. As they left, again I broke down and had to take about 10 minutes to gather myself up and continue my day, knowing others were in line to see Santa and get pictures. Back to back tear-jerkers was the toughest day as Santa I have ever had and God was there to give me the strength to carry on. I was emotionally drained but carried on as I should. It is still the only 2 things on my mind as I sit here with my family tonight. Folks, love those dearest to your hearts every moment of every day for God could call any of us home at any given time. Be sure and hug your loved ones tonight and let them know how much they mean to you as I have with a broken heart for both of the families God sent to me today. I love my role as Santa and know there will be days like today that are not so easy. I love each and every one of you and thank you for letting me share my sorrow with you. Santa Bob McMasters… forever grateful.

Back to my day;

The 2014 season was a very rewarding one, Home and worn out, cup of hot coffee, wow, The first appearance was at Melton Financial, 1 hour, GREAT group of people, held at La Provence Restaurant in Roseville. A lady came over and sat in my lap, when I asked her what she wanted she said “nothing for me, I want something for you” in my 10 years as Santa I’ve not heard that, “ok” says I ” what might that be”, she said ” I want you to stay healthy this season so that you can still bring joy to the children

First appearance of 2014

One night we were at “The Fountains ” mall after dinner, the whole family, went for ice cream. I noticed this little boy, maybe 5-6 staring at me as he approached the ice cream store. When he got to where we were I looked at him and said “Yes I am”, his parents laughed because he had just told them, “look it’s Santa”. I reached in my pocket and pulled out the little bag that I carry, in the bag are coins that say ” I caught you being good” and I told him, “I have something for you, It says I caught you being good, now you have to be a good boy and listen to your parents till Christmas” As I walked away and looked over my shoulder I saw his face was just beaming and he was telling his parents ” It was really him”…. My children said, “Dad will you knock it off”? I love being the fat guy.

My first job of the 2014 season was a photo-shoot it was outdoors at Frasenetti Winery in Sacramento. I met 3 of the greatest little children, Payton, a little girl age 3, Lucas age 7 and Carter age 9… oops almost forgot Color, their elf on the shelf. After photos and gifts and stories Lucas came over and whispered in my ear that his dog had just died. I told him I knew Pluto and that he was now in doggie heaven. He could not believe that I knew his dog’s name. What a great family. Thank you Michelle and Eric Brown for the opportunity to meet your children.

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One day I was just finishing my lunch at Carolina’s, a Mexican restaurant in Roseville when the soldier walks up and says” I’m sorry to interrupt your lunch, but would you mind taking a photo with me?” “I’d be honored” says I. Well then all 4 wanted individual shots and a group photo. What a great honor for me. I love our men and women in uniform.

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