Being an A-game Santa is a serious business. Meet Dan Greenleaf — teacher, agent and independent coach of all things jolly. Want your own booking agent ? Need to polish up your Ho Ho Hos ? Are you an aspiring elf or Mrs. Clause looking for training? Contact this Super Santa and up your game. Summer camps or even personal consults beckon. Greenleaf also represents some 200 swell-bellied, bearded men, elves and Mrs. Clauses, keeping them all pretty much merry during a short but surprisingly lucrative season. So, don your gay apparel, and you’d better not pout. This guy’s coming to town.
- The idea of becoming a professional Santa didn’t come until I was in my late 50s. A friend asked if I’d be Santa for an elementary school staff party.
- She thought my personality and Santa looks would add some fun to the gathering. And she had some funds available to pay me.
- I created imsanta.org and started looking for Santa Claus work. In addition to making personal appearances, I also offered personalized letters, phone calls, instant messaging, Skype calls and even autographed photos from Santa.
- My wife of 50 years, Diana, often joins me as Mrs. Claus.
- Of course, looking like Santa all the time comes with responsibilities. When folks see you as Santa, you have to behave as Santa.
- I have to watch my language in public. I have had to tone down my dissatisfaction with officials’ calls at sporting events. I can’t flip off a driver who cuts me off in traffic (especially when my license plate is IMSANTA).
- Being Santa Claus has made me a quieter, calmer, better person.
- When I see an excited child whisper to a parent, “That’s Santa!” my response is often a grin and a wink, sometimes with my finger to my lips to keep our secret.
- I carry a pocketful of wooden “Nice List” nickels. When I’m spotted and spoken to, I give the child the coin, explaining it lets the elves know we met and they are on the Nice List.
- And for the parents, I tell the child if they are naughty, they have to give the coin to Mom or Dad and earn it back by being good again. That’s my gift to the parents.
- It’s not just kids who recognize Santa. I get adults who will call out, “Santa, why didn’t I get the new car/boyfriend/million dollars I asked for?” My answer is simple: “You know why.”
- It’s always good for a laugh.
- Someone will say, “You know who you look like?” My response: “Oh, yeah. Chris Hemsworth. I get that all the time.”
- After limited in-person events and many virtual visits last year, we are expecting Santa will be very busy this year. We will still be doing some virtual visits, specifically for hospitals, but most want Santa back in person.
Summoning Saint Nick
The Santa we all know and love owes a debt of gratitude to New Hampshire — he might still be dropping gifts (or lumps of coal) into children’s shoes if not for Newport’s Sarah Josepha Hale. She popularized the Christmas tree in her Godey’s Lady’s Book magazine in 1860. Her image of a decorated tree surrounded by a family, based upon the seasonal styling of England’s royalty Victoria and Albert, gripped the imagination of American women, and such scenes soon became the heart of the holidays (and a perfect place for Saint Nick to leave piles of presents).
Here are some ways to add a little more Santa to your Christmas this year:
imsanta.org – Greenleaf’s Santa booking company
facebook.com/NorthPoleCoach – personalized Santa-related consulting and training
facebook.com/NESantas – New England Santa Society