When I was a child, my mom was very creative at finding very low or no cost ways to entertain us. I have some awesome childhood memory of lots of fun adventures and Christmas was no exception.
One year at the local high school, they were having an event. If you brought a can of non-perishable food for the local food bank there were different Christmas activities and crafts that you could participate in. I am not sure how old I was at the time, but guessing now, I would say about seven or eight (So maybe around 1992 or 1993?). The one craft I remember making was a Christmas ornament for our tree. I believe that there was some foil paper and pipe cleaners involved, but I know for sure that there was a picture of each of us with Santa in the middle.
The reason being, the Santa at this particular event was a high school student that happened to be black. I don’t know who he was, but he has since been immortalized in our tree and has become a very dear part of our Christmas. I don’t know his name, or really much about him at all, but I do remember him being kind and sweet. Looking back, he seemed very excited to be playing the role!
Having grown up in a fairly homogenous wonderbread community, and having seen the pre-requisite Santa movies and books, it had never occurred to me that Santa could be black. However, after a complex ponder on the subject, my young brain couldn’t think of a reason why Santa couldn’t be black.
Santa is one of my favorite ideas. I love Christmas, and I love Santa even now. Maybe it is because my birthday is so near to the holiday. Maybe it’s because I am still a child at heart who wants to believe that there is magic and goodness in the world. I think that we could all do to believe that there is a little magic in the world. To believe that there is a couple who live in a secret land, who only want to bring joy to children. All children deserve to have a little joy, and who couldn’t use a little magic.
So, thank you to all the Santa’s out there. The people who go above and beyond during this season to make sure we all get a little Merry and Bright. To the high school kids who put on a fun event for us kids, thank you. Most importantly, thank you Black Santa. Thank you for stepping up to bring joy to us children in the early 90’s. Thank you for not being afraid to say, “I’ll dress up as Santa.” Thank you for the people in my community, who didn’t say “Oh, yeah no that’s not going to work.” Thank you for opening my eyes at a young age that just because you always picture something one way, it does not mean that is the way it has to be. And thank you for being a part of my Christmas Tree and traditions for over twenty years. You may not even remember that night, but we remember you every time we decorate our tree!