The documentary that helped me find my Christmas spirit.
I’d made an effort this year to avoid the Christmas cliche movies. I’m proud to say I haven’t watched a wink of Lifetime or ABC Family unless it’s a Rankin Bass classic. Wrapping up my Christmas movies and keeping up with finding something new, I watched the documentary Becoming Santa.
And let me tell you, I have found my Christmas spirit.
After discovering a photo of his late father dressed as Santa, Jack Sanderson decides to become Santa Claus to find the Christmas spirit he no longer possesses. It’s not as simple as throwing on a red suit and heading to the mall. Jack visits a special tailor for his suit. He bleaches his beard and hair. He attends a Santa seminar to learn how to answer questions, shout “Ho Ho Ho!”, make a paper snowflake, apply the make-up for those rosy cheeks, and pose with unruly children for pictures. The training adds some laughs (especially Jack’s awesome narration/interviews throughout), but when Jack finally begins his role as Santa for the children, your face lights up.
When kids see Santa their faces light up with joy. I had that same grin seeing this man make the children so happy.
There’s an element of magic about Christmas that disappears once you know the truth about Santa. I still love surprising my family with gifts and spending time with them, but the holiday changes when you’re an adult without kids. My friends are starting to have kids and I never gave thought to the excitement this holiday is going to bring when the magic of Santa is in the air. As the documentary discusses, we keep the magic of Santa alive by believing as a kid and passing this tradition onto the children.
I think we laugh and snicker at mall Santas, but for many of these men it’s not just a job. It’s a calling.
Now here’s where I got ridiculously excited during this doc. After his first gig in
New Jersey, Jack takes a job as the Santa Claus in the annual Quincy Holiday Parade. Quincy, Mass people and I live in Quincy! I live for this parade, mainly for the creepy costumed characters. So I could’ve cried tears of joy, but instead Instagrammed the crap out of pictures with Santa and the misfit characters of Quincy including Skinny Snowman, Red Bear, and Dirty Christmas Dragon. Another local twist: Brockton was home to the first mall Santa so we get a heavy-accented explanation from the owner of Tuxedo’s by Merian.
Skinny Snowman, I know him!
Becoming Santa was an absolute joy to watch from beginning to end. I found myself so invested and hoping that Jack wouldn’t give up being Santa, that one season wouldn’t be enough. The guy has got it. You even get a history lesson while watching hearing about the origins of St. Nick, the not-so-PC “helper” of Sinterklaas, and the various charities that help those in need. When your Christmas spirit tank is running on empty or maybe purely not caring at all, throw Becoming Santa into your Netflix Queue and try not to smile. I dare you.