• Heather Rawlings

Shhh . . . Santa is my dad!

Updated: Nov 2, 2020

Most people have a story about Santa. Mine may be a little different than yours. Just a little, Santa is my dad.

I was a teenager when I discovered that my dad was Santa. He had the bright red suit the fuzzy hat, black boots and belt. He had ruddy skin rosy cheeks and a full beard. It was a thing.

Most of the year, my dad was a contractor and would shut down his business for a couple of months during the holidays to do corporate, and private holiday parties. Each year, he would arrive on a boat to Seaport Village, San Diego the day after Thanksgiving. We were among some of the thousands that would greet him at the dock. It was magic. We would bring friends and have hot cocoa and celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season with Santa leading the way.

As I grew up, my friends started having children and wanted pictures with Santa Claus, so we began a tradition of our own Christmas party. It was just for family, clients, and a few close friends. That was nearly 27 years ago. My dad invited his clients and other contractors, my sister and I invited our friends and we always invited family to join us. It all took place in my dad's house in Orange County, CA and it was amazing!

We would have the local high school choir sing Christmas carols, the amazing Cat, the face painter, would bring her glitter and create the most amazing images on hands and faces. Of course, Santa's elves would be there as well, telling stories from the workshop.

What started as a very small gathering the Monday after Thanksgiving each year, grew into a tradition. We would see old friends, former clients, and family once a year without fail.

Years marched on and eventually, I got married and had my own children, and the Christmas party was something we prepared for months. (Literally!) Cookie baking began in early October and our freezer was always full of cookie dough and cookies. (Thousands of cookies) Our friends and family would invite their friends and family and most years, hundreds of people joined us.

Eventually, the party was so large that we started catering the event that originally was just sweets and hot cocoa, to more savory treats as well. Lots of food!! My sister and I still baked our signature sweets, but everyone started bringing food and gifts for Santa. It was a community of people that had this one thing in common, a love for Christmas.

Our friends brought their own cameras and cell phones to get a family photo with Santa, go into the back yard and grab a number for the face painter, and then wait to hear if they were on the naughty or nice list from Santa’s elves.

It didn’t matter where Santa was staying in Orange County, somehow, people found us and brought others. It was simply wonderful. After 26 years, my children were grown, and my dad was moving out of state so 2019 was the very last Annual Christmas party. I cried a lot that night after I got home, knowing that I would not see our community again like we had for so many years before. It was the end of this tradition.

I was so thankful for the memories, and the exceptional gift my dad gave to me and thousands of others over the years. So very thankful. (Thanks Dad!)

Welcome to 2020, and the world has gone nuts and now a world of virtual meetings and social distancing. To ease the pain of all the changes this past year, we thought we might bring back the tradition of the Santa visit with a twist, virtual Santa visits. SantaOnScreen was born and we are ready to see all of you and hear you read off your wish list. These are personalized visits as well, Santa will have intel on each visitor, that you can provide him!

We’d like to invite you to be a part of our community and celebrate the holiday with the beautiful tradition of Santa Claus. Come join us and let’s make beautiful memories together.

-Santa's littlest elf, Heather

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2019 - Santa, Cat and Roger the elf

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