The Half-Naked Santa
By Jody Worsham,
All rights reserved to clothe the other half
The five-year-old was cast as Santa in the school Christmas program. Yes, this little public school can say Merry Christmas and have a Christmas program without going through 27 pages of protocol to make sure they don't offend anyone; rare, but true.
He was especially excited because he got to say his lines into a microphone. I hauled out the microphone and amp at home and he practiced. "Rudolph with your nose so bright, won't you guide my sleigh tonight." He opted to say the words rather than sing them; a decision we all supported.
I cut his beard out of quilt batting and secured it to the sides of his hat and got him in his costume for a quick check. I felt like putting a name tag on his costume because otherwise, no one would ever know who he was. He was completely covered in a red suit, hat, and beard. I had him say his lines to make sure the beard would not muffle his words. Yes, this Santa was definitely going to be heard.
Now having subbed in kindergarten one whole day but taught high school students for a long, long time, I knew the kids needed to see him in his beard before the performance. "What if they laugh," he asked. I honestly told him, "They will laugh but not at you but because they haven't seen many five-year-olds with a beard. Ok, they have never seen a five-year-old in a beard but laughing is good. It means they are happy." I don't think he bought that for a minute.
The children did laugh, but not at his beard. The pillow I had used at first for Santa's stuffing was too big and heavy so I had taken his sister's white tutu and pinned it to his t-shirt for padding. It was light weight, fluffy, and, I thought, a clever solution to the padding problem. They only saw a boy with a tutu pinned to his shirt. Something else for him to talk about when he's in therapy
I watched part of the dress rehearsal for the Christmas program or what I thought was the Christmas program. Eighty kindergarten children on a stage at the same time could be doing anything and were. I think they were in the process of re-writing the program and disregarding anything the teachers had planned. Some children were engaged in a calypso type number while others, dressed as cheerleaders, were having a major discussion on the order of letters in the world T-R-E-E-S. At least they weren't trying to spell H-E-L-L-O. I could just see Miss O deciding she wanted to be at the head of the line and the whole program going from G rated to R for language. Everyone got over their giggles at Santa's beard and stuffing. I made a mental note to get BIG bars of chocolate for the teachers.
Performance night arrived and I hustled Santa with his beard firmly pinned to his Santa hat to his classroom. There amongst assorted angels, cheerleaders, human Christmas trees, and I can only assume various mini-sized delegates to the UN, I deposited Santa. I then raced to the caf-a-gym-na-torium to get a good folding chair.
I looked for the kindergarten teachers. If they were highly visible to the audience, I could expect a good show. I noticed four people huddled together against the side wall in heavy trench coats, hats, and sunglasses. They were mumbling something about "Only … eleven days …..till the… Christmas break. I can do this…I..can do this…." Oh, boy.
The program began. After a near fight, the "head cheerleader", got T-R-E-E-S spelled correctly on the stage and the audience applauded. I'm not sure if the applause was for the head cheerleader's leadership skills or that they spelled trees correctly.
The introductory music for "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" began and all my cameras were aimed at Santa. The big moment had arrived. Santa stepped up to the microphone, but the microphone was still set for the two foot tall cheerleader. Santa was at least three feet six inches tall, not quite ready to ditch the booster seat. He would never be heard, I thought. Not to worry, Santa belted out his lines right through the tutu stuffing and batten beard. No need for a mic for this future Thespian! I was so proud!
After the program I went back to the classroom to get Santa. That's when his teacher told me to leave all of his costume on the table; there was another performance in the morning. Fortunately I had put shorts on Santa to wear under his red pants but that still left him shirtless. To his credit, he did not want me to take his shirt off in front of the cheerleaders who had launched into another chant "Take it off, Take it off, Take it off!" Fashioning my puffy coat into a make-shift dressing room, the tutu attached t-shirt came off and I put my big purple coat on the half-naked Santa. He looked like the guy wearing the purple grapes in the Fruit-of-the-Loom commercial. More material for the therapist!
On the way home, I gushed praise on the half-naked Santa in the hope that it would counteract any emotional scars my creativity had heaped upon him. I didn't think it wise to show him the DVD when we got home.
There's only so much a former short-bearded-tutu-stuffed-Santa-stripper can handle in one night.