All is Merry and Bright
Photos by Terry Massey
Lakelife Magazine was pleasantly surprised to learn that Santa Claus was recently on Lake Oconee enjoying a weekend of rest and relaxation just before his hectic Christmas season. So, we sprang in a boat and caught up with him, which was no small feat considering how lively and quick he is. Lakelife writer Leila Scoggins requested an interview and, with a wink of his eye, he nodded his head.
Q: Thank you, Santa Claus. How did you become a Santa helper? Did you have another job before you were Santa?
A: My Mrs. Claus worked years ago with Santa Charles from Stone Mountain. He saw my white hair and beard and insisted I join the Santa clan. I worked then, and now, as a general contractor. In that job, I gained lots of skills that help in toy building.
Q: Why do you like it? Is it hard work?
A: I love to see the smiles on happy children and parents’ faces when they stop by to talk with me. I don’t really consider the Santa job as work because it brings so much joy to so many people, including myself.
Q: Has the COVID-19 pandemic interfered with your work?
A: COVID-19 has made the Christmas season more stressful. The elves and I are busy in the workshops getting gifts ready to deliver. But delivering gifts on Christmas Eve won’t be a problem because there is no need for social distancing or masks in the sleigh and I don’t go into the houses until everyone is fast asleep.
Q: When you’re not working at the North Pole, do you live in Georgia’s Lake Country? Is there another name people call you when you’re not being Santa? What do you like to do for fun while you’re here?
A: I have property in the Lake Country where I hope to build one day but meanwhile, I stay at the North Pole. Other names I go by are husband, daddy, uncle, and especially friend. When I’m in Lake Country, I enjoy watching the sunset over the lake while I’m fishing or just boating.
Q: In Georgia’s Lake Country, which list is longer- the naughty list or the nice one?
A: Definitely the longer list is the nice list. I have been privileged over the years to meet many great people and make many special friends that I look forward to seeing every year.
Q: What is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?
A: There have been two extra special things done for me. The first was a precious little boy with Down’s syndrome, who after sitting on my lap and talking with me, ran to get his candy cane, but rather than keeping it for himself, he brought it back to me and said, “Here Santa, this is for you.” The second was another young boy who brought me a bracelet that he had made just for me. The pipe cleaner bracelet with beads is a treasure to me. He promised to see me again this year and bring me another treasure.
Q: Do you have a pet, other than reindeer?
A: Yes, I have a dog. He’s a miniature schnauzer and his name is Maxx. He watches over the North Pole while I’m away.
Q: Do your knees hurt after so many kids sit on them?
A: No, I never get tired or sore from a child sitting on my lap.
Q: What do you like to hear from the children?
A: I like to hear that they’re being good, brushing their teeth, obeying mom and dad, saying their prayers and being kind to their friends.
Q: How do you listen to a child who is scared or crying?
A: I give them a hug and try to be understanding and compassionate. I pray for them while they are on my lap.
Q: Do you wear your Santa suit everywhere?
A: No. I don’t wear it in the workshop, but I do wear it all day Christmas Eve and Christmas day.
Q: Do you go to the grocery store or out to eat? Do people recognize you?
A: It’s a lot of fun to go to the grocery store and out to eat. I never know where or by whom I will be recognized. Very often, I will be noticed by an adult and asked if they can take a picture with me to share with their children.
Q: What do you do in the summertime?
A: I love to come to the lake and enjoy boating and fishing. I also like to go to the mountains.
Q: Are you changing your routine due to COVID-19?
A: I am not changing my routine, but I will recognize other people’s wishes concerning COVID.
Q: What do you want for Christmas?
A: I want every child safe, secure and happy to know Jesus.
Lakelife Magazine also learned that anyone who would like Santa to visit their Lake Country event may call Santa Dell at 770-616-3603 or find Santa Dell on Facebook.
Happy Christmas to all!