Editor's note: See the bottom of this story and read to kids what Santa had to say about his work at the North Pole. This reporter got a one-on-one interview with the man who does it all in one night. Special thanks to Becky and Art for the special interview.
As the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce held its holiday season kickoff downtown, one very popular person visited the nursing homes and the children of Glasgow. Eyes lit up and smiles appeared on many faces that saw the red and white hat and the long white beard. Santa Claus came to town on Saturday, Nov. 30, and he'll continue to make his rounds over the next few weeks, before Christmas comes and the magical night takes place.
Art and Becky Johnson, Mr. and Mrs. Claus, spent time with their Linda Eldridge, their special elf helper, visiting the young and old over the weekend. Even the shyest children ended giving Santa high-fives and hugs after a quick visit. The couple have been Santa and Mrs. Claus in Glasgow since they moved to town in 2000. But it all started before they made their way to town. Art began dressing as Santa for his children years ago.
"When his hair went white, well, it was just a natural progression," Becky said.
Becky helped Art with hearing what patients from hospitals, nursing homes and children were requesting for Christmas. After helping for a while she began to dressing as Mrs. Claus. The couple helped with emergency flights and handed out goodies to staff and patients. When they moved to town their love for Santa continued.
"We started that year and decorated our front lawn and set up for children to come tell Santa what they wanted," Becky said.
A sleigh was built for the front yard that had a heater in it. As the weather created slick sidewalks, they finally decided to stop setting up on their front lawn, in fear someone might slip and get hurt. Soon Becky's sister, Eldridge, joined the crew to help out with the fun. Becky said that they've continued for several businesses and individuals who request the presence of the man with a bowl full of jelly. Becky said that they never charge for their appearances but many of the places tend to give something for their efforts.
In the upcoming month they'll be working with the Block of Bucks program. They'll take kids shopping for items they want to get for other family members. It's opportunities like this and visiting the young and old that make a difference for Becky and Art.
"Between the children's faces and seeing Alzheimer's patients, seeing their faces light up, it's like you can see their memories spark up," Becky said. "Kids and adults that don't respond to people sometimes will smile and wave."
Becky also said that the best gift they can give is sometimes a gift they can give for nothing. This year a child brought them a gift. Children also bring their letters to Santa. Becky and Art read them and keep them in a folder that sometimes they can go back and look at. For this duo, and their elf helper they have decided to continue their Christmas tradition for many years to come.
An Interview with Santa
Next to a warm fire and a cup of hot cocoa, Santa sat down to tell the good children of Glasgow about the North Pole and his work as one of the biggest toymakers in the world. Santa explained that the North Pole is very snowy and cold, but in the village and work shop most elves stayed warm and cozy.
"All the lights and decorations are very beautiful," Santa said. "We wish everyone could see it, but if you close your eyes and use your imagination, its probably even more spectacular."
When asked how Santa could make it around the world in one night, he explained that the different time zones and magic that freezes time helps get all the work done. It's also how he can get in and out of houses unseen. He explained that Mrs. Claus spends the evening preparing him for his long evening with homemade hot cocoa and goodies to eat on the way. Sometimes she travels with him on the sleigh. Santa admitted that most Christmas Eve nights, she stays home and throws a big party for all the hard working elves.
Santa said that the elves are organized in groups. Some take care of the reindeer, some work in the workshop and others do secret missions that he couldn't discuss. He did mention at this point that naughty list was in the works but wouldn't go into further detail. One very special elf, the chief elf, Starlingle, helps with her magic bell and keeps all the toys organized.
"She's pretty old, in the 800s, but she moves pretty quick for a senior," Santa said.
Santa wouldn't reveal his own age in this interview. He said he didn't keep track but that Mrs. Claus may know. She for some reason just giggles when he asks. Santa said his favorite gifts from the children are big hugs and the love .
"When a child understands that it is more blessed to give than receive, that just brings joy to my heart," Santa said.
For those children who like to leave out cookies for Santa, he said that he does love sugar cookies but he loves trying all kinds of goodies. He said he sometimes gets beef jerky, especially from Montana children. He also said that reindeer do love carrots, the also love turnips and pumpkins.
"Especially Donner and Prancer, they'll eat just about anything," Santa said. "I have to keep an eye on them. They can't get too chubby for the long ride. They have to pull me in the sleigh ya know."
As Santa wrapped up his interview, he winked with a twinkle in his eye and gave a big hearty laugh. He disappeared in the blink of an eye and is now working hard to be sure all the good boys and girls get special gifts for Christmas.
Merry Christmas to all.