Background: Just doing a Santa gig at a little local community center in Tsuchida, Okayama… Not a lot of kids around here it seems so… not sure what to expect exactly > just is going with the flow. Figure it’s my “job for life” now that I live here and I’m the token neighborhood guy with a beard.
Preparation: Giving the chukka boots a little bit of black polish (after removing some salt stains with vinegar), then a little buff up to go with the Santa Claus outfit tomorrow.
Of course, I won’t actually be able to wear the shoes into the event (will bring my own red and black check slippers though) but well, doing what I can to be a top-end Uncle Christmas for the kiddos.
Also pulled out some old gold wire rim glasses – just not doing what I can to look sharp.
With various precautions (temperature checks included), the kids won’t sit on my lap but instead, stand a respectful distance away, bow likely (at the grandeur of my beard no doubt), cry possibly, state their wishes maybe, and I will nod approvingly and wish them each well on their life.
There will likely be a few snapshots. Note to self, early start so prepare coffee and/or cocoa in advance.
OK, back to the boots before I make a mess of things. (update: mess = yes)
PS These little boots are what I wore stomping around the Himalayas a bit… Kind of as a “protest to yuppie Mountaineers“, and out of respect to so many Nepalis who carry obnoxious tourist’s load around the mountains wearing off the rack regular old clothes, as such wandered through the villages with these on my hooves.
Re: tomorrow morning’s “Uncle Christmas“ gig… Made a “Santa’s own family photo album” to take along in case any kids question the backstory. Includes: Santa as a young boy with beard etc. plus “Santa on vacation“ with the mayor. Includes pictures of mom and dad and Christmas in Jamaica.
+ Practicing Q&A with appropriate “in-character“ Japanese answers including which honorific pronouns and whatnot to use.
I mean I’m doing it, might as well go all in, as usual.
As I understand, there will be some sort of singing, storybook and then the kids will chant for Santa, at which time I will enter with a bag/box of presents > they’ve advised some sort of dancing￼, however I will sit during that part and tell the kids how adorable they are and ask appropriate questions about their recent behavior￼, thusly adjudicating the worthiness of gifts. ￼
Then, I will interact with the children in a cautious safe manner.
Here we go
Quick stroll over to kominkon
Ohato gozaimasu – now on-location in “stealth mode”, temperature checked, masks, so many cute kids…
Foggy morning like a Gordon Lightfoot song
Assisted by my R & I.
Also have Insta camera but seems no shortage of cameras here.￼
(Limited photos due to well, kids etc.)￼
I am appropriately medicated but could use one more coffee￼.￼
Moms & kids assembling here at community centre.
Windows open for max fresh air. 6o C, no one minds, bundled up.
Warming up with some movement & music.
I have elected to use my “foreigner elective card” and sit on a chair – I almost always do the floor sitting but right now, playing it safe… I may not be able to stand back up :)
Standing by for cue / note: specs circa 1996-7 when an internet company geek in Olympia, dress-up times like this is why I keep items. Could not see very well but #methodacting requires such sacrifices
Also, have used beard as a wig creating some sort of Santa Mullet
Resplendent and shimmering (note ordered the “luxury/deluxe” Santa outfit but it is decidedly mediocre, lots of flair but was hoping for higher end fabrics – geez, I’m needy!)
It’s technically not breaking & entering when you have a magic key. Just making sure my backstory is all in place when kids ask how I get in without a chimney to be found. (thanks S)
Rolling into the community center like no big deal… (Note the coordinated uniglo slippers) / Also walkingstick made from wood salvaged from the Fukushima incidents (thanks R)
Update: Slayed – My study at the Strasburg Institute paid off with my naturalistic performance as a trimmed up Santa Claus, old and weary yet doing all right.
Each child received a custom monologue based on their appearance, age, personality and shyness level.
Gift bags were provided.
Yes, a lot of the kids were a little surprised, a few cried but all left feeling better about themselves I think. Complements (sincere) are the most precious (& free) gift.
Reminded each kid to be sweet to their parents, say kind words to others, take good care of their health and I will see them next year.
Explained my trimmed up figure as a diet of natto and umeboshi exclusively.
Told them I was off to Kurashiki next.
Had a notebook with a map of the nearby seto-ni-ki (inland sea) on the cover and told them I was keeping notes (with a comically oversize pencil from the McMenimin’s Kennedy school in Portland) as to who were the good kids and whatnot.
Found this child particularly amusing and appealing.
I suppose *technically* Santa isn’t it supposed to choose favorites but I did. He was a bit confused, like “I know this dude but something seems *off*”
Oh, the kids performed some sort of freeform dance with colourful pom-poms which was unexpected.
Of course made a few other minor observances while on location i.e.: karaoke machine in the closet (for SFK)
Noted a lovely persimmon tree on the walk home
I did a stealth exit and back at the cottage warming up the bath and wishing there was a hockey game on. Received a gift bag which seems to have a bottle of tea and some sort of box… Let’s hope it’s chocolate.
[Update: was not chocolate, some sort of crackers, I broke the rules and ate in the bath – 2 hours at 44-45 °]
All the parents seemed super happy and I will do this every year forever, somewhere or another.
Afterward (with C.B.): I went to the gig in sort of street clothes and participated in the opening singing blah blah blah stuff (keep in mind I’m the only fella and only foreigner there) and then went and changed and came back in to the complete astonishment of the children.
That said, I kind of love the idea of rolling through the neighborhood in the outfit… Maybe head downtown and just act like it’s no big deal
Next year we can do the “foreign Santa renegade day out” / Rampage the streets giving away ¥100 store things
So much fun! I’m going to do this every year forever in Japan.