My daughter confided recently that children in her five-year-old sons’ kindergarten classes are already attempting to undermine other kids’ beliefs in Santa Claus. An attempt that seems, somehow, childish.
The boys know there’s more than one kind of reality. They more or less politely derided my pretense that a small plush moose toy named Miles was “real” in the sense of belonging to a species of gigantic quadrupeds whose antlers would get stuck trying to fit through the door of their suburban home. But the boys assured me that Miles, when tucked into a child’s bed, really does keep dreams from turning into nightmares.
That’s the kind of reality Santa Claus has. Just ask his alter ego, psychology professor Carl Anderson, who’s been the face and voice of Santa for more than twenty years at Dallas’s NorthPark Center.
Beginning the day after Thanksgiving, Santa, aka Dr. Anderson, entertains crowds of children and parents daily from his small house on Level One near Macy’s.
When I heard him last week, the crowd of children began chanting “Santa, Santa,” even before he entered the house, and some adults joined the refrain as well during Anderson’s signature story about Trouble the Christmas elf. The storytelling continues at 10:30 a.m. daily (Sundays at noon) through December 23.
Pictures with Santa are free if taken by family members, but there’s such a line, you have to assure your place with a numbered ticket. Ticketing starts at 9 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday. (Children may also have their pictures taken by a professional photographer.) See www.northparkcenter.com/holiday/ for complete listings of picture times and other events.
Santa also invites listeners to read his family-friendly blog, http://santasays.org/ In answer to the often-asked question “Are you the real Santa?” he writes, “I let them know that whether I am or not I represent their being cared about and a wish that they be happy. A young boy asked (recently) ‘How do I know if you are the real Santa?’ I tapped his chest and said, ‘Listen to your heart’. That’s where our ‘truths’ lie.”