Each December for hundreds of years, the figure of Santa Claus – in all his forms – has been known for bestowing gifts to boys and girls around the world.
In keeping with that tradition, children through quiet prayers and thoughts, a letter to the red-suited mythical figure, or that 11th hour in-person visit to the lap of the big man himself has shared their hopes and dreams for what might arrive Christmas morning.
Again, this year, Santa took up residency along Main Street in Martinez to visit with local youngsters and hear what is on their lists.
“For the girls, Elsa and the characters from ‘Frozen’ remain popular,’’ said Mr. Claus, recounting some of the requests from the estimated 1,500 children – same as a year ago – who climbed up on his lap this year.
Also hot this year are the Shopkins toys, which Santa likened to the Pokemon craze of years past.
On the boys’ side, the tried and true items like race cars, trucks, Transformers and skateboards were often heard. But Hoverboards are a new entry expressed by his young visitors, Santa said.
Similarly, no mind the gender, high tech items like cell phones are now part of the conversation Santa is having with the school-aged children. And as the schools are beginning to require them of youngsters, Santa heard many a request for tablets too.
But for all the requests he has heard this year, Santa was overjoyed with the tone of the youngsters who have graced his tiny abode.
Absent are the “greedy, grubby kids,’’ he said.
Rather, he marveled the pleasantness of the encounters and acts of kindness, like the older siblings who are with the younger kids and put them at ease when they are hesitant to climb up on the lap of this jolly, bearded fellow.
“I can’t believe the positivity in the children; they are excited about the real meaning of the season and not thinking about what they are going to get,’’ Santa said.
He observed that more than a few kids expressed an altruism again this year, including those who asked of him: “I want my parents to be happy.”
Whether this year’s requests reflected the stronger economy, Santa did not know.
“Kids don’t know a good economy from a bad one,” he said. “Kids are naturally generous and don’t want to see any one get hurt.”
Santa spoke warmly of “the family dynamics within households” that he has become privy too over the years as one child after another opens up to him about their situation. This mainly comes up when he discusses a pet for Christmas.
But he is careful how he walks this line. As with most requests, he looks for signs from the parents about a child’s particular request. That nod of a parent’s head or a wink.
Over the years he has heard the standard requests for dogs, and then there was the one little girl who wanted a snake. Santa asked her what kind. “Any kind,” she said. Then then there was the issue of what her family would think. Her reply: it could bite her uncle.
As in the past, the latest swing through Martinez also had the little ones wondering about the menu for the evening or making sure he gain entry into their homes.
While cookies (especially chocolate chip) and milk continue to be the standard snack fare to help him circumvent the globe and all its obstacles in one night, Santa changed this up this year by asking the kids what they like to make. Sugar cookies was often expressed, to which he replied that was fine too.
Chimneys have long been the storied point of entry for many of Santa’s visits. He actually was surprised Martinez still has so many. And there was the one child who told him he had two chimneys and Santa should use the south one.
No matter the number, he reminded his tiny visitors to make sure the fire was out when he arrived to come down their chimney.
But there are also the kids who were concerned he might bypass their homes as they did not have a chimney. No worry, expressed Santa, there is a “special Santa key” for him to get in and make his deliveries.
In doing so, over the years Santa has also gotten his share of warnings to avoid the coffee table that he might trip over.
Looking ahead to Christmas 2016, just a mere 365 days away, Santa offered these sage words of advice to young and old alike: “Try to keep the spirit of Christmas alive all year long.”