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Becoming Santa

Jeff Meyers

Becoming Santa
Forty-something actor Jack Sanderson is unmarried, no longer has his parents and doesn't have kids. At Christmas, he finds himself alone and pines for his childhood Yuletides, when the holidays were fun, yet fulfilling. What does he do?

He bleaches his beard white, buys a big, red coat and enrols in Santa School. Sanderson takes us by the hand and leads us through the history, culture and business surrounding Mr. Claus. Saint Nick began as a real-life do-gooder centuries ago in Europe, stuffing money into the mailboxes of destitute families, then evolved last century into a marketing ploy to lure families into American department stores.

Becoming Santa is informative and sincere, avoiding cynicism. Interviews with historians and cultural experts are concise and well chosen, but it's Sanderson's generous personality that shines. We share in his pleasure as he bounces the hundredth tyke on his knee and feel his pain when another bawls his eyes out at a glass-shattering pitch.

More importantly, we feel the Yuletide spirit he was seeking. Becoming Santa isn't exactly hard-hitting stuff, but it sets out to recapture the spirit of giving in an often-weary world.
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