Among the characters I portray for Historic Washington State Park are Dr. Purdom, Judges Conway and Royston and a Confederate codger named Danny. The park wardrobe department provides an authentic wool suit, complete with top hat. Because of the pretty vest, that outfit accentuates a part of my anatomy I am trying unsuccessfully to control, namely my belly. Sporting that feature along with my little round period glasses, I suppose I looked a bit like Santa Claus at last Saturday’s Christmas and Candlelight event at the park.
Maybe that’s why the mayor’s wife called me aside and told me she and the mayor were part of a progressive dinner soon and they wanted me to portray Father Christmas for it. You see, the park has a very beautiful bishop’s costume, as well as extravagantly realistic whiskers, worn by the person designated as Father Christmas as he roams around the park greeting people and handing out peppermint during the two evenings of Christmas and Candlelight. I have never been asked to perform that role until the First Lady of Washington approached me about it.
So, I have been studying the real St. Nicholas whom I shall portray at the dinner in a couple of weeks. I found out some interesting things about this historical figure, including the report that he was a signer of the Nicene Creed, having been a prime mover in that Council. Here is as far as I have gotten in my preparation for my portrayal.
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I have come to you here in Washington from the third century. My home is in the village of Patara in what is now Turkey. My folks were quite wealthy, but they died while I was young, leaving me a considerable inheritance, which I used to help the sick and the poor in Patara. Because of my zeal and deep belief in Our Lord, I was eventually made bishop of Myra.
“That is why I carry this shepherd’s staff. Bishops traditionally use this curved stick as a symbol of their office and as a depiction of what they do. They reach out with the crook to rescue and bring in; they urge the recalcitrant along with the other end; they use it to fight off any entity that would attack their sheep.
“Once I rescued three sisters from a poor family who had no dowry. They were unable to marry and would have doubtless been sold into slavery. So I tossed three bags of gold into their stockings as they dried above the fireplace, so that the next morning they found themselves saved. Another time, a ship full of wheat was docked in my town and I convinced the sailors to give me half the wheat for the poor, assuring them that it would be restored as they sailed to their destination. They gave me the wheat and later reported that it had been miraculously restored when they arrived in Constantinople.
“And, I hesitate to relate this, but Roman Bishop Arius was close to apostate at the Nicene Council and I smacked him in his heresy spewing mouth. Yes, Santa Claus can get mad.”