By Amy Lane
Christmas often prompts strangers to give without need for compensation or recognition. Two Baylor employees have shared in this spirit anonymously for the past 10 years.
Because Santa Claus can’t be in two places at once, he often calls on the Most Exalted Elf in Baylor’s Building Services to help out with the holiday rush. Deputized by the Big Man himself, this employee of 32 years relays the children’s requests to Old St. Nick.
“Santa gets asked for all sorts of things — from cell phones to new homes for younger siblings,” Baylor Claus said.
In addition to other community events, the Baylor Santa also doubles as the resident Santa Claus for the H-E-B Feast of Sharing.
The job isn’t always a piece of sugarplum pie.
“Sometimes kids ask to get their parents out of jail or back from the war — even Santa finds that hard to answer,” he said.
Instead of promising, he always encourages them to believe in a positive outcome. His other half of 34 years speaks up:
“Can we change people’s lives? We don’t know, but we do know we made them happy for that one moment,” she said.
During the offseason, Waco’s Mrs. Claus can be found spreading her cheer through the halls of Castellaw Communications Center.
“We don’t like for people to know we do it,” she said. “It’s not something you need a pat on the back for. It’s done from the heart.”
Just as Santa’s workshop requires the help of elves, the Baylor Mr. and Mrs. Claus rely on a team for assistance.
Baylor’s Facility Services turns into a North Pole workshop this time of year. In addition to hanging decorations and thousands of lights for Christmas on 5th Street, the maintenance men find time to help with the H-E-B sponsored event. Eight years ago, they built a life-size sleigh. They re-paint it each year.
“We get it out, shine it, pretty it up — kids care about that,” said a zone manager on elf duty. “Everybody remembers sitting on Santa’s lap,” he added.
Some of the men working under Baylor Claus take it a step further and dress up as elves to guide the kids through the waiting line.
The Baylor Claus also makes house calls.
“We’ve delivered toys and decorated houses for single mothers who’ve come out of abusive relationships,” Mrs. Claus said.
The carol lines, “You better watch out, you better not cry” hold new meaning for kids who’ve experienced a disciplinary visit from Santa.
A young girl who stuck a wooden spoon in the toilet started confessing all of the year’s mishaps when Santa showed up at the door.
“Serving as Mr. and Mrs. Claus through the years, we’ve watched a lot of these kids grow from toddlers to teenagers,” Mrs. Claus said.
In fact, you’d be surprised by the size of some of the people waiting in line for Santa’s lap.
“Sometimes adults come up just to hear something positive,” Baylor Claus said.
“Adults still come and hug Santa,” Mrs. Claus continued. “You know deep down they still believe.”
*Individuals in this story remain unidentified to protect the sanctity of the subject matter.