‘It’s a blessing’

Santa and Mrs. Claus bring joy to local kids

Date Published: 
Dec. 22, 2017

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Violet Casey-Robidoux, 6, sits with Santa and Mrs. Claus in Frankford Town Park on Wednesday, Dec. 13.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Violet Casey-Robidoux, 6, sits with Santa and Mrs. Claus in Frankford Town Park on Wednesday, Dec. 13.’Twas a Wednesday

near Christmas,

and in Frankford park,

The Christmas lights twinkled

and lit up the dark.

In a little warm hut,

despite rain or mist,

Santa Claus came

to get kids’ Christmas lists.

On a bitingly cold Wednesday night, a tiny electric heater manages to warm a small wooden shed at Frankford Town Park. It’s so chilly out that the door stays closed, unless a small child knocks on the door, with her parents close behind.

She grins through the little glass window. Santa and Mrs. Claus are inside.

This is Santa’s house, a home away from home built by local high school students so he can visit Frankford each year on Wednesday nights before Christmas.

“Some children come every Wednesday,” Mrs. Claus said, and some kids come every year. “After four years, we’re watching them grow up.”

Santa hangs on his fridge pictures that children bring him, with their Christmas list attached. The wish lists can be long and complex or short and simple. One boy wants “a book with letters in it” because he had just learned to read. One girl wants a baby sister, but Santa suggests she ask her parents about that. Almost everyone wants electronics.

Santa reminds them to leave milk and cookies on Christmas Eve, plus a carrot for the reindeer. He chats with parents about the snow.

Over the past decade, the Clauses have appeared at local libraries, fire halls and schools.

“They do an amazing job. … I think they absolutely love it,” said Robert “Robbie” Murray Jr., a Frankford holiday organizer. “They’re genuine. That’s the best way to describe it.”

Santa and his helpers make many appearances in order to get Christmas lists from many children. Mr. and Mrs. Claus said they felt honored to have heard this story from some Frankford parents: “They were out with their kids in another town, and they saw Santa, and they looked up at their mom and said, ‘Well, that’s just Santa’s helper. We know the real Santa’s in Frankford.”

Kids are curious about the jolly old St. Nicolas, who lovingly shares gifts with children all around the world. “Santa why are your eyebrows white?” “Why do you wear a belt?”

“One of them asked how I land the sleigh without snow,” Mr. Claus recalled. “I said, ‘Well, I land on the blacktop. Sparks are flying off the sleigh, because it’s metal meeting blacktop, so it’s kind of hard on the runners.’ One of them wanted to go back to the North Pole with me. I said, ‘Well, you gotta get permission from your mother,’” but she decided to travel another time.

Sometimes, small children curl up in his arm, happy to hug the soft, fleecy suit. Some kids are scared to sit with the bearded man in a red suit, but that’s OK, too. They still get a “Merry Christmas!” and a high-five. Maybe they’ll be ready to sit on his lap another day.

“If we can touch people’s hearts and make them happy, just for a few minutes of the day, we’ve accomplished our goal,” Mr. Claus said. “Just to see the excitement on the faces — it’s just wonderful. It’s a blessing to me.”

In fact, Mr. and Mrs. Claus will happily hug a whole family, since adults sometimes need holiday cheer, too.

At Frankford Town Park, they appreciated that local churches gave out free hot chocolate and cookies but also made connections with families in need.

The Clauses also promote local library programs that fit with children’s Christmas wishes. When kids ask for puppies or toy trains, they’ll get a flier about local libraries with monthly animal programs and model train displays.

When not at the North Pole, the couple has had a “vacation home” in Dagsboro for about 13 years, where Mr. Claus lovingly builds and runs Christmas-themed train villages with an O gauge, which he happily welcomes guests to see year-round.

Before that, the vacation house was near Hanover, Pa., where they ran an inn and sometimes greeted children during the holidays. When their son started a family and a cleaning business in Delaware, the Clauses came down to help with the business and the grandkids.

“This is a wonderful community,” Mrs. Claus said.

She and her husband are celebrating a golden wedding anniversary this year.

Special thanks to Bill and Susan Day for helping the Coastal Point schedule an interview with the very busy Claus family.