Dec 10th – Jessie goes to a Santa Claus convention.

Jessie and Cris reached the auditorium where the workshops were being held a little after 8 a.m. After a hearty meal, they went towards the same auditorium they were in the previous day. Santa confidently walked up to the stage, Jessie following him on the lead. When he reached the top of the stairs he took off the lead and talked to Jessie. “Don’t run off Jessie, there’s going to be a lot of noise in here shortly.” Santa walked to the podium and cleared his throat into the microphone calling the Santas in the audience to attention.

“Today we are going to cover three of the basics for a good Santa. First, the “Ho, Ho, Ho”, two distribution of toys and three child management. This workshop deals with learning to create a deep and convincing Ho,Ho,Ho in order to convince the children. Let’s begin.” Santa placed his notes on the table and walked out in the middle of the stage without the microphone. He held his hand over his stomach and cleared his throat. He rubbed his stomach and then in a deep baritone he bellowed “Ho,Ho,Ho.”

Jessie’s ears perked up. She had never heard Santa speak with such emphasis. Although he did not carry a microphone, Jessie was sure that the sound travelled throughout the auditorium. She lay down with her head on her paws and waited to see what would happen next.

“Tone does not matter. Although normally the words are produced in a deep baritone, they can be convincing in other voices. The trick is to take a deep breath and to use your stomach muscles to produce a deep and rich sound that travels across the room and pulls attention to your voice. Now, let’s begin. Find a partner. We are going to practice together.”

There was a general shuffling in the room as the Santas put themselves in groups. When Santa thought that everyone had a partner he went to the microphone so that he could be heard. “Now, I want you to take turns. We’ll practice for 10 minutes then move on. If anyone has questions I’m available at the front.”

The group erupted into a general clamour. Jessie could hear the sound of multiple Ho’s ringing through the room. The words weaved themselves together.

The sound was no intense that it hurt Jessie’s ears and she lay down and put her paws over her head.

Santa walked over. “I thought this might happen. Molly designed these ear protectors for you. I’ll put them on you Jessie. When the sound has decreased I’ll take them off for you.” He placed pink, woolly ear protectors over Jessie’s head and gave her a pat. He then went to the microphone and stood leaning against the podium waiting to see if there would be any questions.

Jessie watched the audience. It was strange to see gaping mouths throughout the room but not be able to hear anything. She watched the expressions of the Santas in the audience. Although, some of the Santas were definitely better at the belly laugh, all seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely.

When 10 minutes were finished Santa called the auditorium to order and he pulled off Jessie’s ear protectors and walked back to the podium.

“Now, let’s talk about the distribution of toys. Although, I will be delivering the main load of toys using my distribution company I understand that a number of you would like to have us produce toys for some charities. I am happy to say that I have checked with my head elf and it looks like we will be able to produce the toys free of charge.”

The Santas stood up and applauded. Several whistles could be heard in the back of the room.

“Thank-you, we are glad to help. It will require some paperwork on your part however. We want to ensure that our resources are used wisely. Forms will be available at the door, or you can contact Molly at the number in your orientation package, and she will be happy to provide you with details.” Santa took a drink from a glass and drank deeply.

Now, the child management portion of the program will be covered by psychology professor William B Frost. His presentation will be after lunch. Please go to the main dining room. The buffet is set up there for you.

Santa picked up is papers and walked over to Jessie. We’re skipping the workshop this afternoon. I’ve heard Frost’s lecture about 50 times now and I don’t think I can sit through it again. We do have to enjoy the buffet though. The cook tells me their serving salmon.

Jessie licked her lips. She loved salmon. She stood up and trotted behind Santa. She still wasn’t sure why Santa needed all these Santa copy-cats but she was sure that someday he would tell her. Right now, she decided that she liked Santa conventions. There was good friends, lots of people who are happy, and hands to pet her head. Jessie hoped that Santa would let her go with him to the next convention.