You can find joy and happiness anywhere and at any time, says Yukon's Santa
‘I think that we can find, even in dark times, those little bits of light and joy and happiness’
It's been a challenging year economically, socially and emotionally but even during these difficult times, you can find joy and happiness anywhere and at any time, according to a man who's been around and seen a thing or two.
"It comes from just adopting an attitude of caring and sharing with others," said Santa Claus — also known as Michael Dougherty of Whitehorse — when reached by phone at his home in the North.
Claus said he knows from his many visits to Yukon and Canada's North that it's a very caring community and that he has no doubt "that spirit will remain and flourish, even in these COVID[-19] days.
"I think that we can find, even in dark times, those little bits of light and joy and happiness."
Adapting to COVID-19
He attended the Whitehorse Winterval Santa Parade last weekend, sitting comfortably in his sleigh on a flatbed trailer, waving to people as the parade caravan made its way through the city's neighbourhoods.
"This was just a unique way of coming in these COVID[-19] days to make sure everybody stays healthy and happy but still not deprived of a good Christmas, and beginning the season with lighting the tree and a Santa parade," he said.
It was one more way that Santa has adapted to these COVID-19 times.
"Well, the elves certainly are telling me without any hesitation, 'keep your mask on, Santa,'" he said with a chuckle.
And he credits Mrs. Claus with making masks for him that take into account his beard.
Wearing the mask and following the other public health measures during this time — washing hands, staying two metres apart — are a part of what allows him to continue to spread Christmas cheer.
Connecting with Santa
Santa said kids can always connect with him the old-fashioned way, through a letter to Santa Claus at the North Pole with the postal code H0H 0H0, or by email at YukonSanta@gmail.com.
And, like the rest of us, Santa said he's been spending a fair amount of time this year on Zoom.
"I just talked yesterday to a passel of kids in Nanaimo and here in Whitehorse. I was talking to a family in Vancouver via Zoom as well," he said.
He also appears in three videos on the City of Whitehorse website in which Moira Sauer and three students tell stories and Santa shares some personal tales with children.
Santa Claus also said he worked with Yukon Libraries and will appear virtually on their platforms, later this month.
"People are thinking ahead and trying to figure out how can we make sure the Christmas spirit is generously spread across the community in ways that are appropriate and safeguard everybody's health," he said.
Santa said a COVID-19 vaccine is at the top of many people's wish list — and according to the three territorial governments, vaccines will be on the way in early 2021.
"We just have to, in the meantime, keep up all of the protocols that we've been learning very well," Santa said.
He says he knows how frustrating it's been for people during the global pandemic.
"But still, there's always that sense that there is hope, and hope brings that sense of peace and contentment and the sense that, you know, we're part of a community and this community who shares this struggle together, and together it'll find find a way to bring happiness in spite of it all."