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Seeing Santa safely: A salve at the end of a tumultuous year

It’s Christmas in 2020, and everything is different. Yet the Christmas spirit endures. Santa sits behind plexiglass, or in a life-sized snow globe. And then, of course, there’s Zoom Santa. Perhaps, seeing Santa is the salve families needed at the end of this tumultuous year

December 18, 2020 / 01:44 PM IST
Seeing Santa is for many families a holiday tradition that goes back generations. It’s the annual snapshot that year-after-year marks the passage of time, and a reminder that children believe in magic, and that a jolly bearded man can make their wishes come true. But it’s Christmas in 2020, and everything is different. Santa sits behind plexiglass, or in a life-sized snow globe. And then, of course, there’s Zoom Santa. Much of the tradition is altered this year. Sitting on Santa’s lap is out. There is no whispering of wish lists into his ear. Getting in to see Santa this year often requires making an appointment and temperature checks upon arrival. Many stores, from Macy’s and Nieman Marcus to smaller venues around the country, have opted for virtual visits. Conversations with Santa this year, inevitably, include the virus. Kids ask if Santa will wear a mask when he visits their homes on Christmas Eve. He asks in turn if they’ve been naughty or nice — and good about washing their hands with water AND soap. Some children have lost parents, grandparents or other loved ones. They miss their schools and friends. Yet the Christmas spirit endures. Perhaps, seeing Santa is the salve families needed at the end of this tumultuous year. Despite all that has changed, Santa still looks pretty much the same and restores a feeling of comfort in an otherwise turbulent time. Associated Press photographers set out to capture the socially distanced, decidedly 2020 Santa visits taking place across the United States. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Seeing Santa is for many families a holiday tradition that goes back generations. It’s the annual snapshot that year-after-year marks the passage of time, and a reminder that children believe in magic, and that a jolly bearded man can make their wishes come true. But it’s Christmas in 2020, and everything is different. Santa sits behind plexiglass, or in a life-sized snow globe. And then, of course, there’s Zoom Santa.
Much of the tradition is altered this year. Sitting on Santa’s lap is out. There is no whispering of wish lists into his ear. Getting in to see Santa this year often requires making an appointment and temperature checks upon arrival. Many stores, from Macy’s and Nieman Marcus to smaller venues around the country, have opted for virtual visits.
Conversations with Santa this year, inevitably, include the virus. Kids ask if Santa will wear a mask when he visits their homes on Christmas Eve. He asks in turn if they’ve been naughty or nice — and good about washing their hands with water AND soap. Some children have lost parents, grandparents or other loved ones. They miss their schools and friends.
Yet the Christmas spirit endures. Perhaps, seeing Santa is the salve families needed at the end of this tumultuous year. Despite all that has changed, Santa still looks pretty much the same and restores a feeling of comfort in an otherwise turbulent time.
Associated Press photographers set out to capture the socially distanced, decidedly 2020 Santa visits taking place across the United States. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Santa, portrayed by Dan Kemmis, laughs as he talks to Kristin Laidre as she walks her dog, Scooby, a Bassett Hound mix, as he sits inside a protective bubble in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood on Dec. 8, 2020. Kemmis has been Santa in past years, but he started his daily appearances early this year and added his "snow globe" tent due to the Coronavirus pandemic. In this socially distant holiday season, Santa Claus is still coming to towns (and shopping malls) across America but with a few 2020 rules in effect. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Santa, portrayed by Dan Kemmis, laughs as he talks to Kristin Laidre as she walks her dog, Scooby, a Bassett Hound mix, as he sits inside a protective bubble in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood on Dec. 8, 2020. Kemmis has been Santa in past years, but he started his daily appearances early this year and added his "snow globe" tent due to the Coronavirus pandemic. In this socially distant holiday season, Santa Claus is still coming to towns (and shopping malls) across America but with a few 2020 rules in effect. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Father Frost looks through decorated 10-foot snow globe at Trolley Square in Salt Lake City on Dec. 10, 2020. In this socially distant holiday season, Santa Claus is still coming to towns (and shopping malls) across America but with a few 2020 rules in effect. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Father Frost looks through decorated 10-foot snow globe at Trolley Square in Salt Lake City on Dec. 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Santa, portrayed by Dan Kemmis, talks to a family wearing masks as he sits inside a protective bubble in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood on Dec. 8, 2020. Kemmis has been Santa in past years, but he started his daily appearances early this year and added his "snow globe" tent due to the Coronavirus pandemic. In this socially distant holiday season, Santa Claus is still coming to towns (and shopping malls) across America but with a few 2020 rules in effect. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Santa, portrayed by Dan Kemmis, talks to a family wearing masks as he sits inside a protective bubble in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood on Dec. 8, 2020. Kemmis has been Santa in past years, but he started his daily appearances early this year and added his "snow globe" tent due to the Coronavirus pandemic.  (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Brynn Brennan smiles at a social distant Santa as she rides past Santa's Garage on the roof of a parking garage next to Soldier Field in Chicago on Dec. 10, 2020. In this socially distant holiday season, Santa Claus is still coming to towns (and shopping malls) across America but with a few 2020 rules in effect. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Brynn Brennan smiles at a social distant Santa as she rides past Santa's Garage on the roof of a parking garage next to Soldier Field in Chicago on Dec. 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
A young girl and boy visit with the Santa in a snow globe during Automobile Alley's Lights on Broadway in Oklahoma City, Okla., Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. In this socially distant holiday season, Santa Claus is still coming to towns (and shopping malls) across America but with a few 2020 rules in effect. (Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman via AP)
A young girl and boy visit with the Santa in a snow globe during Automobile Alley's Lights on Broadway in Oklahoma City, Okla., Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. (Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman via AP)
The Bell family poses for a photo with a social distant Santa as they visit Santa's Garage on the roof of a parking deck near Soldier Field in Chicago on Dec. 10, 2020. In this socially distant holiday season, Santa Claus is still coming to towns (and shopping malls) across America but with a few 2020 rules in effect. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
The Bell family poses for a photo with a social distant Santa as they visit Santa's Garage on the roof of a parking deck near Soldier Field in Chicago on Dec. 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
A young boy watches as a reflected, social distant Santa waves while visiting Santa's Garage on top of a parking deck near Soldier Field in Chicago on Dec. 10, 2020. In this socially distant holiday season, Santa Claus is still coming to towns (and shopping malls) across America but with a few 2020 rules in effect. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
A young boy watches as a reflected, social distant Santa waves while visiting Santa's Garage on top of a parking deck near Soldier Field in Chicago on Dec. 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Santa Claus adjusts his protective face shield between visits from children and their families at Bass Pro Shops, in Miami on Nov. 20, 2020. In this socially distant holiday season, Santa Claus is still coming to towns (and shopping malls) across America but with a few 2020 rules in effect. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Santa Claus adjusts his protective face shield between visits from children and their families at Bass Pro Shops, in Miami on Nov. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
A car drives through Santa's Garage past the social distant Santa, on the roof of a parking garage next to Soldier Field and a backdrop of the Chicago skyline on Dec. 10, 2020. In this socially distant holiday season, Santa Claus is still coming to towns (and shopping malls) across America but with a few 2020 rules in effect. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
A car drives through Santa's Garage past the social distant Santa, on the roof of a parking garage next to Soldier Field and a backdrop of the Chicago skyline on Dec. 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Theo and Sophy Morris, visiting from Hawaii with their family, pose for a photograph with Santa Claus, who is sitting behind a transparent barrier, at Bass Pro Shops in Miami on Nov. 20, 2020. In this socially distant holiday season, Santa Claus is still coming to towns (and shopping malls) across America but with a few 2020 rules in effect. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Theo and Sophy Morris, visiting from Hawaii with their family, pose for a photograph with Santa Claus, who is sitting behind a transparent barrier, at Bass Pro Shops in Miami on Nov. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Gracelynn Blumenfeld, 8, visits with Santa through a transparent barrier at a Bass Pro Shop in Bridgeport, Conn., on Nov. 10, 2020. In this socially distant holiday season, Santa Claus is still coming to towns (and shopping malls) across America but with a few 2020 rules in effect. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Gracelynn Blumenfeld, 8, visits with Santa through a transparent barrier at a Bass Pro Shop in Bridgeport, Conn., on Nov. 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Julianna, 3, and Dylan Lasczak, 5, visit with Santa through a transparent barrier at a Bass Pro Shop in Bridgeport, Conn., on Nov. 10, 2020. In this socially distant holiday season, Santa Claus is still coming to towns (and shopping malls) across America but with a few 2020 rules in effect. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Julianna, 3, and Dylan Lasczak, 5, visit with Santa through a transparent barrier at a Bass Pro Shop in Bridgeport, Conn., on Nov. 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Beckett, right, and Hudson Gravley stand on the sidewalk in front of a storefront to pose for a photo with Santa and his wife, Mrs. Claus, in Bellingham, Wash., on Dec. 12, 2020. The storefront Santa sits on Saturday's during this holiday season in the shop window, where children can drop letters in a box outside and pose for photos as Santa sits inside behind. In this socially distant holiday season, Santa Claus is still coming to towns (and shopping malls) across America but with a few 2020 rules in effect. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Beckett, right, and Hudson Gravley stand on the sidewalk in front of a storefront to pose for a photo with Santa and his wife, Mrs. Claus, in Bellingham, Wash., on Dec. 12, 2020. The storefront Santa sits on Saturday's during this holiday season in the shop window, where children can drop letters in a box outside and pose for photos as Santa sits inside behind. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
LaToya Booker cleans a transparent barrier between visitors for Santa at a Bass Pro Shop in Bridgeport, Conn., on Nov. 10, 2020. In this socially distant holiday season, Santa Claus is still coming to towns (and shopping malls) across America but with a few 2020 rules in effect. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
LaToya Booker cleans a transparent barrier between visitors for Santa at a Bass Pro Shop in Bridgeport, Conn., on Nov. 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
William Peargin, left, and Payton Peargin, right, both 8, pose for a socially distant photo with Santa Claus, who sits behind a sheet of plexiglass, at Bass Pro Shop in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., on Dec. 4, 2020. In this socially distant holiday season, Santa Claus is still coming to towns (and shopping malls) across America but with a few 2020 rules in effect. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
William Peargin, left, and Payton Peargin, right, both 8, pose for a socially distant photo with Santa Claus, who sits behind a sheet of plexiglass, at Bass Pro Shop in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., on Dec. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Santa Claus wears a face shield while visiting with children at Bass Pro Shop in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., on Dec. 4, 2020. In this socially distant holiday season, Santa Claus is still coming to towns (and shopping malls) across America but with a few 2020 rules in effect. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Santa Claus wears a face shield while visiting with children at Bass Pro Shop in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., on Dec. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
William Peargin, 8, and Payton Peargin, 8, right, stand six feet from Santa Claus, who sits behind a sheet of plexiglass, at Bass Pro Shop in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., on Dec. 4, 2020. In this socially distant holiday season, Santa Claus is still coming to towns (and shopping malls) across America but with a few 2020 rules in effect. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
William Peargin, 8, and Payton Peargin, 8, right, stand six feet from Santa Claus, who sits behind a sheet of plexiglass, at Bass Pro Shop in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., on Dec. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Santa Claus waves to shoppers from a safe distance at the top level of a trolly at The Grove shopping center in Los Angeles on Dec. 3, 2020. Santa visits were canceled due to the spread of COVID-19. In this socially distant holiday season, Santa Claus is still coming to towns (and shopping malls) across America but with a few 2020 rules in effect. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Santa Claus waves to shoppers from a safe distance at the top level of a trolly at The Grove shopping center in Los Angeles on Dec. 3, 2020. Santa visits were canceled due to the spread of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Larry Jefferson portrays Santa Claus and conducts a visit via a computer screen with Raquel Anaya and her cousins Lexi and Luna Reyes from his home in Duncanville, Texas, on Dec. 9, 2020. The children lost a grandmother to COVID-19 recently. In this socially distant holiday season, Santa Claus is still coming to towns (and shopping malls) across America but with a few 2020 rules in effect. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Larry Jefferson portrays Santa Claus and conducts a visit via a computer screen with Raquel Anaya and her cousins Lexi and Luna Reyes from his home in Duncanville, Texas, on Dec. 9, 2020. The children lost a grandmother to COVID-19 recently. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Larry Jefferson, right, portrays Santa Claus and conducts a visit via a computer screen with Raquel Anaya, bottom left, and her cousins Lexi Reyes, top left, and Luna Reyes from his home in Duncanville, Texas, on Dec. 9, 2020. The children lost a grandmother to COVID-19 recently. In this socially distant holiday season, Santa Claus is still coming to towns (and shopping malls) across America but with a few 2020 rules in effect. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Larry Jefferson, right, portrays Santa Claus and conducts a visit via a computer screen with Raquel Anaya, bottom left, and her cousins Lexi Reyes, top left, and Luna Reyes from his home in Duncanville, Texas, on Dec. 9, 2020. The children lost a grandmother to COVID-19 recently. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Bill Sandeen, dressed as Santa Claus, wears a mask as a precaution against coronavirus while waiting before the opening of a Santa drive-thru selfie station at Glittering Lights, a drive-thru holiday lights display in Las Vegas on Dec. 10, 2020. In this socially distant holiday season, Santa Claus is still coming to towns (and shopping malls) across America but with a few 2020 rules in effect. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Bill Sandeen, dressed as Santa Claus, wears a mask as a precaution against coronavirus while waiting before the opening of a Santa drive-thru selfie station at Glittering Lights, a drive-thru holiday lights display in Las Vegas on Dec. 10, 2020. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Larry Jefferson prepares to portray Santa Claus for virtual visits with kids from his home in Duncanville, Texas, on Dec. 9, 2020. In this socially distant holiday season, Santa Claus is still coming to towns (and shopping malls) across America but with a few 2020 rules in effect. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Larry Jefferson prepares to portray Santa Claus for virtual visits with kids from his home in Duncanville, Texas, on Dec. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Charlie Bush, dressed as Santa Claus, wears a face shield as a precaution against coronavirus as he greets people waiting in their cars at Glittering Lights, a drive-thru holiday lights display, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020, in Las Vegas. In this socially distant holiday season, Santa Claus is still coming to towns (and shopping malls) across America but with a few 2020 rules in effect. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Charlie Bush, dressed as Santa Claus, wears a face shield as a precaution against coronavirus as he greets people waiting in their cars at Glittering Lights, a drive-thru holiday lights display, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Santa Claus' from left, Larry Hansen, Charlie Bush and Bill Sandeen, wear masks as a precaution against coronavirus while waiting before the opening of a Santa drive-thru selfie station at Glittering Lights, a drive-thru holiday lights display, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020, in Las Vegas. Santa behind plexiglass. Santa in a life-sized snow globe. Santa wearing a face mask. And, of course, Zoom Santa. In this socially distant holiday season, Santa Claus is still coming to towns (and shopping malls) across America but with a few 2020 rules in effect. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Santa Claus' from left, Larry Hansen, Charlie Bush and Bill Sandeen, wear masks as a precaution against coronavirus while waiting before the opening of a Santa drive-thru selfie station at Glittering Lights, a drive-thru holiday lights display, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020, in Las Vegas. Santa behind plexiglass. Santa in a life-sized snow globe. Santa wearing a face mask. And, of course, Zoom Santa. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Bill Sandeen, dressed as Santa Claus, waits for cars at a drive-thru Santa selfie station at Glittering Lights, a drive-thru holiday lights display in Las Vegas, on Dec. 11, 2020. In this socially distant holiday season, Santa Claus is still coming to towns (and shopping malls) across America but with a few 2020 rules in effect. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Bill Sandeen, dressed as Santa Claus, waits for cars at a drive-thru Santa selfie station at Glittering Lights, a drive-thru holiday lights display in Las Vegas, on Dec. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Associated Press
first published: Dec 18, 2020 01:44 pm

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