Female Santa invites kids of all ages to festive event

Carol Grammer as Santa and her granddaughterLike her mother, Carol Grammer couldn’t be more delighted about transforming into Santa.

“It is pure joy,” she said. “There is no other word for it.”

Kids and their Christmas wishes will take center stage from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, December 13 at Carle Auxiliary Resale Boutique on the corner of University and Lincoln avenues in Urbana. Children from the community are welcome to visit Santa and have their picture taken.

Grammer—who sets up merchandise displays and does other volunteer work at the resale boutique—admits she and her sisters were a bit unnerved when their mother started dressing up to help the big guy at the North Pole. As soon as they saw her spreading joy to adults and children alike, though, they were in.

That doesn’t mean they immediately followed suit.

After her mother passed away 25 years ago, Grammer asked for and received her mother’s Santa gear. Until about eight years ago, she used the jacket and the boots as holiday décor.

“It was certainly a conversation piece,” she said, adding she eventually bought her own beard and uniform and became Santa to take photos with her then-baby granddaughter, Lena.

Not one adult has commented to her about being a female Santa. Little boys, however, are more likely to speak up.

“Some children will do a double take, but they don’t say anything. Sometimes a little guy will say, ‘Oh, you’re a lady’ and then get on with the business of talking to Santa,” she said.

“Children and even the adults who come see me are delightful. I think you forget who you are when you’re seated on Santa’s lap. You just believe.”

It’s easy to believe Grammer, who always carries the special key she uses to gain entry to homes that don’t have a fireplace, as well as a set of rusty skeleton keys for the reindeer barn.

Complete with jingle bells to ring and candy canes to share, Grammer is proud of a so-far sterling part of her Santa reputation.

“I have never had a crier,” she said. “Although some will gaze at me from the back of the line, and I can tell they’re not too sure what to think.”

Grammer recommends others experience the joy of doing what she does.

“If you ever have the opportunity to portray Santa or an elf or a reindeer, do it,” she said. “It’s the perfect holiday disguise to reap from children the true meaning of Christmas.”