Memories Of Being Santa’s Daughter (Niece, Cousin, Wife…)

December 25th, 2021

This circa 1965 picture of six years old me sitting in Santa’s lap is awkward now in light of my becoming Mrs. Claus some 50 years later.
My two collies, Devon and Dover, pulling Santa’s sleigh in 2019.

By Karen England, the Edgehill Herb Farmer.

Who wore it better? This Santa (my dad) wears red shorts in summer.
Who wore it better? This Santa (my cousin) wears shorts in summer with his suit.
My Santa dad (left) and Santa cousin (right).

In December of 1998 I wrote a story called Santa’s Daughter – A Merry Christmas Tale (this was long before there was a Hallmark Channel! Otherwise, my little tale could have been made into a Hallmark Christmas movie by now!) that I sent out as a Christmas card to all my family, friends and colleagues and I’m revisiting that little story this year in light of the closure of our family’s business, Sunshine Gardens nursery, after 50 years in Encinitas, CA, owned and operated, then and now, by my cousin Ron, better known as Sunshine Santa, and the formal end on December 31st of my nine year stint as Sunshine’s Mrs. Claus.

Although I stand by my original story, a lot has changed since I wrote it and someday I might write a sequel.

One of my numerous cousins who received the card in ‘98 complained loudly that I ignored altogether my aunt, her mother, my dad’s sister, in my story and that my cousin firmly believes that her mom was “The Santa Claus” completely contradicting my story and knocking on its head any commonly held beliefs about the gender of Saint Nicholas (in any era, including non-binary 2021, let alone back in 1998.)

That said, I heard my cousin’s argument and dismissed it as farfetched, mostly because I knew her mom, who was, without a doubt, generous in the extreme, as well as a list maker extraordinaire – her naughty and nice lists were epic! But in the end, the reason I don’t think that my aunt was Santa Claus has nothing to do with gender and everything to do with the fact that she was Crotchety (with a capital C!) Don’t get me wrong, she was a perfectly lovely aunt, even as a curmudgeon, and I loved her dearly but her as Santa? Not feeling it.

Santa and his daughter, me. c. 2012


By Karen England

First published as a Christmas card, December 1998.

As everyone knows, I am one of many cousins. This fact is practically the sum total of my identity – that is, except for the fact that I am also . . . Santa’s Daughter. Many of my cousins have very good arguments of their own that their particular paternal parent is in fact “The Santa Claus” (actually – an argument can be made, albeit weak, that even one of my cousins might be Saint Nick) but I believe that my argument is the strongest of them all, and I offer the following proof that, my dad, Ernie Richter, is “The Santa Claus”.

The known facts about Santa Claus are: he’s a large, jovial, bearded man whose ethnic roots are European. Santa looks good in the color red and has a tendency to wear hats. Santa likes mail, has a wife and elfin help. He resides at the North Pole and rides around in a sleigh with eight, possibly nine, tiny reindeer. He’s a saint, with a generous heart and a limited work schedule. These are the undisputed, stipulated facts about Saint Nick.

With the known facts about Santa in mind, it is easy to see that the similarities between Santa and my Dad are more than coincidence. My Dad and several of my uncles (as well as, a couple cousins) are all large, jovial, bearded men with European ancestry. However, of these, my Dad is the one with the large hat wardrobe and a propensity for wearing red. These facts, in and of themselves, prove nothing, but – when added to the other facts, such as, my Dad was a holiday mailman with the U.S. Postal Service and he’s married to an elfin wife, then the evidence starts to become overwhelming.

My argument that Ernie Richter is “The Santa Claus” is at its weakest when his address is considered. He lives in paradise (San Diego County, California) and owns no livestock. Actually, none of the possible “real Santas” in my family tree live at the North Pole own reindeer (probably making the point moot). However, this problem is simply solved by understanding, that in order to have a normal home life, Santa has a “decoy” home and workplace (i.e., the North Pole), sparing his family, neighbors, and friends the craziness of his holiday work. This would be the same problem-solver for all the possible “Santas” I know. Alas, the reindeer are unfathomable and I offer no explanation – some things will always remain mysterious when it comes to Christmas.

Of course, I saved the most powerful similarity for last and this particular similarity is where the strong arguments of my cousins (Linda and Eric especially) lose credence that their dads might be “The Santa Claus”, in that – Santa Claus and Ernie are saints! Both are “men of the (red) cloth”, preaching the good news of Jesus Christ. And, although my entire family is extremely generous, it is my dad alone who has claim to ministerial gifts, as well as a limited work schedule.

I think that this is sufficient proof that I am Santa’s daughter! And no matter what, when all is said and done, even if I’m not Santa’s daughter, then I must be Santa’s niece or cousin, and any of those (Santa) suit me just fine.

The end.

(Please send all criticism, arguments to the contrary and bills incured, to Karen England, Santa’s Daughter. North Pole.)

The first time I played Mrs. Claus was in 1989 at Nordstrom where another salesperson, unrelated to me, played Santa for a special store event. My real Mr., David, came to see us perform our Kringle duties.

Merry Christmas to all! May all your memories be happy!

Yep! Santa is wearing shorts while working in the poinsettia greenhouse during this advertising shoot for the Sunshine Gardens “Santa Grown” poinsettias back in 2013.

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