Monday, December 20, 2010

Santa Flaws

For the past few Christmases, Petsmart has hosted a fundraising event at its North Vancouver and Grandview Highway stores. It is called "Photos With Santa", and for ten or eleven dollars, customers can purchase a framed Christmas photo of Fluffy or Fido sitting on Pere Noel's lap (or, if they'd rather, they can buy a picture of their dog or cat with the Big Guy). This year, some of the funds raised will go to VOKRA, the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association.

On the Sunday before last, the Tall Lady and I went to the North Van store to be Photo Elves, and I got to take a picture of Santa Bruce with five very patient and well-behaved cats on his lap. Let's see the United Nations top that one!

Last Sunday, we volunteered at the Grandview store, where one of us would take the pictures, while the other wore the Red Suit. In answer to the question, which was done by whom, I will only say that Santa required no additional padding on Sunday afternoon.

Now, Karen Duncan takes VOKRA's fundraising events very, very seriously, and the volunteer she puts in charge of them is always one of her bravest and mightiest warriors. On Sunday, we had two (Shelley and Paula), and we also had Karen herself nearby in case either of them faltered or fell. With all of the other elves who turned up for the shift, there were times when the VOKRA volunteers outnumbered the customers.

Our shift began at 1:30 pm, and at 1:31, the Tall Lady discovered that her camera's white balance refused to be set for the store's fluorescent lights. At 1:32, the memory cards that had been provided by Petsmart decided that they didn't like her snooty digital SLR. It was around 2:15 that both printers began running out of ink, and by the time that the cartridges were replaced at 2:45, we'd also run out of picture frames. The prices for the photos were lowered to five dollars, and that's when the lineup really started!

Most of the dogs and all of the puppies loved the white pompom on Santa's cap, so Karen, Shelley, Paula and the Tall Elf's other helpers spent the better part of the afternoon rescuing, repairing and replacing that particular bit of the costume.

Our friend Norma, who got to play Santa at a similar event a few years ago, still wakes up screaming when she recalls the taste and smell of the manky, old nylon beard in her nightmares. It is the same beard, Norma, it is the same beard...

All of the costumes are beginning to show their age, and the one that our Santa wore had one particular tired trouser seam, which threatened to earn this year's fundraiser a PG rating, and Santa a place on the VPD Naughty List for 2010.

When we finished at four o'clock, I saw someone I recognised leaving the store, and I followed him across the parking lot to his vehicle to say hello. My friend Lawrence is a tough, level-headed realist, who has no time for any sort of nonsensical whimsy. If he ever had a fanciful bone in his body, he's probably broken it. People who know him would have paid a high premium to have seen the expression on Lawrence's face when Santa Claus knocked on the driver's side window of his red pickup truck.

Thanks to all of the cats and dogs, their people, the Petsmart staff and the VOKRA volunteers for making this event work. While we had long lineups, hitches, glitches and nearly catastrophic costume failure, we also had wonderful poses, cold, wet noses, wagging tails and big, sloppy puppy kisses. Everyone is going on the Nice List this year.

Nobody growled, snapped, snarled, piddled on Santa's lap or tried to bite the Photo Elves. As a matter of fact, Karen has been a good girl all year.

Let's do it again next Christmas!


  1. I can just imagine the look on Lawrence's face when being confronted by Santa. It was probably like a bad flashback where his Naughty past was catching up with him, and Santa was about to collect on a karmic debt. I bet he was relieved to find out that you were just a fill in for the Big Guy.

  2. Lawrence: Naughty or nice . . . or both? Anyway, sorry I was too choked up (with a cold) to come by with little Jess, but I see some other Schnauzer elves and friends were there . . . cuteness!

  3. As always,Limited Vision is such an enjoyable read.
    You have a way,Lee,of transporting the reader right into the center of the activity and the fun.
    Kudos,VOKRA for your success!
    MariLynn Steiman