Updated: Dec 10, 2019
Santa, as we Americans know him, is not intuitively a good fit for Green School. Normally Santa Claus is found at a crap mall surrounded by plastic junk but my kids were missing him so I needed to bring his magic (minus consumerism!) to the tropics. In our Green School version, Saint Nick's sleigh isn't burning fossil fuels, he pays his elves fair wages, his toys are made from bamboo, and his cookies don't contain palm oils.
It was a bit of a surprise to learn that Green School doesn't have a typical Santa Claus routine for the young kids. In fact, I had to send out messages to all the parents asking if a visit from Santa would be OK and promising that he would be 100% secular. Not even a smidge of the "real meaning of Christmas" would be worked in. A lot of kids here are muslim, hindu, hodgepodge or totally off the grid. We are devout atheists so no problem on our end making Santa a jolly fat guy handing out cookies and singing jingle bells in the jungle.
I believe Kipper means Christmas. If not, WTF does Kipper mean?
Once all the parents of both preschool and kindy classes confirmed that Santa could visit, we had to find a costume rental and human willing to put on said costume in tropical heat. Julia's Costumes in Canggu had a complete velvet (lined!!) costume with beard, belt, belly padding, and black boots. When I saw they had an adorable elf costume too...sold. My oldest daughter played Santa's elf and she passed out his cookies in classic one-for-you, one-for-me tradition.
Finding someone to play Santa on a tropical island is a bitch. Most men with a lick of common sense realize that wearing velvet (did I mention lined??) costume with full beard and having sticky, sweaty little kids sit in your lap is less enjoyable than a morning surfing. I asked several local Balinese to be Santa but they all said Santa was too scary (seriously?) and they didn't know much about him or any of his songs.
But we roped Kipper, one of my favorite Green School parents, and he killed it. Yes, he went commando. And yes, he almost died of heatstroke. But it was so worth it. By the time he took the costume off it was soaking wet. Poor guy.
Aside from Kipper surviving 90 minutes as Father Christmas in insanely hot tropical heat and Lovely not blowing his cover, the miracle of the day was that only 3 kids out of 70 had actual gifts on their list. About half the kids said they wanted nothing for Christmas. The rest wanted chocolate, an extra cookie, or a kiss from a mermaid. Beyond sweet. The dozen or so kids who literally had no idea who Santa was really rolled with it. And that's the thing about Green School that never ceases to impress: the openness of the kids to experience whatever comes their way.