December 21, 2007

Bon Buddhist Santa Claus

buddhist_santa2.jpgThe following letter turned up at the Tricycle office in late November and we decided it would make a nice Christmas post for obvious reasons...

My name is Bob Anger and I have been a Buddhist for 36 years and a Bonpo for the last 14 years.  I was very fortunate to meet Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1971 and Deshung Rinpoche a year of so later.  Through the years I have met and studied with a number of other wonderful teachers.  For the last 10 years, or so, I have focused on the practices, teachings and tradition that Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche has presented.  I love him very much and he is my teacher. About 13 years ago I was asked to take over the Santa Claus duties in the small rural community of Topanga Canyon which is in the Santa Monica Mountains just north of the Los Angeles basin.  This request was made because my physical features resemble those of the jolly rotund elf in the red suit.  The elderly gentleman who had been doing Santa was getting too old to continue and I agreed to take it over.  Over the years I have only appeared as Santa Claus at community organizations for children and I do not ask to be paid.  Some years I have had up to 9 different events in the month of December. I work at 20th Century Fox Film Corporation where I am in charge of the grip department.  After a few years of borrowing a Santa suit from a friend and pieces like the belt and boots from the wardrobe department at work I wanted to find a better suit.  So the folks in the wardrobe department helped me to put together what I tell people is the finest Santa suit in the whole world!  Of course, I don’t know this for sure, but I am sure that it is a contender.  I have spent over $2,000.00 on the suit and the extra components. I love all of the holiday events where I appear as Santa, but my favorite for about the last 6 or 7 years has been at the Santa Monica Police Activities League which is sort of like the Boys & Girls Club.  It is run by the Santa Monica Police.  At their holiday party they have had close to 500 children and they provide a wrapped gift for each child and this aspect makes Santa’s job very fun.  But, the thing about this event that I love the most is how Santa is delivered to the party.  Santa arrives on top of the fire department’s large hook and ladder truck with the red lights flashing, the siren blaring and the children cheering! It is, of course, the children that inspire the effort and it is an extremely sweet experience to be close to the kids.  It is also very fun to fool them by creating the most believable Santa with whiskers they can pull!

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Lana Melzer --- Indiana's picture

you have to be the best Santa I have ever seen! and what fun it must be to give such pleasure and cheer to so many children ! I always enjoy our visits with you on our short trips to California... you have a special presence about you ! I am greatful for the wonderful friendship you have with our son Nick... we are all blessed to have you as part of our family !! thanks Santa Bob!!

Anonymous's picture

I think that you are the quintessential Santa...the gift giver. I always feel blessed by your company and support and am delighted to see you in your true colors.

Stephen Ledyard's picture

That ol' Bob! His heart is so big, not only does Santa Claus live in that well warmed space, but many other saints and sprites as well. Over here in the west coast sangha, we are always feeling the generosity of this sparkly eyed fellow. He is a hard working dude too, and dependable to bring the horses in on time, if you need the wrangler in Bob. But I always watch him from the corner of my eye, as well, because I know a coyote rambles through the red rock canyons of his heart, and you got to keep an eye on those tricksters, because they never let you rest for long if you're of a mind to hunker down and complain about your troubles. I think I hear him howlin' now!

Judith Gonda's picture

This is what Christmas is all about--magic and love! What a great way to celebrate Christmas, Bob. How nice of you to give your time to make so many children happy!

David Barnett's picture

I am impressed at how "like Santa" Bob looks...a real personification!!! AND, I am happy that Michael Trevorrow (my step son), has the privilege of knowing Bob...Merry those in sunny Santa Monica from us in chilly Pittsburgh, Pa

Kathy Barnett's picture

I am thrilled to see the photo of Bob since I haven't seen Bob since at least 1980 or before. I'm also selfishly pleased that Bob is still a friend of my son reminds me how fortunate Michael is to still be a part of Santa Monica. Happy Holidays, Bob. Fondly, Kathy Barnett

Michael Trevorrow's picture

I have known Bob since 1971 and he is one of the best examples of spirituality I know. Why? I was once told if you want to see a person's true level of spirituality, watch how he treats others. He makes everyone feel important when in his presence, by his attention and concern. This personification of generosity of spirit makes him a perfect Santa even when he isn't wearing the suit.

Marsha Camblin's picture


I love the picture of you with the Kids!

Paula and George's picture

For those of us who are lucky enough to call this wonderful Santa our friend, I send thoughts of gratitude into the universe and wish for EVERYONE such a dear friend. The spirit of giving, of service, of love and generosity pour in an infinite stream of love from this great man's heart. And his foxy elf Caryle is right up there with him! We love and adore you guys xoxooxoxoxox to infinity and beyondxoxoxoox!

victor regnier's picture

Keep up this tradition--it is really wonderful. What a great memory it must be for the thousands of children who have experienced it over the years!
and what a great gift to provide to them.

Jennifer Regnier's picture

That is by far the best Santa I have seen! What a wonderful thing to give to the community!

Robben Anger's picture

I'm so proud to call you dad!

Pam Ashley's picture

What a lovely gift to the world. Bless you. Pam