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The 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!