"Do it for me buddy... just once. I think you'd make a great Santa"
Growing up I was blessed to have experienced several Christmas Eve's with all of my cousins, Aunts, and Uncles all getting together at Grandma's house to celebrate Christmas. What made this even better was we always had SANTA come to visit before the night ended!
Years later I would of course find out that this was an Uncle who was donning the jolly red suit and walking up and down the street of my Grandma's house visiting with everyone. He would let me know later that he always visited with others in the neighborhood because he knew some of the families didn't have the money to go see the mall Santa. He loved being Santa.
Unfortunately medical concerns and the passing of my Grandma led to him not wearing the suit as often as he did... but his love of Christmas never died. During one of his visits with Mom we had a chat about his years as Santa and he let me know he had always hoped I'd (along with another cousin) take up the role as Santa within the family when I got old enough. I admitted to him that I didn't think I would make a good Santa, but he made me promise that I would do it... at least once. I'll never forget him saying "do it for me buddy... just once. I think you'd make a great Santa."
That Uncle lost his fight to cancer on December 11, 2012. Before he passed though I was able to make my promise to him over the phone: "I'm going to do it. I'm going to get me a suit and I'm going to become Santa for you and to honor what you did for all those years."
Mom said it was the first time he had smiled that day.
That year for Christmas, just a few weeks after his passing, we had Christmas and there was a package under the tree for me that had a simple tag on it that said "To Honor Uncle Bo."
The following year I started to wear this Santa suit for people and events. It sparked a love I had as a child that is known today as “cosplay” as a character, but I like to think about it as a “causeplay” because I wear this suit for a purpose.
The purpose of the Nice List is for me to use my love of causeplay as a way to bring joy to a holiday that can bring sadness, depression, and unfortunately even darker thoughts.
I, personally, have lost several family members around the holiday, including my Father in the early morning hours after the Blackest Black Friday I had ever experienced.
If anyone had a reason to not want to celebrate this holiday, it’s me.
I choose to write the Nice List... and to check it twice.
We have grown so much since 2012 that I know what started as a promise to wear the suit once or twice in December has now become an officially recognized 501(c)3 non profit organization founded in Huntington, WV.
We have worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central WV, Madison West Virginia's All Star Wrestling, Wounded Warriors, podcast and charitable group The Standard Nerds, and Team Cure Cancer so far in our existence. We hope to work with many more organizations in the future.
So this is our story so far... will you help put your name on the Nice List?