COVID didn’t stop Christmas (or Santa)

Santa Claus made two visits to Tracy this holiday season — one at Greenwood Nursery and one at the motorcycle shop on the highway — proving that not even a pandemic can stop Christmas. Photo / Per Peterson

By Per Peterson

The spirit of Christmas is alive and well all over, despite the fact that we’re living under the cloud of a pandemic. And nothing says Christmas more than a visit from Santa Claus.

Although this year’s festivities are different from what would be considered “normal” years, Christmas images abound — from lights on houses and light poles, to the face of Christmas himself, who has spent a lot of time this month making sure the piece of coal known as COVID-19 won’t dampen the Christmas spirit.

“It’s so different now,” Santa said during his second visit to Tracy on Dec. 12. “Kids don’t understand this — all they know is they can’t see their friends as much, they can’t do this, they can’t do that. They can’t even come up and tell Santa what they want for Christmas.”

But that hasn’t stopped the city of Tracy from keeping the holiday spirit alive. While social distancing has taken away some of the fun of the Christmas season, it hasn’t totally prevented kids from seeing Santa. During his latest visit to Tracy, Santa was separated from the kids by a pane of glass at the motorcycle shop on the highway. Santa said a big part of Christmas is kids being able to sit on his lap and give him a hug, and that’s missing this year.

“I can’t even give them a fist bump or anything — it’s a sad deal, but at least I’m here and we can do something,” said Mr. Claus. “I’ve had to communicate with kids through actions, rather than with touch or being able to hold them on my lap and listen to what they want for Christmas.”

Santa said he’s had a hard time getting used to the new rules and can only imagine how difficult it is for youngsters when they are prevented from interacting with him. He added that a number of people still asked for home visits this year and that he’s obliged when he can.

“If they require masks, I wear a mask,” Santa said. “If they’re all inside and all wearing masks, I don’t have to. As long as the kids keep a distance, they can take photos, as many as they want.”