December 2011

Line in the Sand: Santa Claus

Author: Frank Dunne, Jr. and Courtney Hampson | Photographer: Photography by Anne


Yes, Courtney, there is a Santa Claus.

I know this because the Kringles are my neighbors. Yup, Santa’s workshop is just a few glaciers north of my Fortress of Solitude up in the Arctic. Nice folks. And the elves always invite me to their New Year’s party, which you’d have to see to believe. Those little guys sure know how to blow off steam after the Christmas rush. I definitely loosen the red cape a little for that one!

Okay, are the kids in bed yet? That Rankin/Bass Productions version was for their benefit, because I don’t think they’d like the rest of this. Don’t get me wrong, I really do believe in Santa, but not the one who slides down the chimney with a sack of toys. Seriously, if you could really hit every home in the world in one night, don’t you think there’d be an iPhone app for it by now? The real Santa Claus is there, though. You’ve just got to know where to look; but first you’ve got to recognize who Santa is not.

I know a bunch of you thought you voted for Santa Claus three years ago, only to discover that you really voted for the Grinch…but this Grinch’s heart didn’t grow three sizes that day. Now look at us. All the Whos down in Whoville are left with nothing but some hooks and some wire on the walls; the last can of Who Hash is gone, and there’ll be no roast beast to carve for the Christmas feast.

You see, children, you can’t find your way in the world, earn a living or become wealthy without any effort on your part (unless your name is Kennedy). The world doesn’t work that way. And if you believe Heat Miser, Snow Miser, and Burgermeister Meisterburger’s promises that you can if you vote for them, you’ll end up miserable on the Island of Misfit Toys with those ignorant, vile, lice-ridden reprobates calling themselves Occupy [Insert Name of City Here].

They seem to think…wait…strike that. They’re incapable of cognitive thought. They live under the delusion that Santa will fill their stockings with whatever they want if they destroy property and disrupt others’ lives, shout profanities, vapid slogans and racial slurs, and provoke violence. But look at them now, wallowing in their own excrement and finding nothing but America’s scorn in their stockings. Well, that and the Grinch’s enthusiastic support.

Kids, do you want to find the real Santa Claus? Think about this: you were born with the greatest gifts ever: your mind, your soul, and your free will. Plus, you live in the USA, history’s only nation founded on the idea that you are born with the right to use those gifts to pursue your aspirations, reap the rewards, and determine for yourself what to do with those rewards. Whether it’s providing for yourself and your family, buying a few toys, or giving it all away, it’s still up to you.

The point is, the real Santa Claus is between your own ears. This year, instead of making a list of things you want others to give you, make a list of things that you would like to make happen—in your own life or in the lives of others—this Christmas, next year, and beyond, and go for it.

Merry Christmas! Chanukah Samaech! Happy New Year! And God bless us every one! Especially you, Courtney.


I imagine there was some skepticism among my adoring fans after my anti-Halloween rant. However, in the spirit of the season, Frank and I decided that we would put a moratorium on our monthly war of words and, instead, celebrate this magical time of the year by coming to consensus.

It’s a Christmas miracle!

Of course there is a Santa Claus. In fact, this will be my 39th run-in with the jolly ol’ man. He and I will, once again, awkwardly navigate my perching on his knee (it got awkward when I surpassed the 100-pound mark), as I accept my first Christmas Eve gifts and smile for my mom’s camera, just as I have done for nearly four decades. It never gets old. And I love the tradition.

Of course there is a Santa Claus. Rudolph, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen certainly think so. If anyone knows the “weight” of this conundrum, it’s the nine of them.

A Facebook group of 200,000 people “believes in Santa Claus,” 8,676 books about Santa are available on, and each year the U.S. Postal Service receives hundreds of thousands of letters addressed to Santa.

Sometimes it may be hard to believe there is a Santa. I know you want to get into the spirit of all things merry and bright, but your tolerance level may not be able to handle a 90-day Christmas season. After all, Christmas, like most holidays (ahem, Halloween) has become an over-commercialized money-making scheme, aimed at making children greedy and leaving parents feeling inadequate because they can’t meet the need or the greed. Christmas decorations go up before the Halloween candy has even depleted. The “Christmas rush” takes on a whole new meaning when it starts in October, for crying out loud. (Right now Frank is saying, “Ah, there’s the Courtney we know and love to hate…”)

Could we maybe, just maybe, let Christmas come as it should? After Thanksgiving. (One holiday at a time please!) By making “the holidays” a little less pressure-filled and a lot more pleasant-filled, I think everyone may change their tune to fa la la la la.

You have to believe. If you have doubts, maybe you just aren’t looking hard enough. Santa exists here in Beaufort County within the thousands of caring hearts and minds who reach out this time of year to make the Christmas dreams of others come true. In 2010, the Toys for Tots campaign in our area collected 25,924 toys and an additional $21,200 in donations for less fortunate children in the Lowcountry and Coastal Empire. In 2010, Bluffton Self Help fulfilled the wishes of more than 1,000 children through their “adopt a family” program in which local families adopt another and assist in fulfilling children’s “Christmas lists.” Over the past 21 years, Furniture Warehouse Design Gallery’s annual coat drive has collected more than 37,000 gently-used coats for families in need at holiday time.

This year you can do more than believe. You, too, can be Santa. Yes, you! Clean out your closets. Dig deep! Those gently-used coats can be dropped off now through December 31 at the Furniture Warehouse Design Gallery, on 170 in Beaufort, and at the BB&T branch offices in Bluffton and on Hilton Head. Marine Corps Sgt. Michael Harris ( is looking for folks to assist with this year’s Toys for Tots efforts. Check out their website ( and plan to attend one of the 13 events planned in Beaufort County this month to benefit the charity. Visit to learn more about adopting a family for Christmas.

In The Miracle on 34th Street, Kris Kringle says, “Oh, Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind… and that’s what’s been changing. That’s why I’m glad I’m here; maybe I can do something about it.” Kringle goes on to prove that he is, indeed, Santa Claus. He convinces the court system, the U.S. Postal Service, the owner of Macy’s and the entire New York City metro-area population, proving that a little bit of spirit goes a long way.

Beliefs can’t usually be changed without proof. We have proof.

I believe.

  1. I think The Sun answered the question best. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. It should be required reading for all, what a great article.

    — Debbie McGee    Dec 9, 01:50 pm   

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