In 2018, I established a Chestnut Orchard called Gobbler Ridge Chestnuts. My Wife and I wondered if we could look like Mr. and Mrs. Claus by the time the Chestnuts were ready to market. After all, who hasn't heard the velvety tones of Nat King Cole singing "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire....?"
This led me to create the persona of Ken Kringle, Santa's Brother, since my beard wasn't "as white as the snow" just yet. In lieu of the "Red Suit," I wore Christmas themed sport coats to my events. One fateful night I stopped into Walmart to pick up a few items still dressed in my Christmas Suit.
As luck would have it, I passed a Mother with her young Daughter sitting in the back of a shopping cart. Her Daughter was around 4 years old, and I could tell she had some developmental disabilities. She leapt from her seated position and clutched the side of the cart with all the strength she could muster, rising toward me on her tippy toes. I instantly knew who she had just seen in her mind. I slipped my hat on and knelt beside her right there in the store. The next five minutes were a blur as she excitedly "talked my ears off." I could see a crowd gathering around us with their cell phones videotaping every word of our interaction.
I finally eased away and blew her a kiss as I disappeared down an aisle. She was now standing at the end of the cart longing to keep me there for all she was worth. I knew as I waved goodbye that I had made a special holiday memory for her and her Mother. But I was the one most affected and changed by this chance encounter. For in those moments, this beautiful little girl gave me Santa.
I knew that I had just received a higher calling and I was destined to bring this magic to children for the rest of my days. The next year, I graduated from the Northern Lights Santa Academy, and I am now known to the world as Santa Kristopher Ken Kringle. But for those that really get to know me and become my friend.....they get to call me Ken Kringle for ever more.......