Santa Spreads Joy by Using Sign Language

Sharing the holiday spirit with all children.

Dec 20, 2022
Santa Spreads Joy by Using Sign Language | Sharing the holiday spirit with all children.

The Christmas spirit is alive and well in all languages, including American sign Language (ASL). That’s because a New Braunfels ,Texas-based Santa is spreading joy across the US by using sign language to communicate with children who are deaf or hard of hearing, reported TODAY.

 Charles Graves, 52, is a professional certified Santa and he is a member of the deaf community. He’s traveling to different appearances across the country and is one of very few Santas who can communicate with deaf children.

 “When they come here... and that child sees a deaf Santa Claus, there’s so much happiness,”  Graves told TODAY using a translator.

Why be Santa?
Graves, or Santa Charles as he likes to be called, said that he was inspired to grow his beard and put on the Santa suit, because of an awkward experience he had with hearing Santas when he was a child, reported AP News.

“As a child, I was very excited to receive a gift, but then you just kind of go away and you’re like, there’s no connection there. Children look at me now and they’re like, wow, you know, there’s a connection there with the deaf culture. And I can always connect with the hearing kids as well,” Graves told AP News.

When he’s not being Santa, Graves works at a school for deaf children, but its his interaction with kids during the Christmas season that brings him joy.

Inclusive Santas
Santas come in ages, sizes, and speak different languages. Some or the people portraying jolly old St Nick are even women. Large Santa Agencies like Hire Santa. The agency’s database contains several thousand professional Santas and includes placement in Bloomingdale’s flagship store in New York and Marriot properties, according to Hire Santa’s founder Mitch Allen.

He said that his agency is seeing more requests in 2022 for inclusive Santas including African Americans, Spanish speaking, and deaf performers. He even has a woman Santa on speed dial.

One woman, Melissa Rickard, 48, from Little Rock, Arkansas ,became a Santa in her 20s when the person hired by her father for his lodge was ill.

“To have a child not be able to tell I’m a woman in one sense is the ultimate compliment because it means I’m doing Santa justice. It cracks my husband up,” Rickard said.  “I know there are more of us out there.”

The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota has six St Nicks including two that are black, one who is Asian and visits in Spanish and Cantonese are also possible.  This year is shaping up to be the most inclusive ever.

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.