Tonight millions of children will lay down in bed thinking about one thing -- Santa Claus. And as old St. Nick puts on his red suit and harnesses his reindeer, he’ll be bringing a special blanket given to him at a family gathering in Overland Park to keep his lap warm this Christmas. Next year, Santa plans to pass that blanket on as a special gift.
Each year, Kelly and Brian Clark, gather family and friends together a few weeks before Christmas for a special visit with Santa Claus. Santa looks like he’s walked straight off of a Christmas card and into the Clark’s house. Kelly says having Santa at her house makes it feel like she’s a kid again
“Santa just feels magical regardless of how old you are,” says Kelly Clark.
At the house, Santa walks past tables piled high with cookies and settles into a large, leather chair, flanked by a fireplace and a Christmas tree stretching to the ceiling. A dozen kids quickly gather on the floor in front of him and Santa gets down to business, calling each child to sit on his lap.
“Brooklyn, would you come see Santa?” he asks.
After the barrage of requests for present is over, Santa gets his own gift. He shows the kids the red and white fleece blanket with jingle bells on the tassels. Santa says the blanket will keep his lap warm as he delivers presents tonight.
Kelly explains the blanket is part of a tradition her mom started a few years ago when she found out Santa made special visits to sick children.
“She was aware that it might be a good idea for her to go ahead and start contributing blankets to Santa, so that he could really leave a piece of himself with those families,” says Kelly.
Kelly’s mother and daughter, Ainsley Clark, make the blankets. Ainsley says it’s one of her favorite things about Christmas.
“It’s fun because you just get to tie the fabric together and it’s just really fun to do with your friends and family,” Ainsley says.
Santa says last year’s blanket went to an 8-year-old girl named Bailey Bennett in Oak Grove, Mo. She’s battling cancer this Christmas.
“I took the blanket to Bailey,” says Santa. “And put it on Bailey’s shoulders and wrapped her up in it tight so it would help keep her warm.”
But Santa tells the kids it’s more than just Santa Claus and the Clark’s blanket helping Bailey. People from all over the world have rallied around Bailey and Peppermint, a special elf on the shelf from Santa. Peppermint’s fans have been sending in photos as the elf goes on adventures across the country or even gets into a little trouble at home.
Santa tells the kids that Peppermint the elf stole the Oak Grove Mayor’s Christmas tree and put it in Bailey’s front yard. Peppermint wound up in handcuffs, and Santa had to throw his weight around on the elf’s behalf.
“They dropped the charge from stealing to unauthorized borrowing,” Santa explains.
Santa says though he does most of his work at this time of year, the Christmas spirit of giving is needed every day.