Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories – Santa Claus and the Evidence of Believing

This is a continuing post for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories which is hosted by GeneaBloggers as a means to encourage family historians to write about their holiday traditions. Today’s prompt is Santa Claus. 

I checked the word 'believe' in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary today.  It said that to believe is "to accept something as true, genuine, or real."  Furthermore, it means "to accept the evidence of."  Then it struck me, as a genealogist, I am always searching for evidence!

So, instead of "sugarplums dancing in my head," the phrase "There is no truth without proof" resounds.  What I need is evidence.

I do not have any recollection of writing or visiting the magical Santa Claus so I looked though my old photos to help trigger any long forgotten memory.  I found this photo, (no memory triggered here), but it's documented proof that I actually visited Santa.

Frank's Daughter and Santa Claus
ca. 1959
I then looked at my own life and recall receiving many gifts signed, "Santa Claus."  All my siblings and other family members received gifts signed by Santa as well.  Those gift tags have long since been lost (by fire, trash compactor, etc.)

As for his magical qualities, I have to surmise that they exist because how else could I be standing right next to the jolly old elf in Virginia while my husband and his brothers are posed next to him in a similar photo, at the same time, but across the continent in California.

But again, as the family genealogist, the more records I gather, the more confidence I gain to the truthfulness of his existence.  One usually leaves some kind of paper trail; therefore, I turn to historical records.

With the help of FamilySearch, I found Santa Claus on the 1930 U.S. Census living in Marshall, Missouri with other family members but it lists him born in 1888.  I'm not sure, but I believe Santa Claus should be older than this guy (b. abt. 220 A.D.), so perhaps this guy is a cousin or was just named after the famous Claus. There were a couple of other similar occurrences on the U.S. Social Security Death Index - those weren't promising.

This was tough work so I decided to seek guidance on how to determine what kind of proof should suffice.  I typed in a couple of search parameters in Google and found the Genealogical Proof Standard.  I read though its required elements and decided that this is my hobby not my profession!  It's too much work for this article and way too much work to find solid evidence of Santa Claus who is not even in my family tree.  Furthermore, as Thomas MacEntee mentions in the How it Works section of theAdvent Calendar, this is meant to be fun not a burden.

Therefore, I will just take the easy route and just 'believe' with the few facts I have on hand, the historical evidence of my own Christmas past, and let the professional genealogist or the Claus family historian hunt for the proof of this mythical, magical man called Santa Claus.

©2011 – Frank’s Daughter All Rights Reserved


  1. Great post! Sometimes you just have to BELIEVE!

  2. Since Santa Claus is in the census, I wonder if he is participating in any DNA project. This is a fun post.

  3. What a fun post! Clever! Cute pic, too!

  4. Many thanks! I really wasn't sure where I was going with this post until I realized I was way over my head!