Filed Under:

Santa Claus Is Driving To Town

Play associated audio

Boyd Applegate never set out to become a real bearded Santa Claus. No, the calling found him.

The 56-year-old, who was last on StoryCorps talking about volunteering at the polls on Election Day, is a big-rig truck driver. He's logged nearly 5 million miles on the road.

"Santa Claus was a byproduct of truck driving," he explained to his sister, Rhonda Dixon, at StoryCorps. "Because I drive a truck, I can have a beard that's a little bit longer than most people."

But impressive facial hair wasn't enough to qualify him for the trade.

Years ago, while on the road, Applegate stopped by a Wal-Mart because his head was cold. He serendipitously spotted a rack of Santa hats, picked one up and plopped it on his head. Moments later, a 4-year-old boy walking with his mother yanked her to a stop and exclaimed, "Look, it's Santa!"

Applegate hasn't spent a single Christmas Eve or Christmas Day at home with his family in the 18 years since that encounter.

"I'm usually in a rented red convertible, and I do under-the-tree gift deliveries that are designed for children to wake up and catch me in the middle of the process," Applegate explained.

He makes about 15 to 20 home visits between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and even has regulars he drops by to see every year. Party appearances — including for the military — are also annual rituals.

And this night-time pastime isn't a means to collect extra cash. Applegate refuses to accept money for his gift-giving and pays for the car rental himself.

"What are some of your favorite moments doing Santa Claus over the years?" Dixon asked her brother.

"One young lady wanted me to be her new stepfather," Applegate recalled. "One young lady wanted me to provide her a maid."

He even voyaged down to Tijuana, Mexico — a site he expects to return to this year — despite not knowing the language.

"In fact one year, when I was coming back, this young man comes running up to the side of the car. And when he saw me, his eyes opened, and his jaw dropped," Applegate said. "I gave him a really jolly, 'Ho, ho, ho,' and I handed him this gift."

A guard at the border had spotted the act and told Applegate, "You really must be Santa, and tonight I can't stop you, so go ahead."

One of the biggest mistakes you can make as Santa Claus, Applegate said, is to not believe yourself.

"When I walk out of the house in my suit, I cease being me, and I absolutely am Santa," he said.

It doesn't bother him if he encounters a skeptical teenager or if someone yanks on his beard.

"What matters the most to me is I believe," he said. "Santa Claus is truly the most important thing in my life."

Audio produced for Morning Edition by Michael Garofalo and recorded in partnership with KPBS.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Texas Bookseller Picks 3 Summer Reads

Julia Green of Front Street Books recommends Moonlight on Linoleum by Terry Helwig, City of Women by David R. Gillham and The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly.
NPR

He Used To Live On The Streets Of Mumbai. Now, His Cafe Welcomes Everyone

Amin Sheikh's new cafe is a rarity in class-stratified India: It's open to people from all walks of life. Sheikh is a former street child, and so are many of his employees.
NPR

For Many Black Voters, Trump's 'What Do You Have To Lose?' Plea Isn't Enough

Donald Trump promises to help bring jobs and security to black neighborhoods. But his poll numbers with African-Americans are in the low single digits, and many say his message is insulting.
WAMU 88.5

A Cyber-Psychologist Explains How Human Behavior Changes Online

Dr. Mary Aiken, a pioneering cyber-psychologist, work inspired the CBS television series "CSI: Cyber". She explains how going online changes our behavior in small and dramatic ways, and what that means for how we think about our relationship with technology.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.