Kris Kringle, kabbie

Jini and daughter Aliya sit with Santa

Jini and daughter Aliya sit with Santa at the Malvern
Town Centre. “She asked for the Leapster. It’s to get her into
the groove of all those hand-held games she doesn’t need.”
Photo credit: Uriel Mendoza

Santa’s been busy, travelling to Peterborough, Yorkdale and he even has a place in Oshawa — but he’s finally made his way back home to Malvern.

For the past 15 years, Peter Davey has donned the big red Santa jumpsuit every December to the delight of children everywhere. But after spending a few years away from the Malvern Town Centre, it’s good to be back.

“It’s a little more personal and a lot more relaxed,” Davey said. “The pressure at Yorkdale (mall) is just phenomenal.”

Davey used to live in the Lawrence and Midland avenues area 10 years ago until he moved to Oshawa.

Making memories

Anybody who wears that big suit and the heavy beard under the scalding lights everyday during the weeks leading up to Christmas has to have a lot of holiday spirit in them. And what exactly does the holiday mean to Davey?

“Christmas is about getting the family together, the atmosphere, decorations, the food, and the celebration,” he said. “I try to teach these kids that rather than how many presents are under your tree, what matters is being with family.”

And that’s why he loves Christmas stockings.

“Stocking stuffers are so much more exciting than what Santa brought you. For years my mom would send me stocking stuffers, and since she passed away a few years ago my sister has continued the tradition and I love it.”

Now that his own kids are all grown up, Davey has a generation of grandchildren to awe and inspire with the power of his beard and Santa suit.

“I’ll never forget the one year I went down to visit my daughter in Niagara Falls,” he recalls with a grin that shines through the big white beard. “I scared the daylights out of my grandson.

“But when I took the suit off and he saw that it was me, he became so fascinated with me that whenever he saw me put on the suit he wanted to be my helper. He got a kick out of it.

“But I told him, ’Jordan, remember when I’m in the suit, I’m Santa; when I’m out of the suit, I’m grandpa.’”

This year, Davey plans on being in Niagara with Jordan and his mother, though Jordan’s 13 now – not quite Santa’s little helper anymore.

Davey pulls off the look very well; he’s got every Santa detail covered from the hat to the belt and even the little glasses that cover a tiny fraction of his face. The suit triggers a Pavlovian response that begs one to shout out every Christmas wish like something out of a Robert Munsch book.

’Full of spirit’

Many fall for the misconception that Santa still drives a sleigh, but in actuality, it’s just your run-of-the-mill taxi cab that gets him to all of those houses in one night. Davey gets compliments on his Santa gig from customers all the time.

“Customers are full of spirit,” he said. “Some get stressed out, especially the single mothers, but that’s when the Santa persona just comes out … I can’t help it.”

So on Christmas Eve this year, make sure you leave a nice tip to go with those milk and cookies for Santa.