CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Make no mistake. Even during the dog days of July, the man in red rarely takes a break. Old St. Nick doesn’t spend his summers chilling in the North Pole. His refuge is more Midlothian Turnpike than Santa’s Lane.
“I’m Santa Claus of course,” said Ron Despain. “I make people happy. Not just children but the adults.”
At Kathy’s Kopies and Santa’s Chest in Chesterfield stockings are hung with care and Christmas lasts all year long. St. Nick and Mrs. Claus help customers ship presents around the globe. No sleigh required.
“It is our life. It really is our life,” said Ron. “Think of all of those toys that need to be made. It starts December 26th for the next year. We’re busy.”
Ron and Kathy DeSpain from Powhatan assumed their alter egos in 2010.
“The transition happened eight years ago when I fell under the Claus,” said Ron.
It is a 365-day job with huge expectations.
“Fortunately, what we’re passionate about is what we have to do and what we want to do,” said Ron. “I couldn’t do it without her."
Together for 38 years and parents of five children, the Despains or Clauses relish the responsibility.
The Clauses visit with disabled children and aging veterans across central Virginia.
“You can’t even describe it. It just makes you feel. You’re heart just bursts,” said Kathy Despain.
Serving others is a familiar calling for this former Marine of 24 years. Yes, being Santa and Mrs. Claus is lots of work. But the rewards are immeasurable.
“When you go into the grocery store or anywhere we go you see kids and parents say, ‘Is it him? Is it him. Could it be,’” said Kathy.
“There are people who may not understand what I have in my heart. But what I have in my heart is more than money could buy,” said Ron.
Christmas may be five months away. And snow has given way to sweltering heat. But the jolly old elf and his trusted sidekick are counting the days together.
“We’re inseparable. There is no other way to put it. We’re inseparable,” said Kathy.
If you believe. Yes, Virginia there really is a Santa Claus. Right in our own backyard.
“When you find something that makes people happy in life. That is what it is all about,” said Ron.
If you know of someone with an interesting story to tell, email Greg McQuade.