For most people by January 2, the gifts have been exchanged or returned, thank you notes written, diets started, and all the decorations put away until next year, putting a close to the holiday season.
But that is definitely not the case for EIOH Dental Assistant Bert Buettner, who has always held a special place in his heart for Santa. So much so, that he began a collection of Santa figures when he was in middle school. Today, his collection has grown impressively and is an amazing sight to see. He and his family open their home every year to his co-workers and friends to share in the holiday joy and carry on the unique delight and enhancement that only Santa Claus can offer.
The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back hundreds of years to a monk named St. Nicholas. It is believed that Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey. Much admired for his piety and kindness, St. Nicholas became the subject of many legends. For more about the history of Santa: http://www.history.com/topics/christmas/santa-claus
A conversation with Bert about his collection:
Q. When did you start and how long have you been collecting Santas?
A. I’ve been collecting Santas for almost 40 years, starting in the mid to late 1970’s.
Q. What was your very first Santa?
A. My first Santa was a pillow that my mom bought that was a pattern and you fill it with stuffing. (see photo)
Q. How many Santas do you have now?
A. I have close to 3,000. I usually have more than 1,000 out at Christmas time, in most of the rooms of the house. I have many that I buy new that I don't put out and just collect because I like them. I also have some that I cannot put out anymore because I don't have the room to do so.
Q. What kinds of Santas do you have?
A. I have all kinds of Santas--I have paper ones, glass, toys, candles, ties, socks, underwear, shirts, suspenders, blankets, rugs, plates, silverware, cookie tins, wooden ones. You name it I probably have one.
Q. Which ones are your particular favorites and why?
A. I have a porcelain set of salt and pepper shakers that my parents had and it is one of my favorite sets. I like it because we used them when we were children at home, and we still use them when we go to my mom’s. My dad gave me the first set of them for my collection. I now have about 17 sets of them. I also have an original 1942 coke cardboard stand up Santa which I really like. I really like the coke Santas. I like the way the artist paints the Santa figures.
Q. You host a party every year for the residents/friends/family?
A. I have it in January because it gives the residents time to get back from their home countries from the holiday break. Many have suggested I should have it before Christmas, but I usually don't have them all put out until a couple of days before Christmas.
Q. Does your family embrace your love for collecting Santas?
A. Some of them do and some don't. My mother really loves them and paints some really pretty ones for me. It can get a bit overwhelming for my wife.
Q. What do you remember when you learned the truth about Santa?
A. That is one thing I have never done I still believe in Santa because I have to. Look around my house and you have to still believe.
Q. Will you sell the collection someday, or do you hope it carries on to great grandchildren?
A. I have no plans on selling my Santa collection, unless someone is going to give me a great deal of money to make it worth selling. I have sold some and I donate ones that I don't care for but that does not happen often. I will leave the collection to my family so their children can enjoy them.