My family has a very large Christmas get-together every year in which there is a tradition where one of the cousins (aged 20-30) will dress up as Santa (Edit: "Santa" for this is very gender neutral - I am a guy, but anyone could be "Santa") , read out a bunch of announcements, put on a bit of an act and give presents to the kids. One of my cousins has happily taken up this role over the last 8 years, she does it very well and completely embraces the role.
This year, one of my Aunts that I am very close to was particularly upset about some personal issues with their daughter who could not make it this year (not Santa) and after some drinks she got the idea in her head that my cousin had been Santa more than enough and it was time for somebody else to have a go. I am easily the closest to this Aunt, and also known for being friendly/neutral with everyone so I am not surprised that I was the only candidate. She asked me 20 minutes before the presentation and I gave an immediate and hard no. It is not that I would not step up if I was really needed, it is just I knew that doing this would cause a huge amount of awkwardness among the cousins as the previous Santa would not say anything but would feel let down about her role being stolen, and nobody else wants to be Santa anyway, least of all me!
My Aunt got quite emotional, basically putting all her feelings about her daughter on my shoulders. She cried a bit, and got a bunch of others to back her up and tell me to do it otherwise she would leave the gathering immediately. So obviously I caved as I would rather stand up and do an awkward/lacking Santa impression than put a large sour mood on the gathering from my Aunt leaving "because I wouldn't be Santa". So forced myself to do it, and as with all things like putting up a show or speaking publicly, I absolutely hated it.
Afterwards there was some awkwardness with the cousins, but most knew I had been forced into it by my Aunt so it was not so bad. A few people thanked me for stepping up, and my Aunt came up to me and said I did well, but then critiqued all the very obvious flaws in my presentation. This was fairly upsetting for me, I know I am bad at public speaking, I am quiet, awkward and hate/suck at doing things where you need to have large exaggerated movements or fake being jolly and enthusiastic the whole time. I forced myself to do it for her, and I feel that if it is so important that I was Santa, then it is not really fair on me to complain about how bad it was, as although admittedly terrible, it was my best effort. Lastly, to my horror, she said that I had to do it next year too.
I will have plenty of chances to talk to her over the coming year. What can I say to her so the whole situation doesn't happen all over again next Christmas? She clearly still believes that the Santa role should be shared, and it will be a real struggle to convince her otherwise. My goals in order are:
- To get out of being Santa next year
- To make her understand why I think the old Santa should stay
- To let her know that being Santa this year was tough for me