Kids Say the Darndest Things to Santa Claus

25 Years of Santa Stories

Non-Fiction - Humor/Comedy
100 Pages
Reviewed on 09/26/2019
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Don Kennedy is a resident of Makaha Valley on Oahu, Hawaii and a long time resident of Nevada: Reno, Lake Tahoe & Las Vegas. Born and raised in Wisconsin, he's a graduate of Concordia College. Don was in the radio, TV and publication industry for a decade. For the past 35 years he's been a Marketing Executive in the hospitality, casino & resort business in 7 states. A proud Uncle of two nieces, a nephew, a great niece and great nephew, he also has an older brother. His special passion, the past 25 years, has been as a volunteer Santa Claus for charitable organizations who could not afford a Santa appearance. These included: women's & children's shelters, military bases, boys & girls clubs, hospitals, fire shelters, schools, churches and children's recreation centers. He's a member of the Hawaii Writer's Guild and NFL Alumni Association.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite

Kids Say the Darndest Things to Santa Claus by Don Kennedy is a charming and delightful collection of various moments he has experienced volunteering as Santa Claus. After a friend got sick and he filled in as Santa Claus for a Christmas party, Kennedy found an unexpected passion that would stay with him through the next several years. Kennedy has gathered together several memorable moments from kids that are funny and heartwarming while at times being heartbreaking and eye-opening, taken from his time volunteering for organizations such as fire shelters, hospitals, military bases, and women’s shelters.

On the surface, the book is a simple read that shares quick moments with kids that have made an impact on Don Kennedy when he was Santa, but this also serves as a great eye-opener and reminder about the Christmas spirit and hope that is inspired through these children. Each moment that Kennedy shares is a great example of the role Santa plays in the lives of children. Several moments included are funny while others are touching and will tug at the heart. The humor is delightful in an innocent way such as trying to pay their way off the naughty list, siblings telling on each other, or a boy calling his sister a pain. Kennedy perfectly captures how blunt and innocent kids are through the wonderful and special way they see the world around them.

The structure is organized based on the different locations that Kennedy has volunteered at. Each chapter explores various needs the children have from humorous concerns about the naughty list to more heartwarming needs such as wanting their soldier dad to come home. These heartful moments are deeply emotional with kids showing their wit and their heart which include charming moments such as asking Santa to dance with their mom because she’s been sad, wanting to visit a man in the hospital who doesn’t get visitors, and wanting to send a letter to heaven. Kennedy also shares a few personal stories during his time as Santa such as being pulled over by a cop, being puked on, getting diet advice, and the touching moments he’s been part of.

Kennedy’s stories are perfect for the holiday season and though it focuses primarily on the Christmas season, Kids Say the Darndest Things to Santa Claus is perfect for any time of year. Each moment spent with the children provides hope and the need to have something special to believe in to get through tough times like deployment, illness, and other difficult situations. The humorous and heartwarming moments will make you smile and warm your heart.

Donna Gielow McFarland

Kids Say the Darndest Things to Santa Claus: 25 Years of Santa Stories by Don Kennedy is a charming collection of stories from Don Kennedy's years as a volunteer Santa Claus. When a friend needed a favor, Kennedy offered to fill in as a substitute Santa, and he had so much fun that he kept it up for 25 years and counting. He volunteers at military bases, fire shelters, Boys and Girls Clubs, and many other places where there are children who need compassion and encouragement. What makes Kennedy a little unique is that from the very beginning, after each Santa event, he had the presence of mind to write down things the kids said to him. Kids Say the Darndest Things to Santa Claus is a collection of these special stories with additions about what goes on behind the scenes. Additions like what happens when Santa gets pulled over by a policeman...

Don Kennedy's stories range from comical to heart-wrenching. Many of the children in the stories are similar age – about seven years old – but they have a wide range of concerns. Dad shot a deer – was it one of the reindeer? Can you please do something about my little brother? Our house burned down so we can't bake cookies, is that okay? Boys, particularly, are worried about being on the Naughty List. There are kids who hilariously embarrass their parents. There are kids worried about parents on military assignments overseas and kids from third world countries who want Santa to bring food or shoes to their friends back home. One of my favorites was the kid who was desperate to hitch a ride on the sleigh because he needed to be in the 'witness 'tection program' because Sarah wanted to kiss him! The stories are probably better suited for adult readers than for children. It is totally, completely heartwarming. Read it during the holidays, with a hot mug of cocoa or in front of a crackling fire, and at a time when there is someone else at home to whom you can read aloud your favorite stories.

Joshua Soule

“Santa has to provide hope, encouragement, comfort, and good cheer for these special families in need.” Don Kennedy shares his tale of how he came to be Santa Claus, and some of the interesting experiences with children he encountered along with way. No, this isn’t fiction, but when Kennedy’s friend, who regularly performed as Santa, came down with a virus, Kennedy had no choice but to step in and take over the responsibility. With the first experience including some challenging questions, blunt comments from children, and even a little vomit, Kennedy found he was a bit more passionate about the role than he thought. From military bases to shelters to hospitals and homes, Santa works his magic with families who needed a bit of Christmas the most.

If you read Kids Say the Darndest Things to Santa Claus, I can assure you of three things; you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll remember what the spirit of Christmas is all about. With hilarious comments from children such as, “Oh, and if you need help eating all of the cookies that you get, then I’m your man”, you’ll be sure to laugh out loud as you read. Author Don Kennedy takes it a step further than just a humorous collection of stories and shares the tragic honesty of children experiencing hardship. From reuniting kids with a deployed parent to being asked to deliver a letter to heaven, Kennedy reminds us of what Christmas really means. I found myself touched and inspired to do more this holiday season, and I am grateful to Don Kennedy for sharing Kids Say the Darndest Things to Santa Claus with the world.

Gisela Dixon

Kids Say the Darndest Things to Santa Claus: 25 Years of Santa Stories by Don Kennedy is a short non-fiction memoir about Don's experiences as a volunteer Santa Claus for organizations that cannot afford to hire a "professional" Santa during the Christmas holiday season. In this book, Don describes how he got started on this gig when he filled in as Santa Claus for someone who couldn't make it. Through this, he realized he enjoyed it and developed a passion for it, especially at places where he could volunteer his services for free such as charity organizations, non-profit foundations, etc. The book is organized into a few chapters which detail Don's experiences with children at fire shelters, hospitals, children's centers, women's shelters, military bases, and such. There is also a short author bio at the end of the book.

Kids Say the Darndest Things to Santa Claus is an entertaining book that describes the various things that kids say to Santa Claus, some of which are funny and amusing and range from simple things to lavish ones. There are sometimes also cases of abused or neglected children that express things to Santa which are disturbing and Don rightly informs the organizers and social services when there is any hint of abuse. Don writes in a basic, straightforward style that simply describes the child's wishes and dreams. His passion for this volunteer work which he has been doing for 25 years comes through strongly in the book. Overall, this is a collection of fun and entertaining anecdotes of what kids ask for or say to Santa Claus.

Sarah Stuart

Kids Say the Darndest Things to Santa Claus: 25 Years of Santa Stories by Don Kennedy is a collection of ten true stories about how this Santa handled playing his part. He is right that being Santa Claus at events, or special places, is very different from seeing children briefly in a Mall booth – “a quick hello, what's your name & age, what is your wish for Christmas, smile for the photo, and done” – as Don Kennedy puts it. The comedy comes mainly from fast answers to potentially awkward responses. “Story” does not indicate a merry tale; there’s a serious side to every chapter. Given time, children confide in the man in the red suit with the fluffy beard and his response can change lives, especially when he picks up on abuse and takes action.

I was hooked by the first chapter, “The Military”, and in tears over the boy who “didn’t talk about Daddy cos it made Mommy cry”. Shocked by “Shelters” and the security surrounding them – even Santa isn’t told their location until he arrives accompanied by the staff! There is laugh-aloud comedy too. In “Young Love” Santa is asked to marry two six-year-olds “before our mommies get back”. “Siblings” features rivalry, including a girl who begs a ride on the sleigh for her brother, so Santa can dump him on Mars. Every reader will have their favorites. Kids Say the Darndest Things to Santa Claus: 25 Years of Santa Stories by Don Kennedy is a winner that would make a super Christmas gift.

Sharen Schermer

Laughed and cried all the way through the book. What a gift Don has given to all of these groups over the years.