The Uncle Santa Series by Lisa Dunn
At 5’4” and 200-some pounds, Mike Dunn could be said to have a “Santa-like” physique. But around the holidays, when he dons his red suit and his hair turns snow white, he doesn’t just bear a passing a resemblance; he’s the spitting image of Old Saint Nick. And it’s all thanks to his magic hot chocolate. At least, that’s how the story goes. “We have a daycare here in Wolf Point,” explains Mike’s wife, Lisa Dunn. “In 2009, Mike said, ‘I think I’m going to dye my hair and play Santa for the kids.’ So, he found somebody to bleach his hair, and when he came back, he was the real deal.” The Dunns were excited to see the faces of their daycare kids, but they also didn’t want to confuse them or interfere with any of their Christmas traditions at home. So, they came up with an elaborate story: Mike wasn’t the Santa, but one of Santa’s helpers. Every year, Santa sends Mike magic hot chocolate, and when Mike drinks it, he transforms into “Uncle Santa.” “Mike has the personality of Santa, and that’s what makes it work,” says Lisa. Not long after Mike first bleached his hair, the Dunns made a trip to Williston to stock up on groceries. While Lisa was filling up a second cart, Mike sat on a store bench with the first load. A man approached with three kids and asked Mike if he worked there. Mike handed him an “Uncle Santa” business card (which Lisa had designed for fun) and explained that he wasn’t an employee; he was the genuine article. The next year, the Dunns received an unexpected phone call. “I answered it and the man on the line said, ‘Mrs. Claus?’” Lisa remembers. “I got in character and said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘Is Santa there? I have a couple kids who need to speak to him.’” Lisa said that Santa was in the workshop, and she passed the phone to Mike. The man asked Santa’s help explaining to the children the importance of good behavior. “In 2018, I was telling some daycare parents the story, and I said it would make a great children’s book,” Lisa explains. “I started writing, and found a publishing company to help me with the whole process.” In January 2019, she submitted the manuscript for Uncle Santa and the Magic Hot Chocolate. Since then, Uncle Santa has become a Wolf Point tradition. Lisa has read her book to children at the local library, schools, and vendor shows. Kids get their pictures taken with Mike in his Santa getup. In the winter, Uncle Santa rides his Harley through town, and in 2021, he even plans to appear in the Wolf Point Stampede parade. In 2020, Lisa released a sequel to Uncle Santa, and in summer 2021, a third book in the series will hit the shelves. Each explores a different moral, based on real-life situations that Lisa has experienced as a daycare provider. Her ability to relate to children has made her a great children’s author. “I plan to write at least six to eight more in the series,” says Lisa. Her upcoming book delves into the meaning of the Christmas spirit. “If we had that Christmas feeling all year long, wouldn’t that be great?” she asks. The Uncle Santa series is available through Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play. For more information, call (406) 650-8377.