Donna Couple Forever in the Christmas Spirit
by Rocio Villalobos
Like many, Marvin and Sheryl Podemski believe Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, so much so that they choose to celebrate it year-round. Whether at their seasonal home at Donna’s Quiet Village II RV Park or their home state of Iowa, they keep the spirit alive.
Traditional ornaments on their Christmas tree are swapped with pink and red hearts for Valentine’s Day, clovers for Saint Patrick's, and stars for Independence Day.
“I think the lights and festiveness of Christmas, overall, just makes everyone happy,” Sheryl said. “I know last year a lot of people were talking about putting their decorations up early in November because everyone has been so down with COVID. So I say, if it makes you happy, decorate your whole house! Christmas stores are bad for me.”
And with his rosy cheeks, hearty laugh, and lush white beard, Martin takes it to the next level, embodying Santa Claus himself. His likeness has allowed him to spread the joy of Christmas all year long, so he never intends to shave.
“We’ll see kids while out shopping and pretty soon start hearing the whispers, ‘There’s Santa,’” Marvin said.
Parents tell their children to stop staring; however, Marvin doesn’t mind and is happy to speak to them and remind them that Christmas is coming.
“I just tell them, ‘You better behave because I’m watching and taking notes,’” he said.
Though he’s recognized as Santa in his everyday wear, he also owns ‘the suit.’ For the past 30 years, he has fully stepped into the role, visiting local schools every year, often accompanied by Sheryl--or Mrs. Claus.
“Years and years ago, some of our friends asked if I could play Santa for their kids on Christmas Eve, and then it just kinda grew from there,” Marvin said. “Now we usually visit four elementary schools a season.”
With Marvin’s features, a simple errand is never just that. Sheryl recalls a visit to the post office a few years back. It was a trip she’ll never forget.
“There was a small boy, probably three or four years old, with his sisters, and he was just standing there in awe looking at us,” she said. “Then he came running over and asked, ‘Are you Christmas?’ It really made me cry because he was just so happy.”
While the children are more obvious with their curiosity, the Podemskis say people of all ages get a kick out of spotting Santa.
“We just enjoy visiting with people and making them smile and making them happy,” Marvin said. “It’s nice getting together with people to spread the magic of Christmas.”