10 Country: Viola's Secret Identity - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

10 Country: Viola's Secret Identity

December 14, 2006

Tifton --- Santa Claus gets a lot of attention, along with Rudolph and the reindeer, but we don't know much about Mrs. Claus. Come to find out she spreads a lot of good cheer in 10 Country.            

Some people dress up one time a year for a special occasion. "I'm getting ready to be Mrs. Santa Claus," says Viola Johnson as she helps boys and girls get ready for their photo with Santa.              

"That's Santa Claus over there; I'm mama Santa Claus," says Viola, pointing to Santa sitting on a sofa with a Christmas tree behind him. She lends a helping hand to those who might need a little encouragement and comfort to get through Christmas.              

"You want me to sit with you?" asks Viola of a boy apprehensive about sitting next to the bearded man.            

We don't know much about Mrs. Claus because her work doesn't get as much attention as Santa's. But, we know she gives grown-ups special gifts. "I volunteer for whatever," says Viola.            

While her Christmas responsibilities require a lot of time, she gives a lot of time to help others.  "Could we help you?" she asks a visitor to the local hospital where she spends a lot of her time.            

"Thirteen thousand hours and 24 years service," she says as she helps people find their friends at the hospital.            

Why does she give so much of herself when she could take it easy at the North Pole? She knows that staying busy keeps the Ghosts of Christmas pasts away. Staying busy helping others keeps her from feeling depressed in the off season. 

We know that Mrs. Claus likes making music. "I don't know one note from another.  I never took music lessons, and it lifts me up," she says while playing a wash board in Tifton's First United Methodist Church's Kitchen Band.            

She learned to play the washboard when visiting New Orleans.  At an age when some people might find Christmas too much trouble to enjoy, "I'm 86 and I'm proud of every year and I got and everyday I got," she says.              

She doesn't act or feel her age. "Thirty-nine, 39 and holding," she says with a laugh.             When the Christmas music ends, she believes it's better to give of herself than to receive.

Mrs. Johnson walks daily, and makes it a point to go ballroom dancing once a month.

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