With her business shut down, a photographer spreads holiday cheer with messages from Santa

This story is part of a series by CBC Manitoba about acts of kindness in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was made possible in part thanks to Manitobans who filled out CBC’s survey about acts of kindness they have initiated or experienced. 

When all of her business was cancelled due to COVID-19, Emily Wood decided to use her extra time — and Santa’s availability — to spread some Christmas cheer. 

Wood, a professional photographer in Winnipeg, had booked sessions with families to take photos of their children with Santa Claus in October and November. 

But when Manitoba moved to the red, or critical, level of the provincial pandemic response system in November, non-essential businesses had to shut down, and Wood was forced to cancel most of those appointments. 

With Santa already at her disposal and the perfect holiday backdrop in her studio, she took some photos with him, designed a card, and sent dozens of cards to kids with a special message from ol’ St. Nicholas himself. 

“I just wanted to still kind of make people smile at the end of a really, really terrible year,” she said. 

Because she’s trained as a graphic designer, Wood was able to design the cards herself. (Submitted by Emily Wood)

The cards include a message to kids about how even though it’s been a difficult year because of the pandemic, Santa is proud of them for being good. 

“It’s always important to be kind and helpful to others all year long and to do what we can to help make the world a nice place,” the card reads. 

The cards include a personal message from Santa to children. (Submitted by Emily Wood)

She’s sent out about 70 so far, and has received dozens of photos and messages from parents telling her how excited their kids were to get the special note from Santa. 

“It is really nice to see that it was well received and that these kids are happy, and there’s still the opportunity to create a little bit of magic even in this really difficult time.”

Wood works primarily as a wedding photographer, so her business, Stardust Photography, has suffered a lot because of the pandemic. She had to take another job as a graphic designer to make ends meet. 

“It’s been really easy to be less than kind this year, because we’re all so fearful and … just not able to see each other and support each other. And kindness kind of can fall by the wayside,” she said. 

“And I just thought it was really important to do something to make sure it was still alive.”

Wood said it’s been wonderful to hear from parents about how much their kids loved the cards. (Submitted by Emily Wood)