By Tori Mason

WATKINS, Colo. (CBS4) — Despite what you see on the shelves, not everyone’s dreaming of a “White Christmas.”

“When I was 20 I found my first black Santa and I was in love,” said Tonya Milligan.

santa Santa Collector Seeks More Color In Colorado

(credit: CBS)

Nearly 35 years later, Tonya has collected more than a thousand African American Christmas figurines.

“There’s church choirs, there’s nativity scenes and there’s lots of Santas. Lots and lots of Santas,” described Tonya.

Tonya says she has nothing against the Caucasian Claus. After all, it’s hard to resist his jolly smile, rosy cheeks and cherry-hued nose.

But like many black families, Tonya wanted a Santa a little more familiar — for herself and for her children.

“It was really important that they had positive representation of who they were and people that looked like them,” said Tonya.

decoration Santa Collector Seeks More Color In Colorado

(credit: CBS)

Unfortunately, finding a black Santa takes a lot more than milk and cookies.

“I had a Christmas party with my coworkers and I think they were overwhelmed! They were looking for Santa Clauses that looked like them and it was hard for them to find one. I was like ‘Well welcome to our world!’” laughed Tonya.

Tonya’s search for Santa has taken her to Christmas shop after Christmas shop, even past state lines, and it’s not getting any easier.

“They’re saying ‘Oh we didn’t get any this year, we usually get some.’ It’s really frustrating. I think it was harder this year than any other year that I’ve looked for black Santas and angels. It’s like there were none this year,” she explained.

Tonya says it’s upsetting, not because her collection won’t grow but because kids aren’t seeing them.

She says Santa’s color doesn’t matter, what matters is how different colors see themselves.

“There are so many messages that are negative that they’re bombarded with daily,” said Tonya. “It’s nice for Christmas to reflect a positive image of life, not just Santas, but life.”

Tori Mason is an award-winning reporter for CBS4 This Morning. Follow her on Twitter @ToriMasonTV.

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