Local woman who lost her happiness gives it to others during holidays

ATLANTA — A local woman turned a personal struggle into a mission to bring happiness to total strangers.

"I just wanted to go to sleep and not wake up until the holidays are over," Jan Granai told Channel 2's Aaron Diamant.

It was Christmas, Granai says, that saved her from an improbable sadness.

She set aside a little money each week, stocked up on gifts, then made a plan when suddenly, the sadness was gone.


These days, she wears a Santa suit, calling herself "Janta Claus," and shows up unannounced at hospitals, nursing homes and rehab centers across metro Atlanta simply to lift patients' spirits.

“It makes you feel at home even though you’re not. If you have to be ill, it’s nice to have somebody who appreciates the fact that you need some cheering up, so I think it’s very wonderful,” she said.

The caregivers think so, too. Granai’s passion helped them keep their own promise.

“No resident of mine here was going to celebrate Christmas without somebody celebrating it with them,” said  Lori Gilley, the activities director.

Janta Claus made sure of that.

“I still go home. There’s no presents under the tree and there’s no family, but it doesn’t matter, because I get probably more out of this than the people I say Merry Christmas to," she said.

After two days of deliveries, Granai’s makeshift sleigh is finally empty. She’ll spend the next year working to refill it, motivated by the anticipation of spreading more joy next holiday season.

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