Amid the spending madness of the holidays, thousands of men put on or grow out beards and become Santa Claus for the season, appearing at malls and office Christmas parties across America.
Being Santa is a serious job with serious pay. The median hourly wage for a mall Santa is $30, though a jolly old elf with a real white beard can make as much as $75 an hour, according to Payscale data. These guys can earn around $20,000 in just 40 working days a year.
But being Santa is no easy feat. From kids asking for impossible gifts to political agendas and unwanted advances, mall Santas are forced to deal with some tough and uncomfortable situations.
Here are some of the funniest and craziest things mall Santas and their helpers have dealt with, as told by Reddit users who’ve been there.
When Santas go rogue
I wasn't a mall Santa, but I got hired to be one of the elves who took the pictures.
We had two Santas: one was narcoleptic and we had to keep waking him up, and the other would bring his own homemade bags of coal to give to the kids who would cry and we'd have to try to seize all the bags before he started his shift.
That was a fun job.
North Pole politics
Got roped into being Santa once while in college many years ago. I did have one freaky moment when a little kid who approached me asked if I could, among other things, please "stop destroying America."
Long story short, turns out that little Timmy's dad/granddad had a regular habit of railing against "The Reds" who were out to destroy the United States.
The kid, in turn, interpreted that red bit rather literally at some point.
A racy request
Something I did as a kid that I didn’t realize was weird until years later.
I really wanted a snake, but my parents were insistent that I didn’t ask for one because it’s a creepy thing to ask for.
So, on the spot and not knowing what else to ask for, I just asked Santa for “a good time,” which I had no idea of the connotations of at the time.
Hey, Santa baby!
I knew a gentleman who was a Santa in our local mall for years. He had a real beard so he was paid more.
He didn't tell me any stories of anything that happened that was creepy rather he said every year there was something interesting that happened.
One year he said that all the "higher ups" were checking out the display and as they were looking away a girl yelled "Hey Santa!" and then she flashed him. He was a bit of a ladies' man so he enjoyed the show.
Santa gets fired
My buddy was Santa a few years back at a local shopping center and this kid came up to him and sat on his lap. Now my friend isn't the tallest or most robust guy out there, so he didn't exactly look like a stereotypical fat Santa.
I guess this kid picked up on it and got upset and said all he had wanted for Christmas was to have a good conversation with the real Santa, and that my friend was clearly an imposter.
So a few debates later with the kid's parents, and the janitor, who was much more Santa-esque in stature, got dressed up in a spare suit they had and the kid was satisfied.
When all you want is a boy toy
I used to take pictures of the kids visiting Santa.
One little girl asked for a boy toy.
Santa was like, "What?"
Her mom was a few feet away from the stage and says, "She means a truck!"
How the zombie apocalypse begins/ Patient Zero
I remember being in hospitals a lot as a kid with serious stomach issues and asking a mall santa if I could "get better and not die" once when I was about eight or nine years old.
When the mall santa looked at me sadly and said he couldn't do that, almost in tears, I asked if my old dog that died as a puppy could be brought back as a zombie so "we could both be dead together" and if I could "come back as a zombie too so I could stay with my parents so they wouldn't be sad".
Looking back, that was really creepy and I think I broke the poor guy's heart.
I managed the Santa set at a couple of malls. Kid didn’t ask for anything creepy— he just wanted Auburn to win the Iron Bowl.
For non-sports people, Auburn University and the University of Alabama play a big deal football game called the Iron Bowl. Alabama usually wins. Anyway, the kid asks Santa for this particular miracle and Santa pointed to his suit and said “You can tell who my team is and that’s why they win” (Alabama’s colors are red and white).
Kid started crying. Parents complained. Santa was fired.
The naked truth
Years ago, I was in line with my 6-year-old nephew for his visit with Santa.
When Santa asked my nephew what he wanted for Christmas, he said, "Could you get Mommy and Daddy some pajamas? Cuz they don't wear any...."
The whole line burst into laughter, including Santa.
Rudolph the red-nosed sausage?
I wasn’t a mall Santa, but I played one of his elves.
I think the worst thing a kid ever asked for was some reindeer sausage.
He figured Santa could slaughter one of his reindeer for the venison.