1. Santa clones
I was a mall Santa for four seasons. Here's a couple, nothing too serious:
Kid at the front of the line yells to his mom, so everyone in the mall can hear, "Mom, can I ask Santa to use his special magic to get dad out of jail?" But when he got on my lap he asked for a car.
One day I had a long line of kids all upset and crying. A company was having their Christmas party in another part of the mall and had their own Santa who was handing out presents to the children of the employees. Problem was that this was in full view of the public, so it was clear that there were TWO SANTAS at the mall. And only one was handing out presents.
2. Santa gives the gift of sight
Last year, my son kind of flustered a Santa (who was clearly a young guy, poor kid.)
My youngest has a lot of complicated medical issues. The first year of her life she was completely blind. So last year when my oldest hopped on Santa's lap the first thing he asked him was, "Hi Santa, can you help my sister see her presents? Her eyes don't work."
I tried to shush him, but the damage was done. The poor Santa got red in the face and kind of stammered for a second. Finally he was able to say, "Uh, little guy? Santa will try, okay? But please don't be angry if it doesn't work. Santa's specialty is toys, not eyeballs." My son seemed cool with that response.
Poor Santa. But the neat thing is, a month or so after Christmas my daughter's vision DID start working.
3. Making Santa blush
When I was 17 I worked for a K-Mart and volunteered to be the store's Santa. Mostly because it meant I could spend a majority of my Saturday shift sitting in a chair as opposed to pushing shopping carts.
We would offer free photos inside a little pre-made K-Mart Christmas card. The kids were easy. Ask what they want for Christmas, snap a photo and done. Every once and while you would get the kids screaming bloody murder, but it never really bothered me.
Adults was where it got a little creepy. Since the photos were free, the mothers would get in on it as well.
Some would just openly hit on me. "Can I have you for Christmas?" Me being 17 years old had no idea what to say. "Uhhh, Santa's married to Mrs. Claus, sorry!"
4. When Santa asks for a gift in return
A friend and I went to ZooLights at the Calgary Zoo a few years ago. The zoo opens at night lit up with Christmas lights, and you can buy hot chocolate or apple cider and walk around listening to music with the animals.
Of course we stood in line to get our picture with Santa.
When our turn came he pulled us in and whispered, "I have had three kids tonight ask me if I can get their dads a job for Christmas. The world is messed up, and you young guys have to do something about it."
Whenever I make a big decision, I still think about whether I'm being true to my mission from Santa.
5. Let it snow, let it snow, oh no …
I was a mall Santa for ten years.
In all my years as a mall Santa, the worst request I got definitely had to come from the kid who wanted to pee.
Same old introduction as always, asking what she wants for Christmas.
"I wanna pee!"
Trying to change the topic to help the kid choose, get the picture taken, and move on.
"I wanna pee!"
The parents insist that the kid choose something and I sit there awkwardly with this little girl wriggling all over me. She's crying and they're insisting and then my lap gets warm.
Just, why? Why me? Ugh.
6. Santa the jerk
My dad looks like Santa Claus. Fat, big white beard, you get the picture.
We were in an airport in august and a couple of yuppies sent their kid up to him to ask if he was Santa. He said, "Of course!" and asked what the kid wanted for Christmas. Put on the spot, the kid froze, so my dad asked him if he wanted about a thousand dollars worth of gifts. Stuff like an iPad, a smartphone and an Xbox.
The kid readily agreed.
He then promised he would have them under the tree Christmas morning. His wink at the horrified parents was the best. My dad's kind of a jerk.
7. Deck the halls with coal and candy canes, fa la la la
Two stories stand out:
- Had an older kid (pre-teen) come up to me who was totally over the Santa business; he was only there because his parents wanted the picture. When I asked him what he wanted, he flatly said, "Coal." Being a jovial spirit, I followed up with, "Bituminous or anthracite?" Absolutely threw him for a loop.
- Had a super cute little girl come up to me who was so shy she just stood clutching her mom's leg for most of it. Went through the normal stuff ("Have you been good?") and she finally told me what she wanted: A candy cane. Well, guess what Santa gives to every kid who comes to see him? You've never seen someone so excited to have a wish fulfilled immediately.
8. Bringing joy to all the boys and squirrels
Was a mall Santa for a year. Honestly, a lot of kids ask for weird things, but this one kid looked me in the eye and asked for "a bushel of dead squirrels." He was probably six years old. Don't even know how he knew the word "bushel."
Woah! Dude, that kid was me. This was 14 years ago.
My grandma had made squirrel stew for me for the first time, and it was the best stuff I had ever tasted. I really wanted some more, but we had cooked all the squirrels that had been hunted. Sobbing, I had asked how many squirrels we would need to make more, and had been told a "bushel" ought to do it.
9. I saw you bribing Santa Claus
Here are two of my favorite requests:
- A six year old boy is waiting patiently in line to meet me, when it's his turn hops right into my lap. I ask him what he would like for Christmas, he mentions a few of the more popular toys that year, and then hands me a letter. I ask him if he’d been a good boy all year, he smirks, points to the letter and tells me not to worry about it, and marched away. My curiosity was piqued, so I opened his letter. In it was a list, and a $5 bill. The kid bribed Santa. I was horrified and quite impressed all at the same time.
- Shy, adorable 4-year old girl finally sits on my lap after a great deal of coaxing by me, the photographer and her mom. Won’t say a word, complete silence, which isn’t uncommon for her age.
I ask her if she likes princesses, ballerinas, soccer; anything to get a nod. Not a peep. After photos, I assure her that I will be bringing her some great gifts on Christmas Eve. Walks away clutching mom’s hand, suddenly bolts back towards my chair, gets a foot away from my face and practically yells, “I don’t like macaroni and cheese!”
10. Interrogating Mrs. Claus
I am Mrs. Claus every year -- it is basically my job to get kids who are scared of Santa to relax enough for a photo.
The funny stuff now that I've heard:
"Does Santa snore as bad as Daddy?" ("Worse.")
"Do you get mad at the song 'I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus'?" ("I'm sure it was just on the cheek.")
"Do you deliver presents for Hanukkah?" (I admired that kid's logic, but no, family took over that holiday to give Santa a break.)
"Does Santa bring home any cookies for you?" ("Yes.")
And my favorite, just because it was so weird but touching:
"When you and Santa got married, did Rudolph bring the ring up on his nose?" (I had to bust out laughing. I said yes eventually.)
11. Mommy the lush
Bit of backstory: My wife is very anti-alcohol and anti-drinking. She says it loudly and often.
Anyway, one night we were at a winter carnival. She had a cup of eggnog that night, which she didn't realize had some rum in it. She was so upset, and kept saying how she "couldn't believe she drank."
My son gets to Santa and sits on his lap. Santa asks what he wants for Christmas, and my son looks right into his eyes and yells, "I wish mommy would stop drinking."
My wife turned colors I've never seen before. I laughed so hard I stopped making noise.
12. All I want for Christmas is (to be) you
I wasn't a Santa, but I remember a particularly creepy thing that I asked the mall Santa that year.
For some reason I wanted to BE Santa. I thought it was cool how he went around the world delivering presents, breaking into homes, eating fall the cookies he wanted and he had nine reindeers as pets.
I was still young so I guess I meant to ask for his costume or something, but what I ended up saying, however, was that I wanted to wear his skin for Christmas. Whether he found that as funny as I do now, we'll never know.
13. Phony Santa
My family got invited to a Christmas party when I was younger. I was seven, my brother was four. It was something like six families all celebrating together. They needed someone to play Santa for the gift exchange.
They already had the costume ready, so my dad, a rotund fellow, decides to step up and play the part. As soon as "Santa" makes an appearance, my brother starts shouting, "THAT'S NOT SANTA, THAT'S MY DAD!" Over and over again.
He ends up ripping the fake beard off my dad's face, and all the other younger kids screamed in horror. It was pretty dang funny.
14. Jingle bells, something smells
Wasn't a Santa but have a story to contribute.
When I was about five or six, we were at the mall to see Santa. Now when I was little I had a bad case of nervous flatulence. I was nervous because I had no idea what to ask Santa for.
The whole time in line I was panicking. Get up to Santa and I'm hoisted upon his lap. He asks what I'd like. As soon as I open my mouth, I just release the gates and let out a very loud toot.
I hung my head in shame all the way up until Christmas because I thought Santa hated me.
15. Christmas-time to leave
I'm not a mall Santa, I'm a Christmas tree farm Santa.
We've got the whole sit on Santa's lap setup and everything, but in a much more Christmas-y environment.
This one girl last season just wouldn't leave. Her mom was trying to get her to leave by bribing her with McDonald’s, but the girl sunk her claws into me, saying that she didn't want to go.
Then, she told me that she wanted me to be her dad, because I was cooler than her dad. I had no idea what to think. She just kept saying that, calling me "dad." Eventually, I had to pretend to go back to the North Pole so that she would leave.
16. Turning redder than a candy cane
I was not a mall Santa, but I have a great mall Santa story.
When my daughter was about five years old, I took her to see a Santa at the local mall.
There she is, looking cute as a button, sitting on Santa's knee chatting and giggling away. It was a picture perfect moment, when Santa suddenly calls me over.
He told me that my daughter, "Wants a girlfriend for daddy on Christmas day." My wife and I had split up years ago, and I wasn't much of the dating type. Santa then told my daughter that a girlfriend would be too big to fit in a sleigh.
My daughter had a real knack for embarrassing me.
17. A very mature taste in toys
I'm not a mall Santa, but I just finished my stint as one of his elves. It was my job to keep the kids entertained before seeing Santa and I always asked them what they wanted for Christmas ("You know, I know some elves in the toy department, maybe I can pull a few strings!").
One little boy (about six years old) looked up very excitedly. He enthusiastically told me that he wanted the 3-in-1 Dyson bladeless fan.
Santa was confused. "Isn't that something for grown ups?" His mom said he's nope, he's wanted one for eight months. I really hope he got it.
18. Bamboozlers and finker fonkers
I remember when I was little I wished for a train, but I made up a name for it. I called it a "finker fonker" and I was adamant that was all I wanted. Whenever my parents asked what I wanted, it was a "finker fonker."
My parents went to every shop asking for this thing, scoured the Internet and asked all of their coworkers if their kids also wanted this "finker fonker."
No one had heard of it, and rightly so. I made it up. I'm 90% sure my parents took me to Santa's just to see if he could figure out what it was. Woke up to a green wooden train and was convinced for years that Santa was magic.
19. Dating Santa Claus
My dad was a department store Santa in the 50s, back when he was in high school.
A group of giggling teenaged girls came in and were pressuring this cute girl to sit on Santa's lap.
She didn't want to, and finally one of the girls said, "Junie wants a date with Santa for Christmas!"
What had happened was, my mom (Junie) had seen my dad at school, and gushed to her friends about how she thought he was SO cute. One of her friends knew he was playing Santa, and got the girlfriends together to go to the store under the pretence of shopping. Then they all decided "go see Santa" and pressure them both into a date.
And that's how my dad met my mom.
20. Spread joy
In case anyone is interested in being a real life Santa, you can go to your post office and get "Dear Santa letters" that have been sent via USPS and you can give gifts to the kids. My dad's office used to do this.
One letter my dad got was from a boy who had several younger siblings and they were not very well off.
The boy asked for a towel because they only had one, and when he got to shower, not only was the water cold but the towel was wet.
My dad's office found where they lived and found out that the six of them were also sharing a bed. On Christmas, they delivered new beds for the whole family, towels and an assortment of clothing.
21. Fleece blankets and a partridge in a pear tree
When I was very young I had an obsession with fleece blankets because they were fluffy, and I liked to cuddle with fluffy things. I wanted to collect all the different colors I could find.
So I went to the mall Santa and here's little three year old me, a skinny little girl, asking for "a blanket."
Apparently the Santa had a morose look in his eyes, and my parents quickly got me out of there. I just wanted a new color blanket because I thought they were cool, not because I really needed one to stay warm. I made the Santa feel bad.
22. Keeping Santa's secret
Not a mall Santa but a school Santa.
Santa came to my school one Christmas.
I sat on his lap and looked at his beard, and noticed that it had a string on it and it was wonky. I was like, "You're not Santa! Your beard is fake!"
The Santa had a sad look on his face, then he started sobbing, "For thousands of years I had a fantastic beard. I don't have a real beard any more because somebody called Mr. Johnson (my math teacher, who had a long white bear) stole it. I asked him nicely if he could give it back, but he didn't listen. Maybe you and your friends can find Mr. Johnson and get my beard back in time for next year?"
I was only five so I believed him, so I was furious at Mr. Johnson. The next time we had math after Christmas, me and most of my class gave him heck for stealing Santa's beard.
After a few weeks of tormenting him, he finally came into school without a beard. We assumed that he had given it back to Santa.
Here's the interesting part that I found out many years later: It turns out that Santa was actually my English teacher Mr. Brown, and he deliberately made the beard look fake. Why? Because Mr. Johnson was having an affair with Mr. Brown's wife, and Santa found out. Because of this, Mr Brown decided to get as many kids as he could to hate Mr. Johnson, and get him to shave the beard he loved dearly.
23. That’s one way to get on the Nice List
I might have made a Santa very uncomfortable one time. I had just turned five.
I wanted to help feed the reindeer, I don't know why.
I collected some change to do it, probably about a 30 cents in pennies and nickels. I tried to give them to Santa while I was on his lap, but dropped them.
I then tried to retrieve the coins from Santa's ... you know, lap area.
All I remember is him saying very quickly and hastily, "Oh ho ho, it's fine, I'll get them later, it's okay."
While placing me off of his lap, and me being completely oblivious to how uncomfortable he was it until it dawned on me, many years later.
24. When Santas go rogue
I wasn't a mall Santa, but I got hired to be one of the elves who took the pictures and got kids to sit still.
We had two Santas: one was an actual diagnosed narcoleptic and we had to keep waking him up because he kept sleeping on the job.
The other had this horrible "joke" where he would bring his own homemade bags of coal to give to the kids who would cry. Me and the other elves would have to try to seize all the bags before he started his shift.
That was a fun job.
25. North Pole politics
Got roped into being a mall Santa once while in college many years ago.
Nothing really bad happened, boring job. But, I did have one freaky moment when a little kid approached me and asked if I could, among other things, please "stop destroying America."
It's a long story, so to keep it short: It turns out that this kid had a grandfather who fought in some war many years ago. Grandpa had a regular habit of railing against "The Reds" who were out to destroy the United States of America, freedom and democracy.
The kid, in turn, interpreted that red bit rather literally at some point.
26. A racy request
Something I did as a kid that I didn’t realize was weird until years later.
I really wanted a pet snake, but my parents were insistent that I didn’t ask for one because it’s a creepy thing to ask for.
So, one day we're at the mall and go to take photos with the mall Santa, and he asks me what I want for Christmas.
I feel put on the spot, and not knowing what else to ask for, I just asked Santa for “a good time.” He gave me a blank look followed by a nervous chuckle. I didn't know the connotations of that saying at the time.
27. Hey, Santa baby!
I knew a gentleman who was a Santa at our local mall for years. He had an authentic, full white beard, so he was paid more. Real jolly looking fellow.
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.
Such is the life of a mall Santa.
28. 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 rotund 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.
29. How the zombie apocalypse begins
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.
30. Sports fan
I managed the Santa set at a couple of malls. The kid didn’t ask for anything creepy or off the wall — 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, kid, and that’s why they win.” (Alabama’s colors are red and white).
Kid started crying. Parents complained. And that's how Santa got fired.
31. 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!"
32. 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.