Santa Class
December 20, 2017 11:44 AM   Subscribe

How does one become a Santa? Well, of course, the original has a proper origin story, but what of his numerous body doubles/"helpers"? Well, AARP (the average age of aspiring jolly old elves is 65) got to the bottom of this, diving down the chimney of Santa University.

The article and accompanying video show the four-day program during which Kris Kringle wannabes cover such basics as beard care and whitening and the Three Santa Secrets.

posted by Halloween Jack (7 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I was Santa once. It went a lot better than I expected, TBH. Turns out little kids are easily amused.

My SO's employer at the time was very active in the community and one of the things they did every year was associated with the Angel Tree project. Every year they'd buy presents for about 20 families and throw a bit of a party at one of the community centers in town, providing breakfast, a Santa, and bags of Christmas presents, among other activities.

Anyway, the person who had been Santa for years had moved, so as much as I despise social situations at all and having never spent more than a few minutes at a time around kids turning the anxiety level to 11, even my heartless ass couldn't let there be no Santa for the first time in a decade. :(

Turned out to be a rewarding experience, actually, and as with most things the anticipation was unpleasant but the actual event was no sweat. Brains suck sometimes.

Looking back I wish the kids had had a Santa that looked like them rather than yet another relatively well off white guy. Still, best not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Just something to keep in mind should I find myself in that situation again.
posted by wierdo at 12:17 PM on December 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

Of course the original has a proper...well, uh, he does have an origin story...
posted by Guy Smiley at 12:29 PM on December 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

And what about all the robot doubles? One of those scared hell out of my little daughter in Target when it lurched into life and began calling her a ho as she walked by it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:49 PM on December 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

Are they no longer captured from the wild in Finland then?
posted by Fuchsoid at 5:04 PM on December 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've played Santa for about seven years now. I've lost a ton of weight, have brown hair and thus have to wear a fake beard and some padding.

Playing Santa is one of the most satisfying experiences I've ever had. I'm not sure why you'd get into it if you didn't like kids (and, thus, find the drunk Santa/bad Santa trope a strange flight of fancy). The children who are true believers are just a delight and the ones who are hedging their bets just in case are even more delightful. The best are the kids who know you're not Santa but want the little kids around them to believe and, thus, work with you to keep up the illusion for the little guys.

When you come into a room in the suit you feel like what Elvis must have felt like walking on to stage. The kids just go nuts and are so happy. While I usually stick to some of the cliches, I also try and talk about how what I love best about Christmas is giving things to others. This leads to me being able to encourage them to give stuff to others - be it a gift or a compliment or an "I love you" or just some help. When it comes from Santa, the kids are super receptive to that idea. Just be good to each other, man.

I'm not a "sit on the lap" Santa - I'm usually a "hand out small gifts" Santa. The kids who come up want to tell me stuff they did during the year or sometimes do a little dance or sing something or, yes, tell me in detail about the thing-they-must-have. I do get some suspicious looks and the occasional meltdown, but even those are part of the human condition, you know?

I answer all sorts of questions about reindeer and the north pole and what-not. I do my best to stick to established canon and try to keep up with new developments (Like I need to be able to talk intelligently about Olive the Reindeer and about Elves on the Shelves).

Bringing some joy to some kids, people. Its the best.

Short version - if you ever have a chance to be Santa, be Santa. And play him for real.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:27 PM on December 20, 2017 [6 favorites]

If you are going to play Santa, maybe don't be Paul Tay. At least in that particular photo he isn't flipping the bird to passing traffic.

With him around, I doubt many kids in and around Tulsa manage to make it to four without the illusion being broken after their parents have to explain why it looks like Santa is drunkenly riding his bicycle down the road waving a dildo about and screaming at passersby. The poor kids who saw him getting beaten bloody by the cops after he attacked them with the dildo that one time will probably have PTSD for life.
posted by wierdo at 6:32 PM on December 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

"Looking back I wish the kids had had a Santa that looked like them rather than yet another relatively well off white guy."

It's getting more and more common. My three kids' first Santas were, respectively, black, Pacific Islander, and white -- just the local mall Santas, all high-quality with real beards. For the kids, the key thing is the red suit and the white beard! By the time they're old enough to realize Santas don't all look quite the same, they've figured out that mall Santas are helper Santas anyway.

We have a family friend who is the Signing Santa in the Chicago area, who spends every weekday from Thanksgiving to Christmas getting off his full-time job and heading out to area malls and events so kids who speak ASL can talk to Santa in sign. And every weekend, all weekend, at least 12 hour a day. By Christmas he's an exhausted wreck, but parents CRY they're so happy their kids can talk to Santa and Santa can talk back, and the kids just light up with joy when they realize Santa isn't yet another adult who can't understand them without a translator, but Santa, because he is magic, already speaks their language.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:42 PM on December 20, 2017 [7 favorites]


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