Sketchy Santas
December 5, 2009 11:58 AM   Subscribe

Sketchy Santas - This is mostly pictures of terrified kids being held by Santa. Occasionally there will be a photo that you wish you could unsee.
posted by sciurus (45 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Looks like Santas are as scary as clowns.
posted by Cranberry at 12:08 PM on December 5, 2009

My parents told me the truth about Santa when I was four because I was so terrified of the idea of some strange, horrible man sneaking into our house at night. I didn't want presents, I just didn't want him anywhere near me. Even now I remember the icy terror I felt when confronted with that bearded monster.

So I looked at those pics with a certain sense of foreboding, thinking it wasn't at all impossible that I'd see myself. When I was maybe two (before they'd told me the truth, obviously), they dressed me up in a ruffly red velvet dress and took me for the traditional picture. As soon as they sat me on his loathsome knee, I obviously lost my shit. In the photo my head is purplish from screaming, and Santa's knee is soaking wet because I'd promptly peed all over him.

To this day, when I'm in the mall with my mom around Christmas and we walk past Santa, she'll lean over and whisper in my ear, "He's watching your Martha. He knows what you did."
posted by mostlymartha at 12:09 PM on December 5, 2009 [39 favorites]

What is wrong with me that when I read the lead up to the last link that you "couldn't unsee," I IMMEDIATELY clicked on it? Ugh, the internet has broken me.

That said, I have vivid memories of hiding under the table when Santa came to my preschool class, so this is lovely.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 12:16 PM on December 5, 2009 [5 favorites]

a photo that you wish you could unsee

There's a lump in his stocking, and it isn't coal.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 12:16 PM on December 5, 2009 [6 favorites]

Oh god. *shudder*
posted by Iosephus at 12:16 PM on December 5, 2009

Also, serious question: In all of our society's whipped-up frenzy about any man so much as looking at a child = PEDOPHILE MOLESTER, does it seem odd that the Santa tradition continues on unabated? I keep expecting a "family" group to come out against this tradition of letting a strange man hold your children on his lap and whisper secrets to them, but it hasn't happened. There's a rant about rampant commercialism in there somewhere, I'm sure.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 12:19 PM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Poor St. Nicholas. His awesome story of anonymous charity has pretty much been wrecked by all this Santa Clause nonsense.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:20 PM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

a photo that you wish you could unsee

Seriously, is that the kids pants which I see down around his ankles?
posted by hippybear at 12:23 PM on December 5, 2009

In a similar vein, there is Santa, No!
posted by rewil at 12:25 PM on December 5, 2009 [2 favorites]

Santa is dead inside. Merry fucking Christmas.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 12:30 PM on December 5, 2009

posted by leotrotsky at 12:34 PM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

This Santa's eyes creep me right the fuck out.
posted by sciurus at 12:49 PM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Man those are some creepy looking people.

And then there are the Santas.
posted by disclaimer at 12:54 PM on December 5, 2009

And here in Tx, the town of Addision now has Sexy Santa!
posted by emjaybee at 1:12 PM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Let me tell you about Band Camp!
posted by ericb at 1:29 PM on December 5, 2009

And here in Tx, the town of Addision now has Sexy Santa!

He a'int got nothing on Beverly Center's traditional Hunky Santa!
posted by ericb at 1:32 PM on December 5, 2009

I am sitting in my school cafeteria as I type this and a Santa is taking picture with students right now. It looks disturbingly like that example picture.
posted by hepta at 3:04 PM on December 5, 2009

i KNEW this day would´╗┐ come! son im giving you full acces to the anti santa aresenal i built when i was a child! good luck destroying santa and merry christmas
posted by yoHighness at 3:23 PM on December 5, 2009

Third picture down. Where is Santa's hand?!?!
posted by Sassyfras at 3:38 PM on December 5, 2009

Oh my god, this. I don't know what's worse: the horrible way Santa's hands are splayed out on the children, the malicious look in his eyes, or the concentrated hate on the face of the kid on the right. I feel like the whole thing is a short story in miniature.
posted by felix betachat at 3:52 PM on December 5, 2009

I know it's wrong to laugh, but dammit these are hilarious!
posted by Flashman at 3:52 PM on December 5, 2009 [3 favorites]

He a'int got nothing on Beverly Center's traditional Hunky Santa!
Damn Santa, you hunky!
posted by fuse theorem at 3:55 PM on December 5, 2009

this is the thing of nightmares!
posted by liza at 3:58 PM on December 5, 2009 [3 favorites]

I was about three or four when I lived with my grandmother for a year in Kerala, India. Now, this place is about almost the furthest you can get from the whole St. Nick legend making any sort of sense (no reindeer, no snow so sleds don't work, wearing red means you are a communist, etc.), but the significant Christian population and many years of British influence resulted in a lot of foreign traditions being brought over.

My grandmother, well versed in religious topics, had previously told me of Jesus Christ (Yesu Kristu) and Christianity (always with respect but making sure to stress the otherness and the foreignness of it), but not much else beyond that. So as far as I was concerned Christmas was just a nice break from kindergarten school.

So I was caught rather off-guard and wasn't sure what to expect when my grandma pulled me out onto our porch one day all excited and told me that a "Father Christmas" would be coming and wanted to give *me* a present. It was starting to get dark when the large, very cheery posse arrived carrying their electric and wood torches* and the big man at the front.

Back then I had never actually met a "white man" before and all I knew of them came from stories of the British Raj, which as you can imagine, were never anything but gruesome. My literal understanding of these made me imagine them as somewhere between a bunch of greedy, smug bad guys to horrible alien-looking monsters.

Now here was this Santa, a massive (from my POV) old white man with red cheeks and big white beard that reached to his chest, wearing the brightest, most ridiculous outfit I had ever seen. This was especially since the rest of the traveling group was in cotton shirts and lungis like normal people. I remember my feelings at the time were a mix of both trepidation and avid curiosity. I wasn't so much afraid of this man, not that I could tell he was one, as I was as confused as to what the hell he was.

He asked me what my name was in English, but spoken very strangely. I instinctively hid behind my grandmother and buried my face in her sari, to the amusement of all present. The Santa smiled and said a few more things that I did not quite understand and handed me a toy car from one of the bag the group was carrying around, much to my bemusement. The group cheered and my grandma chided me to remember my manners when offered a gift. I simply looked at her with utter bewilderment. The Santa said something else and promptly left with his very cheery group. I ran inside and put the toy with the rest of my own.

I never thought much of this growing up, although my father kept bringing this up (and many, many other things) for the next little while to tease me: "Afraid of Santa Claus? You're such a wimp!"

I'm just glad I didn't cry or throw up like I usually did.

*This was a common way to travel in the old days before street lighting but still persists thanks to frequent blackouts and lack of proper lighting in many rural/outlying areas.
posted by shoebox at 4:00 PM on December 5, 2009 [26 favorites]

shoebox, that is an awesome story.
posted by mwhybark at 4:03 PM on December 5, 2009

I can not parse this one. I thought it was some sort of Santaesque dummy until I noticed the apparently human hand on one of the girls. But there is no other part of that monstrosity that looks either human or jolly-old-elfin.
posted by Dojie at 5:13 PM on December 5, 2009 [2 favorites]

I can't help it. This is the best laugh I've had all year. Those poor children. The poor hung over Santas. My Christmas spirit has returned!
posted by wv kay in ga at 5:37 PM on December 5, 2009

I hate to be a stick in the mud but I'm not going to make my 2 yearold daughter do this. Why should I break her trust for a stupid photo?
posted by nola at 6:23 PM on December 5, 2009

Sax boy: fraternity hazing? He seems to be enjoying it too much, though. Hmmmmmm.
posted by wowbobwow at 6:31 PM on December 5, 2009

ahhh.. that just made my day. quality.
posted by Frasermoo at 6:34 PM on December 5, 2009

Hey look, it's young Dwight Shrute!
posted by arto at 6:35 PM on December 5, 2009

Following shoebox's story, I have a very vivid memory of my first interaction with Santa. We grew up Jewish in northern California, and I'd so far never been introduced to Santa. No clue who he was or what Christmas was about.

So I'm in pre-school. Generally, I'm used to knowing what's going on. But things got weird one day. Teachers and students were talking about hearing animals on the roof. (Reindeer, presumably, but since that animal wasn't in my vocabulary, what I remember is "animals on the roof.") Animals on the roof? Really? I try hard to hear them, but simply don't hear anything. I look to a teacher for confirmation, someone usually trustworthy, right? And she is excitedly talking about these animals, confirming sounds I'm sure I can't hear. Very strange. I really don't hear anything. I'm not used to having such a different sensory experience than the rest of the class.

Next, having abandoned our art project in a hurry, we're all seated and some big person in funny clothes is sitting up at the front and I don't really have any idea what's going on. But everyone else is paying attention, and I'm a good kid, so I sit there and go along with whatever is happening.

But...then I'm supposed to sit on this guy's lap. I've never met the guy before! And then it gets weirder...he asks me "Have you been a good girl?" I'm totally flummoxed but this question. I think to myself, did I do something wrong? It sounds like he thinks I did something wrong! I remember saying "I think so..." but I'm completely puzzled. I remember more confusing conversation...he may have asked me what I wanted for Christmas, and I probably had no clue what he was trying to say.

Then this weird guy who thinks I did something wrong tries to give me candy. CANDY!!!! (Probably presented me with a candy cane, but again, not in my vocabulary.) I knew VERY clearly that my mother has ABSOLUTELY forbid me to eat candy. It is a clear rule with NO exceptions. So I say, uncertainly, "I'm not allowed to eat candy." It's very confusing that an adult is trying to make me eat candy when I thought the rule was no candy.

Then, thank goodness, I'm allowed to get off the guy's lap, and I melt back into the group of children sitting on the floor. Another kid takes my place on the man's knee.

When I got home I tried to explain what happened, and I remember my mother being pretty mad that the school had celebrated Christmas without her being able to exempt me from the celebration. I'm sure that this was the beginning of schools figuring out they should maybe notify parents before "holiday" celebrations occur. I don't think it had even occurred to the school that one of the kids might not know anything about Christmas or Santa.
posted by quinoa at 6:57 PM on December 5, 2009 [8 favorites]

I hate to be a stick in the mud but I'm not going to make my 2 year old daughter do this.

We never did it with our daughter, but of course that has a lot to do with the fact that the picture-with-Santa thing is not a tradition here in Japan. Christmas here seems to get bigger every year, but the kiddy picture thing is all but unknown. Of course, Santa has become an iconic character (in a country that loooves its characters), and I wouldn't be surprised if the picture-with-Santa starts gaining popularity. I'd imagine it might, if some department stores or malls start making a Santa available for photo shoots. But there's also no tradition of teaching kids that Santa comes on Christmas eve and leaves toys. The wife and I decided to not teach our daughter (now 9) that there is a Santa, and she's been just fine with that, since, of course, none of her little friends hold the belief either.

Gets me to thinking, though, that sitting on Santa's lap can perhaps be thought of as an early childhood rite of passage for American kids, particularly since parents persist in doing it even though so many of the little tikes cry and scream and bawl and get totally freaked out. I'm reminded of the Japanese tradition of the crying sumo festival, which acknowledges, embraces and celebrates the idea that, well, little kids (in this case, babies) get scared. It's part of growing up.

And then you've got Namahage, in northern Japan, which takes kid-scaring to a whole new level.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:05 PM on December 5, 2009 [5 favorites]

I'm a children's librarian and each year we do Santa storytime. I work in a branch that is extremely multicultural, tending towards Asian and Middle Eastern immigrants and refugees. You can imagine how this turns out. Last year I can remember a bunch of parents holding their screaming, crying and flailing baby against this fat man in a suit. They would flail so hard Santa couldn't actually hold them, but pictures must be taken! The lolly bribes worked well with the older set, but with the littlies there was no consolation to be had. The cultural impetus for 'photo with Santa' was such that the recent immigrants were all keen to participate, in spite of the (very loud, very vocal) opposition of the child.

So it was with much trepidation I took baby anachronism along this year. I waited until the end, chatting with my workmate running the show. I watched screaming child after screaming child being held in place, but it wasn't nearly as loud as last year. Finally I knelt down, precious daughter in hand, waiting for her to scream and ready to whisk her away if that was the case (no matter how much the grandparents want the pic, I'm not making her cry for it). Instead the little bugger reaches out, grabs the beard and looks around because Santa's lap is a great vantage point apparently. I figure the cultural history of 'fat man with a beard = grandpa' made it a little easier for me. Apparently my siblings and I were never freaked out by Santa, just the crowds. It was pretty normal for us to sit on a fat man's lap and get presents (beard status was variable).
posted by geek anachronism at 7:58 PM on December 5, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'm just thankful that Santa died for our sins.
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 8:53 PM on December 5, 2009 [3 favorites]

Sax boy: fraternity hazing? He seems to be enjoying it too much, though. Hmmmmmm.

It's a "funny" couple's card.
posted by The Whelk at 9:47 AM on December 6, 2009

Later in December, the SF Gate blog The Poop offers the Santa Tantrum Awards, from which the pictures are not quite as funny to me. (Though the Progression of Santa Terror graphic is great.)

I have conflicted feelings about Santa. If it were only up to me, I wouldn't celebrate Christmas or Santa but it's not only up to me. So ... Santa Claus isn't a real fat man with real reindeers that can fly and land on roofs (not to mention visit billions of people in one night). He isn't a person at all. He's just a symbol for our society's collective desire to give children presents anonymously once a year.

I think if I explain it carefully, my one-year-old will understand.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:11 AM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

posted by cinemafiend at 12:48 PM on December 6, 2009

In the early years, if a child was naughty, Saint Nicholas and the six to eight black men would beat him with what Oscar described as "the small branch of a tree."

"A switch?"

"Yes," he said. "That's it. They'd kick him and beat him with a switch. Then, if the youngster was really bad, they'd put him in a sack and take him back to Spain."

"Saint Nicholas would kick you?"

"Well, not anymore," Oscar said. "Now he just pretends to kick you."

"And the six to eight black men?"

"Them, too."
- David Sedaris
posted by griphus at 1:13 PM on December 6, 2009

"If you're at a loss, remember this: every human being loves touching and closeness."

-Dan Clowes' "The Sensual Santa"
posted by hydrophonic at 12:30 AM on December 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

I don't know who I feel more sorry for, The people playing Santa, or the terrified children. It seems like such a twisted ritual. Personally it was the Easter Bunny that scared the shit out of me...long eared, pink eye'd, grotesquely large rodent!
posted by gypseefire at 3:03 AM on December 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sint Nicolas' Day was yesterday. He rides in on a white horse, with his aid, Black Peter. Peter is black because of the work he does, the story goes. He's the guy that climbs down chimneys, so he can let the good bishop in the door.

Kids leave their shoes out near the fireplace or door, and Sint Nicolas puts clementines and marzipan and little toys in them, assuming they're good. Also they leave out sugar lumps and carrots, for the horse. The really naughty children are grabbed by Black Peter, and carried off in his bag.

Some say Peter takes them back with them to Spain. I figured he took them to wherever it is they keep the bad priests.
posted by Goofyy at 7:19 AM on December 7, 2009

OMG, that 6th one down on the first page at present. The Santa on the light blue chair looks like a Muppet!
posted by Jinx of the 2nd Law at 2:52 PM on December 7, 2009

ahhhhh, now i know why i was informed that my happy christmas tradition will no longer be passed on to my daughter. damn you meta-cynical cranks!
posted by ms.jones at 6:00 AM on December 11, 2009

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