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December 01, 2015
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This year's gonna be different. I can feel it.

Hello Christmas sheep,

My name is Derek and for one month every year I’m a mall Santa Claus. Mall Santa Claus season is finally here and before I even pull that shiny black plastic belt around my barrel belly I have a message for all you Xmas-heads planning to meet old St. Nick at the local mall this Holiday Season: No More Bullshit. Not this year.

I’ve been throned up as the jolly man at the Northgate Mall off the Cross County Highway every December since 2003 and it’s always the same song and dance. Screaming kids, impatient adults, and teens with bad attitudes throwing soft pretzel cheese at me. All of them converging into my personal space and not only mucking it up but also casting judgement on me and how I do my job. I’m sick of it.

Mall Santa Clauses are easily the most recognizable and longest lasting seasonal American tradition. We’re bigger than 4th of July fireworks, pumpkin-spice lattes, and giving up something for Lent combined, and yet we can’t get an ounce of respect.

In a way, I get it. The persona of the “Mall Santa” has been skewed and perverted so deeply in modern pop culture that you’d think we’re all fat, bald, peppermint-schnapps-alcoholic, lifetime bachelors that don’t have a family to spend the Christmas season with so we make money from the local mall the only way we legally can: cash in hand (and, to a much lesser but still alarming degree, some people still think we’re all pedos).

But we’re not! We are hard-working men who clock in and out of a day job just like you. Outside of being mall Santas we are upstanding members of society, usually. We are fathers, or childless. We are church-goers, or agnostic. We are artists, or like sports. What I’m trying to say is we are humans. And this year it’s gonna be different when you walk into the Winter Wonderland that we’ve set up beside the fountain, north of the elevators, and if you hit the smallest cell phone case kiosk you’ve gone too far.

In that Winter Wonderland, I’m the boss. The big red guy. Beard man. And I’m laying down ground rules this year that are non-negotiable:

-No pulling the beard.
This rule has been officially on the books for years but, still, every time a kid pulls on my beard the parents giggle like their kid is some little mischievous darling. It’s not cute OR novel! You should really consider slapping your child in the mouth for ruining the magic.

-Every kid who sits on the lap has to buy a picture.
Here’s a little trade secret: Pictures are how we make our money. It’s simple, parents buying those pictures of toddlers screeching bloody murder and grabbing for momma are how we pay our bills, baby! They’re how we butter our bread (pudding), how we grease our (north) pole, and how we get our (holly-jolly) jollies. Money money money.

-If the kid says my breath stinks, he’s gone.
I drink coffee in the morning JUST LIKE 83% OF AMERICANS. Something’s wrong with your kid, not me.

-If the kid asks me why I have nose hairs you have to explain that everyone has nose hairs.
Don’t leave me hanging out their like I’m some sort of mutant freak. Kids are small and, inevitably, look up my nostrils from their eye-line. Hair is there. I’m not ashamed.

-If the kid goes to give me a big hug and kiss, don’t say, “Ooh, no, gross honey. Let’s go.” and then quickly drag the kid away by the arm.

-We demand bigger, stronger elves.
I like the small guys, it’s just that I always end up having to move the over-sized candy canes, which is not technically part of my job. It’s not like they’re too heavy, they’re just … awkward to handle, ya know?

-I don’t have to take my Santa suit off to take a crap.
I understand that the mall authorities don’t want young patrons to stumble onto Santa pushing out a brown gremlin on his lunch break but this is basic human function here, people! It’s not like “no BM’s” is part of the Santa Claus canon anyway.

So there. If you all cut the bullshit, abide by the rules, and simply acknowledge us as humans and not punchlines for your trip up the escalator, then we’ve got a very merry Christmas to look forward to. And who knows, us mall Santas might have a special present for all you good boys and girls that treat us well this year (the treats are ripped out pictures from old porno mags, mostly).

Merry Christmas Mother Fuckers,
Derek

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