Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Elf-Esteem: Today's Santas Could Use Some Christmas Cheer

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Elf-Esteem: Today's Santas Could Use Some Christmas Cheer

Article excerpt

I WAS AT the mall the other day and saw a tall, stringy Santa Claus who looked as if he just got out of rehab.

That's a terrible thing to say about a Santa, I know. And the other thing was, this particular Santa didn't really seem into it either.

Even when the little kids climbed on his lap and babbled about what toys they wanted, he kept glancing at his watch, as if he couldn't wait to get outside and fire up a Marlboro Light. The whole thing confirmed a suspicion of mine that's been growing for years: When it comes to the hiring of mall Santas, there has been an alarming decline in standards. There was a time in this country when, by God, you knew who Santa was. Santa was this ruddy-faced 5-foot-7 guy - 5-8, tops - who looked like a cholesterol nightmare. Sure, maybe he was working his tail off up there at the North Pole, banging out toys for all the good little boys and girls. But you knew as soon as it was quitting time, Santa was hitting the nearest Happy Hour and doing a one-and-a-half gainer into a platter of Buffalo wings. All you had to do was look at that gut hanging over that black belt. Now, what you have playing Santa are a lot of thin, edgy-looking guys who, if you take away the fake beard, look as though they should be in cologne ads in Vanity Fair. The other thing about these mall Santas is this: They keep getting younger and younger. Santa's supposed to be a guy in his 60s, maybe even his 70s, am I right? Take away the red fur outfit and you should be able to picture him wearing green Bermuda shorts and black knee socks, standing in line outside a Miami Beach steakhouse, waiting for the Early Bird special. This Pearl Jam disciple I saw playing Santa the other day, he couldn't have been more than 25. I'm surprised he wasn't wearing a Walkman. Apart from their physical limitations, what a lot of today's mall Santas lack can best be described as the jolliness factor. Speaking from a purely personal point of view, I don't want a Santa who looks as if he just watched an Oldsmobile slam into one of his reindeer. That's not what Santa's all about - at least not in my book. …

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