13 Things Your Mall Santa Won't Tell You

Interviews by Michelle Crouch

Ever wondered what it's like to be a mall Santa --The object of adoration of kids and adults alike? Here mall Santas from around the country share their best secrets like how they manage screaming kids, sticky conversations, and that Santa beard!

Plus: 12 More Things Your Mall Santa Won't Tell You

1. Never force your screaming kid onto my lap. Just bring him close and give me a few minutes. I've got plenty of tricks up my sleeve.

2. Some of us get bonuses for making our daily photo quota. So please forgive me if I try to move things along.

3. I make around $10,000 a season doing this, but cut me some slack. Between October and December, most of us work about forty 10-hour days and listen to 30,000 children.

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4. Wondering why both of my white-gloved hands are always where you can see them? Ask my lawyer.



5. I'm sorry Grandma is in heaven or that Mom and Dad have split up. But even Santa can only do so much, so let's just stick with what you'd like to unwrap on the big day.

6. Want to have more than just a few seconds with me? Skip the mall. Let's meet at your kid's preschool or a photo studio that invites Santa in for special portraits.

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7. As a matter of fact, I did go to school for this. Topics of study: how to hold children, manage sticky conversations, and care for my hair and beard.

8. I don't have total recall. Don't come back after a few minutes and ask what your kid requested. Stand close enough to listen.

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9. Those of us with real beards think we're superior. But the best of the rest of us pay as much as $3,000 to wig makers to make us authentic-looking whiskers.

10. I see you vigorously nodding your head, but even so, I will never, ever promise anything to a child.

11. Boys tend to give it to you straight: "I want a Game Boy and a remote control car." Little girls want to explain everything.

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12. Is Santa real? "Well," I reply, pinching myself and grimacing, "I feel real."

13. I've been kicked in the shins, hit in the groin, scratched, bitten, and peed on. But there's a reason I keep doing this year after year: This is the best work I've ever found.

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