Mall santas bring joy to kids and take gift requests. Some kids ask for gadgets and toys. For others, Christmas is about the basics and getting what they need.
seanjenkins asked older mall santas: How has what kids ask for changed over the years?
Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.
Surprise, kids like expensive stuff too.
My great uncle has been doing a mall Santa gig for the past 15 years or so.
He's mentioned before how all of the kids are asking for smart phones, Xbox's, and other gifts that cost hundreds of dollars. This is a large contrast to when kids would ask for bikes, dolls, etc.
Gifts are still relatively more expensive even after accounting for inflation. Many commenters have compared iPads and such to gifts from the 1970's, but he's only worked as a mall Santa for the past 15ish years.
Yeah, my dad is a mall Santa and he gets kids asking for phones and iPads constantly. He said to me once that he generally tries to talk kids down from those gifts. He says something like, 'iPads are pretty hard for my elves to make in our workshop, so I can't always guarantee that there will be enough iPads for every single good girl and boy in the world. I try my best, but if you don't get an iPad this year, you can always save your allowance or wish again real hard next year, okay?' Maybe not the best approach, but a lot of parents can't afford a big gift like that and he doesn't want them to be disappointed.
The times change, but kindness does not.
My great uncle (brother of grandmother), has been the mall santa for a few years and is on the billboards here (best santa if you ask me). He said he use to know what kids were talking about, but now they ask for games he has never heard of. He also said that it seems like older kids are coming to him more and more often just to tall to him. However he said the thing that never changes was that there are always some who ask for others to be helped, and that every kid is always happy to see him.
he use to know what kids were talking about
It is a bit nuts. My kids have cooled on the whole Yu-Gi-Oh thing, but now we like Pokemon and there's 14 different varieties and whatever. Those are the ones that I'm like ok with and can process. I have no idea what half the stuff my 8 year old is into is. And then you have to call Grandma and try to translate it - "Um, it's a Japanese thing, it looks like it's a dragon guy that Oh? Yes. Guy. Like a man sized body but he's a dragon. No, come on. Not a six foot man size. Like an action figure, with human looking arms and ... No, not a physical toy. You buy a disc that goes into the watch we got him last year and it makes the guy... Goddamn it, a basketball. He wants a basketball."
Well, that's good.
They quit asking for cigarettes.
"Can I have a mango juul?"
They've actually asked you for those?
Oh yea. I started smoking pipe when I was 8.
Dogs ask for less.
Took my kids to see santa last year, and it was 70% old folks taking their dogs to see santa. WTF is up with that?
Interesting that's allowed all the time. The town santa near me has a day/hours where you can bring dogs for photos.
Our local animal shelter hosts a Santa day for pets. They also offer microchipping with the cost of picture. It's pretty clever.
A local pet store does Santa photo where I'm at. I took my cat. It was hilarious
Some kids still need the basics.
I volunteer, and have for about 10 years, to be a Santa every year for various organizations. What I've noticed more than anything is the number of kids who just want the basics - they are so happy for the simplest things. I did my first volunteer gig yesterday, and already I had this little girl say that all she wanted was a blanket to keep warm with. I mean, my god, it tears you to pieces. They don't want toys, they don't want cell phones -- they want a blanket.
It gets harder ever year -- but I do it because I want to help these kids. I want them to know that someone cares.
And, btw, my partner and husband (who takes the pictures) made sure that family went home with a blanket -- and a toy for the little girl. We do our best - and luckily we have a network of friends who also help us help as many as we can.
EDIT: Thanks everyone for your kind comments and messages. Some of you have asked how you can help. I encourage anyone who has the means to participate by visiting your local mall which usually has a giving tree run by a local organization. You can also contact local churches and other assistance agencies and ask if they run similar programs. Honestly, even a small < $10 gift would mean the world to some people! Thank you everyone!
I did a volunteer gig the other day where we wrote wishes from kids in hard places for people to anonymously give.
Some of them really struck me:
Boy (8) wants some black pants.
Girl (11) wants "a nice dress".
Girl (9) wants a set of wool underwear.
Girl (7) wants a doll. A doll
I don't think it is possible for me to put myself in their shoes.
How about a nice, eh, football?
No more Red Ryder BB Guns.
Good riddance. You'll shoot your eye out.
"Only I didn't say fudge..."
Where did you learn that word?
It's not all holiday cheer.
My wife and I answer children's letters to Santa every year. How do we get them? I'm not technically supposed to answer that, but we usually answer a few hundred every year. We have the stationary, we have the custom envelopes, we have pens that aren't nearly as fancy as you'd expect but have "Santa's Elf" stamped on the side.
And every year... Let me tell you. Every year we get letters that tear us apart.
Had a kid once ask Santa for a picture of his grandfather who had died the previous year because all of his treasured photographs had been destroyed in a fire.
Had one a couple years ago who asked me to make his chronic, disfiguring illness away so that he would look like other kids.
Had one that just wanted Mommy to come back home.
It breaks something inside of you. Every single one. If Santa Claus was one man, just one guy who had to read these letters himself? Get a front row seat to all the ugliness in the world when the only bandaid he has to put on all that pain is a gift wrapped box? He'd have lost it a long time ago.
This little patriot.
I work as Santa's helper in the mall.
The best thing Santa told me was in 2004, I know it's not current, but a little girl asked for Osama Bin Laden to be killed.
Edit: I stand corrected. She actually asked if santa could kick his butt.
How do you even respond to that?
The Santa Clause had that "elves with attitude" scene of the elf squad, maybe tell the kid you've got a team of soldier elves to deploy lol
I took my 5 year old to see Santa last week and he asked for a watch. Santa looked pleasantly surprised. He even asked if there was anything else and 5 year old says: "Nope, just the best watch in the world you can find." Unfortunately now I have to figure out what the best watch in the world is.
Santa had no idea.
I'm sure there's a mall Santa somewhere that has gotten a request for V bucks.
I sh*t you not I was in the mall this morning and my wife and I overheard a parent talking to the 10 year old(?), asking what he wanted to ask Santa for and the kid said V bucks.
Parent asked again, surely there is something else you want - something Santa can put under the tree? V bucks.
Asked two more times, got the same answer.
My wife had to ask me if V bucks was some type of drug or something.
I've never heard of them. What are they?
A f*cking Fortnite currency, I sh*t you not.