Story Behind the Story: Bad Santa

The holiday season is in full swing, which means, if you have kids, you are probably getting ready for a big event: the visit with Santa Claus.

You never know who is under the beard and glasses and big red hat.

Here's a perfect example.

I was 20 years old, hadn't yet broken into the news business, and was looking for a job over my Thanksgiving and Christmas break from college.

I applied for a job at Media Play in Syracuse, thinking I would stock shelves and help customers out.

They told me they had no jobs left...except one.

They needed a store Santa Claus.

At first, I said no. Then, I thought about it, decided I needed the money, and agreed.

They obviously did not care what I looked like, they just needed a warm and willing body to fill the Santa suit, ring a bell, and have kids sit on his lap.

However, I was not the ideal Santa, physically. I was 20 years old, 6'4 and 200 pounds.

I put the suit on, stuffed myself with a pillow and put the wig, hat and glasses on.

I looked in the mirror, and cracked up. I looked ridiculous.

Think...Frankenstein Santa.

Kids were scared of me, and the ones who weren't felt sorry for me. They would give me gifts, with sympathy notes.

It was painful.

I had to walk around and ring the bell and yell "ho ho ho," while wearing sneakers covered by something supposed to resemble boots.

My friends would all come to the store and laugh at me. My family was ashamed. I think my mom came in one time, just to tease me.

But, I settled into my Santa Claus role, and eventually, kids would sit on my lap and tell me what they wanted for Christmas.

One little girl even gave me a kiss on the cheek and said, "I love you Santa."

Those were the moments when you felt good about what you were doing and understood why these mall Santas are so important.

I tried, and gave it my best. However, I was never asked to come back after that Christmas.

At least I got paid to look like an idiot.

Some things never change. ; )

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