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It is tough being Santa · 5.12.07 by colin newell

It`s tough being Santa ClausConsider the life of the Red Elf in the year 2007.

Saint Nick’s white gloved hands are always visible and he buys liability insurance, for good measure. He never asks where children live and he has no political stripe.

The man in the red suit endures criminal background checks like everyone else… and if you are Santa, don’t even try to get on an Airplane in North American air space – his instincts for being pilot are simply too strong.

Today’s Santa is poked, prodded and shaped to fit the 21st century. It’s no longer enough to show up at the mall, laugh merrily and balance children on his lap.

In shopping malls across Canada, Santa Claus is watching his back. Todays Santa is politically ignorant… neutral. Santa does not curse and is always Holly Jolly.

One would hope if there’s anyone in this world you can trust, it’s Santa. In 2007, however, Santa is verified by Verisign, MasterCard, EBay and Visa first.

Liability insurance, underwritten from the North Pole, spares Santa from unwarranted litigious grief. And with the question… “Is there Lead in this train-set Santa?” Santa had better answer correctly!

Imagine: A child is walking by and trips – not even near you – and gets hurt – Santa is sued as an attractive nuisance.

Santa shares the same choreographer as Madonna: each word and hand movement is tightly regulated. Tricks of the trade are passed down from Santa to Santa at places like The International University of Santa Claus.

Curriculum includes how to hold children correctly, managing tough conversations and proper care of hair, beard and hygiene.

Santa must never, ever make promises he can’t keep.

But what of the average pre-teen or tween? I picture a 9 year old whose Blackberry incessantly rings during recess… In the guise of Santa I approach with the caution of a seasoned alligator wrestler.

Hello. Excuse me young person… I ask. “Uhm – I am currently skyping, podcasting and social networking here Mister!” as I ask a supervised question – teachers and parents look on… The blackberry chirps again… “Excuse me”, the youngster says… “I have to take this…”

But what of the children?

In my day, lead was an active and prominent ingredient in virtually every toy. And Santa was more like Hulk Hogan than Mister Rogers. Any 300 pound man in a frilly red suit was meant to be scary – it built character and caution into the young ones.

But what of the children?


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