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Help from Santa in a Bad Economy


‘Tis the season of lengthy, crayon-scrawled Christmas lists being sent off to the North Pole by hopeful children. But in the face of a lagging economy, it seems that parents with lighter wallets have an unexpected ally in curbing their kids’ unrealistic Christmas morning expectations: Santa Claus.

Students at the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Michigan—considered the Harvard of Santa schools—are being taught how to rein-in excessive demands made by their little visitors, reports the New York Times.

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“I try to guide the children into not so unrealistic things, and I do tell them that Santa’s been cutting back too,” explained Tom Ruperd, a Santa from Michigan.

The school, which was founded in 1937 by former Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade Santa Charles W. Howard, trains other would-be Santas in the evolution of the character of Saint Nicholas, costume care and now, how to help parents who are in monetary binds. Times are tougher for many, but children still show up armed with ambitious printouts and catalogue clippings that have replaced more modest lists.

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“When kids start asking for the world now, I just say, ‘Hey, look, Johnny, you ain’t getting all that,’” said Rick Parris, a former Alabama state trooper and seasonal Santa. “I just make sure to let them know that Santa seldom brings everything on a list.”

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However, not all of the Christmas requests are materialistic. “If they asked for something that’s totally impossible—a job for Daddy, say—I usually tell them, ‘Santa specializes in toys, but we can always pray on the other,’ ” Ruperd said. “ ‘Is there anything in toys that you’d like?’ ”

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Have you had to cut back on Christmas presents due to the economy? How do you explain to your children that Santa cannot bring them everything they want?