I have been charged with the task of finding a "Santa" for my boss's holiday party. I've always found this (American?) idea of meeting the "real Santa" really, really weird. Why would anyone want their child to sit on some strange man's lap just because he's wearing a funny costume and has a tobacco stained beard? Is any child over the age of 3 really that naive as to believe that Santa is hanging around in the local mall? And if they aren't 3 then why bother - they won't remember it anyway? Isn't it so much more magical, interesting and imagination cultivating to not spoil/cheapen the idea of Santa by having him appear at said mall?
Perhaps I am an overly skeptical person and perhaps I was from a young age, but I have distinct memories of telling my father I believed in Father Christmas (as he is called in our family) mostly to keep him happy, much in the same way I ate the pancake he made using the entire jug of batter while my mother was away - I didn't want to hurt his feelings. My brother was still living at home then and we were in Syria, so I couldn't have been older than 5, when I expressed to my father that I was worried Father Christmas wouldn't be able to get into the house, as there was no chimney. He made a big show of leaving the door open a crack and was utterly thrilled to do so. I stood back and watched him enjoy himself, knowing that there was no way a fat man in a red suit would be flying all over the world giving people presents. It made about as much sense as believing in a man who sat up in the sky watching and judging our every move.
But I digress.
In my search for the perfect party Santa, I came across this, the website for the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas convention taking place in wonderful, Overland Park, Kansas: "Overland Park is "The Natural Choice" for your vacation or business destination."
I've been to Overland Park, Kansas. My experience there reinforced every single stereotype I had developed about the Midwest, from the awful, sugary food from cans, packets or boxes, to the various amphetamine habits of the inhabitants, to the disgusting strip mall culture all the way to racist morons (I was, in all actuality, called a "Sand Nigger" when I was there).
It is not the "natural choice" for anyone's vacation and these poor Santas, traveling from such far away, nice, places such as Sweden or Germany are going to be utterly horrified. Much more than they were at last years convention which was in Branson, Missouri, also known as Vegas for Christians.
Moving on, I also came across this site and then burst out laughing. I am made uncomfortable by these sorts of things and thus resort to laughing: it smacks of pathetic effort. Look at Santa Dave from Vista, California. He's had professional photos taken, he probably has a head shot he sends out. Never mind that the photos were taken at Sears and he's looks almost as made up as Michael Jeffries, it's the effort that shows. And it makes me uncomfortable that so much effort is put into something so depressingly bad.
Santa Herbert of Vallejo and Napa Valley has a picture that looks like it was taken off of the Megan's Law website and Santa Randy of San Francisco just looks pissed.