Visiting Ol’ St. Nick

Do you remember taking your kids to the mall to see Santa? Hoping in vain that the line didn’t stretch all the way back to Terre Haute? All the screaming, crying and whining, and that was just from the parents? Oh yeah, those were the days.

Recently, I saw a picture of a toddler who had fallen asleep while waiting to see Santa. St. Nick wisely asked the parents not to wake the little guy. He arranged himself on his chair, with the toddler in the crook his elbow, as if they had both fallen asleep while reading The Night Before Christmas. It was a spur of the moment photo, that I’m sure the family will treasure for many Christmases to come. I’m pretty sure Santa will treasure it as well, since the photo went viral, and turned him into an instant celebrity.

To be honest, I don’t remember much about my visits with Kris Kringle when I was little. I vaguely recall hitting up the reindeer driver with a laundry list of expected presents, before turning over his lap to my sister, or one of my brothers. I can’t even remember where we used to visit the big guy. Since Eastland Shopping Center had only been built two years before I was born, I don’t think we would have been to Hudson’s to see the jolly old elf. More than likely, we went to another local department store, such as Federal’s, where my Aunt Aurilee worked. However, I do know we saw St. Nicholas, I have photographic evidence.

Santa has played a prominent role in many movies over the years, but none as great, at least in my opinion, as in A Christmas Story. If you are somehow unfamiliar with this classic, our intrepid hero Ralphie is on a quest for a Red Ryder BB Gun and seeks out Mr. Hohoho’s help in a last-ditch effort to acquire his blue-steel beauty. However, Santa hits him right between the eyes with that famous line, “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.” Ralphie is crushed.

Given the state of the retail industry these days, I’m concerned that many Mall Kringles may be cast out of their work-homes and onto the streets. This will certainly start a turf war with the Bell-ringer Santas, who have already staked out their territory at local shopping centers. This could get ugly. So the next time you’re at your local mall, give Santa a wave from me. Who knows, maybe next year the fat man will be fighting it out on the mean suburban streets. Peace on Earth, indeed.

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