I have been troubled over the weekend, on the horns of a dilemma, wrestling with my conscience, between a rock and a hard cliché.
But I feel my responsibility is to use this platform at Festive Treason to uphold important standards which just last week, this very site condoned breaching.
So as much as I respect Noel, he knows not what of what he speaks when he talks shopping centre Santas.
Oh sure, he’s got some good schtick about the history of the tradition (read it HERE if you haven’t) but his final pleas to push the boundaries of personal hygiene when donning the red suit are just plain irresponsible.
The role of shopping centre Santa is highly specialised, I know this because I have been a shopping centre elf.
Through this direct, poorly paid and humiliating University holidays experience wearing an itchy and unflattering rayon outfit over 6 weeks in the middle of a Brisbane summer, I learned a few things about Santas.
The first thing is that Shopping Centre Santas are all arseholes IRL (that’s “in real life” if you’re over 25) – they are invariably sexist and have a God complex which is dramatically exacerbated by the role they play.
They are unable to separate themselves from the suit.
In a word, dickheads.
If that’s you, by all means find yourself a job as a Shopping Centre Santa, but have the decency to do it properly.
These guys do play an important role. Firstly they generate significant revenue for shopping centres by forcing parents to pay way too much money for a photo of their child sitting with Santa.
They are also often the only contact a child as directly with the Santa Claus myth.
We know that Christmas isn’t unadulterated joy from one minute to the next for adults, but for kids, it can be. And I’m all in favour of keeping Christmas cynicism to the over 15s for as long as possible.
So, to all you would-be Santas out there, please ignore Noel and apply yourself diligentlyto the task if you’re going to take it on.
But being a good Santa isn’t confined to staying off the grog and keeping your teeth clean (both good starts), the more I look into what makes a good Santa Claus, the more I realise there is to it.
And as in most things, we are fortunate to have the ridiculousness of the USA to guide us.
In the USA, and to a lesser extent in the UK, would-be Santas can fork over a lot of hard-earned to get appropriate training in the delicate art of Santa Clausing.
Exciting news for people who are not degree qualified, the International University of Santa Claus can get appropriately vetted candidates (read: white men, beards preferable) a Bachelor qualification in just 16 hours.
By anyone’s standards, this is extraordinary fast-tracking. Doogie Howser himself could not have finished his undergraduate degree in this time.
Even better – do the course twice (possibly even on a 4 day cruise to the Mexican Riviera) and you’ve got yourself a Master’s degree.
Aren’t those of us who went the old-fashioned route just imbeciles?
Now there is a PhD option, but don’t think you can just phone that in by doing the Bachelor qualification three times.
Nope, you also need to deliver a dissertation on an approved topic.
For those of you who haven’t spent an enormous amount of time in Universities, the term “dissertation” can refer to the major part of the student’s total time spent (along with two or three years of classes), and may take years of full-time work to complete. It’s like a massive essay and is generally required to contribute something new to the scholarship of your chosen subject.
Fear not though, from the Santa University, your dissertation will be a presentation of some 20 minutes on an approved topic.
There are suggestions for what topic you might choose. Personally, I’m looking forward to the “Dos and Don’ts of sitting in a chair”.
It is high time our Australian Universities got on board with this type of innovative degree-delivery and high time our shopping centre managers demanded some more rigour in the Santa Claus recruitment.
I say we demand real beards and PhDs from our Santa Clauses before they get to be massive jerks to the elf who is doing an actual degree as well as grappling toddler queue management, camera wrangling, parental liaison AND fetching friggin cold drinks for a clean shaven jerk in a white polyester beard who gets all the damned credit.
Yes Noel, there is a Santa Claus – and he needs some goddamned professional standards!
PS And here’s a tip to would-be employers – when someone says they have a degree, might be worth checking what that means.