Santa Waits at the Mall

Progressive Santa Does His Thing

 

Santa Claus had finally had enough. As the years advanced, much of the world became increasingly antagonistic towards him, as if he was some sort of religion. The general sentiment of “believe if that works for you” was championed throughout this yuletide season. He was cast aside—a relic of an archaic world which had outgrown him. So this year, he figured he’d meet the demands of this new society. Those who believed in jolly ol’ Saint Nick would find an expertly-wrapped package from their wish list under their trees. Those who did not would not merit a Christmas Eve visit.  No more Naughty or Nice lists. No more lumps of coal. This was the new Santa. These are his stories.

 

***

 

Santa Waits at the Mall

 

It was a fact that most businessmen in the shopping mall industry were believers in Santa Claus. They had to be. That’s how they contacted Santa to get him to sit in their rotundas for hours on end. There was a time Santa thought he’d have to stop doing mall visits because of his bad knees, but now he found them indispensable. Belief in him was reaching an all-time low. He needed the publicity. But Santa learned something. Not only was belief in him plummeting, but so was belief in shopping malls. He looked around the dimly lit corridor, festooned with “SPACE AVAILABLE” signs. There were maybe four people within view, none of whom were kids.

Santa sighed. He didn’t like leaving early for fear of a kid coming in vain, but he felt the need to indulge in his selfish desires today. He gave a few presents to Marge, his contact at this particular mall. Marge reluctantly accepted the gifts, but she understood why Santa wanted to leave. She’d leave if she could. The place was a dismal relic of a better time.

He thought back to just a few weeks earlier. The Christmas season kicked off right on Thanksgiving Day with the big Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. So many children (and some adults!) were ecstatic to see him. The excitement waned fast. He couldn’t recall a December where he felt sad. How could he? There was joy and merriment to go around, right?

Santa looked back to his schedule. He had three more malls today, all at the same time. Though time constraints usually weren’t a concern for Saint Nick, he thought to himself that he’d only have time for one.

When he traveled to his destination, he saw more of the same. Boarded up shops lined dimly lit halls with meager lifeless faces patrolling their length. He sat there for a little while, anxiously hoping someone would come for a picture, but no one did. He left early and headed for the second mall on the list. Again, no one bothered to visit.

Begrudgingly, Santa went to the third and final mall. He wanted to return home to give his wife at least something that was hopeful. The North Pole needed hope.

This time Santa didn’t leave early. He sat there on his fed faux suede throne, surrounded by cardboard red and green gifts, feeling miserable. Not a single child came to see him. The only interaction with people he’d had were his contacts at each mall. But they were busy—too busy to chat with. Too busy to ask them if they’d been a good boy or girl (he’d still ask this, despite the new rules), too busy to pose for a photo, too busy to give them a small candy cane… He glanced at his watch. He’ll need to be leaving soon.

“Santa?”

The yuletide saint looked up from his chair at see a young girl smiling at him. Little Suzy Arbogast. He beamed. “Hello there! Why don’t you come on up here and talk to me a bit?”

Suzy skipped over to Santa and jumped onto his lap. They had a marvelously long chat. He asked if she was a good girl (she was), they posed for photos (ten of them!), and she ended up taking the basket of candy canes home with his blessing.

Santa smiled a smile he’d been needing since the day after the parade. The entire day, he decided, was worth it, to bring that kind of joy and excitement to Suzy. He’d sit through another week of depressing mall visits for a chance like that again!

Santa got into his sleigh and went home for the night. Hope rang true at the North Pole that night. Though the number of believers kept dwindling, the bad times could always be weathered.

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