The Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School, an annual three-day retreat located about 125-miles northwest of Detroit, is dedicated to teaching and reinforcing the ethos of Santa impersonation for both aspiring and veteran Kris Kringles.
The 84th annual gathering took place this past October, and 200 Santas and Mrs. Clauses were in attendance to learn tips like drinking cayenne-spiked hot tea for appropriately husky vocal tenors, how to deal with unruly tots, and the best ways to conduct Zoom Santa visits in the digital pandemic age.
“We’re here to build the Santa spirit in your hearts,” school director and 47-year Santa veteran, Tom Valent, told his students, as reported yesterday by The Washington Post. That all certainly sounds nice and festive... so why do we feel so unsettled by the yuletide dispatch?
The photos in the magazine profile are something else, that’s for sure. In theory, a room full of jolly St. Nicks should garner a smile on anyone’s face, right? And yet, we can’t help but linger on the images like the Santas chilling next to garbage cans during their smoke breaks, or the Santa sporting both tribal and Nascar tattoos.
Then there’s the sad, oft-remembered fact that these guys paid $500 solely to learn how to better lie to children, right? Like, yeah, sure...we all have heard the cynical spiel about Santa being one big cruel fib told by parents the world over, but it’s another thing to read about actual strategies employed, such as using false aerial coordinates to convince children they know their home “address,” or conspiring with parents to learn what gifts they got the year prior.
“Local Santas can often be unfriendly to one another,” explains WaPo of mall Santa turf wars at one point, which certainly tracks after reading the entire piece.
And look, we’d certainly be remiss if we didn’t mention just how much of a...um...white Christmas it is over at Santa school. This is certainly in no way the Charles W. Howard Santa School’s fault, nor is it the attendees—anyone who can pay tuition can attend. But representation also matters, you know? Maybe that just speaks more to *gestures vaguely* everything else going on around us these days.
Sigh. We dunno. Our complaints can only go so far. Lest we forget that society is currently facing an unprecedented Santa shortage right now. Maybe we just miss Hanukkah, is all.
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