I worked a couple of Christmas seasons for one of those outfits where the kids can have their pictures taken with Santa Claus. Sometimes I set up the booth, sometimes I assisted with the children, sometimes I handled the money, and sometimes I even played Santa. Here is what little I remember after all these years.

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We had a sign explaining our photo packages. It read something like this:

One Large Photo $5.95
Two Small Photos $7.95
Set Of All Three Photos $11.95
A typical conversation between one of Santa's helpers and one of the local yokels would go like this:
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That's all I remember that fits the category of "help desk," but here are some other memories I have:
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My favorite response to Santa's question "What do you want for Christmas?" was from the first grader who said, in his most emphatic voice, "I want a gun, and I want you to get my brother out of jail!"
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When playing Santa, I didn't wear my glasses because I didn't think they looked the part. Several times one of the helpers would lean over and whisper, "There's a kid waving at you from down the mall." I would turn and smile and wave, and the helper would say, "No, no, the other direction!"
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I had one mother come see me (playing Santa) before her son got there, so she could tell me that "He still carries a security blanket. His older brother gave his up the year Santa told him he had outgrown it."

When the boy got to me, we finished our usual business, and I told him how much I liked his blanket but added, "You're getting to be such a big boy that you don't need to carry that around anymore, do you?" He just shrugged his shoulders as he slid off my lap.

Twenty minutes later the mother came back and reported, "He threw his blanket in the trash can!"


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Now, this isn't funny, but the weirdest thing that happened was when I played Santa for the first shift on Saturday morning, and halfway through the shift I was told that I would have to work a double shift, because my replacement wouldn't be coming in. It seems he was an informant for the police department, and he had gone out the previous night to lure some drug pushers into a trap. They had caught on before the big bust went down and had killed him in multiple unpleasant ways.

Okay, try being jolly for the next three hours!

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Closing thought:

Often a child would want his picture taken with Santa, but the parents would say, "We'll come back later." Sometimes they would add, "We'll wear some nicer clothes for the picture," or "We'll bring Baby Brother next time." I remember one time when a little girl sat on Santa's lap, talked for a long time, and then said, "Mommy, can I have my picture taken with Santa?" The mom replied, "We'll come back later," and that pacified the child.

Did I mention that it was Christmas Eve, five minutes before closing time?