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Embracing the Time When Santa is Still Real

WallCandy Dad as St. Nick... a long time ago.

WallCandy Dad as St. Nick… a long time ago.

You’ll always find exceptions to the rule, but child psychologists generally agree it is healthy for young children to believe in Santa Claus. Like the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny, fantasy characters help build an active imagination. Cornell University once did a study with 500 elementary school children in New York and Iowa and discovered that on average, kids stop believing in North Pole magic around 7-and-a-half years old.

So that doesn’t leave you much time to hold onto the legend.

My advice, based on my first-hand experience as a Shopping Mall Santa, is choose your Santa wisely. The Santa in the picture above is me as a college student making some extra holiday cash. I got into a bit of trouble with my boss improvising with the traditional script — apparently, Rudolph eats carrots, NOT mushroom-and-onion pizzas — but I did my best to perpetuate the character’s charitable reputation.

However, I would not hire the 21-year-old me as St. Nicholas. I would not hire anyone not eligible for an AARP card. Age discrimination is totally justifiable if the photography company does not have access to Hollywood make-up artists. I was given some chalk to color my eyebrows white and I was not fooling anyone. Cottonball beards don’t fake out kids anymore either.

If you want to make Santa believable, hire a professional who believes he is Santa year round.

Professional Santa Clauses are unionized.

Professional Santa Clauses are unionized.

California, Nevada and Arizona have a professional association called the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas (FORBS), which sets facial hair standards for members, asks them to endorse a code of ethics about spreading the joy of the holidays, offers training workshops, and perhaps most important, screens applicants with criminal background checks. If you’re curious, here are the FORBS Goals & Tenets.

Once your safety concerns are met, if you cannot get a good Santa referral, scout out your local shopping mall North Pole alone before bringing the kiddies. Ask yourself one question: Does this Santa look believable? Or at bare minimum, can I be sure that this Santa won’t scare my kids?

The horrific image below is from Sketchy Santas, a Tumblr blog devoted to family photos that prove not all Santas are created equal. Rubber masks strip Santas of their humanity. The one below looks extremely creepy and intoxicated.

Choosing the wrong Santa can scar your child for life. (Source: SketchySantas.com)

Choosing the wrong Santa can scar your child for life. (Source: SketchySantas.Tumblr.com)

There are far more pleasant examples of Christmas and holiday imagery, of course, including the fun-spirited spin from WallCandy Arts. Check out the whimsical Dancing Deer Removable Wall Decals below. THIS is how the reindeer act after they take off the chains from Santa’s sleigh and get the next 364 days off!

Santa's Reindeer Take Center Stage -- Double click any of the deer antlers for more information on WallCandy's Dancing Deer Wall Decals!

Santa’s Reindeer Take Center Stage — Double click any of the deer antlers for more information on WallCandy’s Dancing Deer Wall Decals!

If you’re looking for some unique wall decorations that won’t harm your wallpaper or drywall, and can be reused year after year, check out WallCandy’s full Holiday Section for our complete Christmas offerings. Like the Dancing Deer, you won’t find these images anywhere else. We hire our own designers to put their unique spin on the season — from build-your-own Gingerbread Houses to Holiday Lights and Merry Trees.

(How are you decorating your walls for the holidays? Please share your Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanzaa pics and memories on the WallCandy Facebook page or on the WallCandy Pinterest Boards!)

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