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10 Hilarious (and Heartbreaking) Stories About Meeting the Mall Santa Claus

Who wears an itchy white beard, a sweaty red suit, and gets peed on regularly? Why, Mall Santas, of course, and we've got the hilarious, and sometimes heartbreaking, true tales—straight from "America's Jolliest"!

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Santa-ClausMatt York/AP/REX/Shutterstock

They get no respect

If you think playing Santa Claus at the mall is an easy job, then you’ve probably never actually talked to one. But Reddit contributor rubikscanopener makes it clear that playing St. Nick at a mall in the deep South is no piece of red velvet cake, particularly when you’ve got an accent that betrays your Yankee roots. “I’m from the Northeast, and at the time, I was in college in the deep South. The funniest was one little kid who, after I had been chatting with him for a while, looked at me wide-eyed and said, Mr. Claus, you sound like a Yankee! After a few seconds of frantic desperation, I simply told him, Well, that’s because I live at the NORTH Pole.” Luckily the kid was satisfied with the logic. It didn’t hurt that he also walked away with a brand new football. Here are the 13 things your mall Santa won’t tell you.

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Santa-ClausBranden Camp/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Don’t even bother trying to outsmart them

Like Rubikscanopener, this Reddit contributor didn’t come to the job without at least some level of higher education. And it came in handy, especially when faced with a smart-alecky pre-teen who was obviously totally “over it” and only there to humor his parents. “When I asked him what he wanted, he flatly said, ‘coal,'” recounts Simon. “Being a jovial spirit, I followed up with bituminous or anthracite? Absolutely threw him for a loop.” If that made you laugh, you won’t be able to resist these hilarious Christmas jokes.

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Santa-ClausRobert F. Bukaty/AP/REX/Shutterstock

He’s sorry, but he’s not a magician

The same Reddit contributor also shares the story of having to manage the expectations of a grown woman who seemed to believe that her friendly, neighborhood mall Santa Claus was capable of working a romance spell on her beau. One night after a hard day’s work, Simon was hanging around with friends at a bar, still in costume (because, as he explains, “free drinks,” obviously). Waiting at the men’s room, Simon was approached by a woman who implored him to make her boyfriend propose to her. She was obviously inebriated, Simon observes, but it was still one of those “sheesh” moments, like “Lady, I’m just a guy in a costume!” Maybe it didn’t work for this particular woman, but hey, you never know. Here are some of the most outrageous marriage proposal stories we’ve ever heard.

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Santa-ClausDovarganes/AP/REX/Shutterstock

But sometimes there’s a diamond ring in that sack

There are moments when the man in the red suit does come bearing diamonds. “Jenny, you’ve been very good this year, so I have a special gift for you,” called out the Jolly One to Jenny Hoang with a wave of a white-glove, at a mall in Orange County, California, reports the OC Register. Apparently, the wave was a signal to the mall-elves, who in turn signaled to Jenny’s then-boyfriend, Jonathan Nguyen, that the big moment was about to unfold. Jonathan had rehearsed the moment countless times in his mind, so he knew exactly what to say when he stepped out of hiding.

“Jenny, I love you so much,” he said as he knelt with the ring (which, truth be told, didn’t actually come from Santa’s sack). “You mean so much to me. Will you marry me?”

“I love you. Yes!” said Jenny as Jonathan slipped the ring on her finger.

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Santa-ClausRobert F. Bukaty/AP/REX/Shutterstock

And sometimes there’s a mystery

“I live in Chicago and was at the downtown Carson Pirie Scott store doing my Christmas shopping when all of a sudden I hear ‘HO HO HO! Look who it is! It’s Hollis Heavenrich here to visit with us,'” Hollis Heavenrich-Jones tells Reader’s Digest.

As Hollis turned toward the store’s St. Nick, he continued talking. “Look, it’s Hollis! Hollis used to work at Rotary International in the public relations department! She’s always been a very good girl!”

“How do you know my name?” she asked him.

“I know every good little girl and boy! That’s my job!”

“No really,” she persisted. “How do you know who I am?”

“Why, I know everyone, of course!” he told her.

Hollis stood staring and not making a connection, and ultimately, left the store completely baffled and resigned to the fact that she would never solve the mystery. Three years later, however, it was at a party that a man came up to Hollis and asked if she’d had a “weird encounter” while Christmas shopping, say, three years earlier?

A bell went off in Hollis’ head. “You!!” she shouted. Turns out they were in the same improv class years earlier.

Apparently, he was so committed to his job at the time that he didn’t want to blow his cover.

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Santa-ClausAhmad Yusni/Epa/REX/Shutterstock

The heartbreaking truth

If you’re going to take on the role of Santa Claus at the mall, you’re going to have to steel yourself for some heartbreaking stories. “My uncle works as a mall Santa during the holidays,” another Reddit user explains, “He says the saddest part is the amount of kids who ask for their deceased parent/family member to come home for Christmas. It’s not a huge amount of kids, but it is common enough for my uncle to bring it up when people ask about his experience.”

The uncle’s response: “Well, they love you very much. And they’re always with you and happy to see you.”

These heartwarming stories of meeting Santa will fill you with Christmas spirit.

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Santa-ClausBrennan Linsley/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Maybe it was a getaway car?

Reddit-user Ex-Santa played the part for four seasons, but one of his oddest and oddly funny memories was when a kid at the front of the line said very loudly to his mom—loudly enough for everyone in the mall to hear, in fact—”Hey Mom? Can I ask him to use his special magic to get dad out of jail?”

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Santa-ClausHong/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Bad Santa

Sometimes it’s the kid who deserves a lump of coal in his Christmas stocking, other times, it’s the fat guy in the red suit, and sometimes, it’s the smart-aleck at the airport.

“My dad looks like Santa,” says Reddit user, Day to Dave. “This one time, we were in an airport, and a couple sent their kid up to him to ask if he was.”

“Ho ho ho,” Dave’s dad replied, and asked the kid what he wanted for Christmas.

That’s when the kid froze, so Dave’s dad suggested perhaps he wanted “a thousand dollars worth of gifts.” The kid seemed happy with that, and Dave’s dad promised he’d have them on Christmas morning.

Then Dave’s dad winked at the parents, who looked horrified as they hurried away.

We hope the parents found our insider tips to save money on holiday shopping useful.

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Santa-ClausRobert F. Bukaty/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Very, very good Santa

Reddit user Crissie 2389 recalls the time when a Walmart Santa’s goodness was simply overwhelming. “The next kid in line was a boy of about eight or nine, and he was so frail looking,” Crissie recalls. “He was trying to say what he wanted for Christmas, but he could only speak in a whisper, and no one could really understand what he was saying. Finally, he said a little more audibly: my tummy’s tired of hurting, and so is Mommy’s and Daddy’s, but Daddy can’t find another job yet because he has an owie.”

Next thing anyone knew, Santa was calling the manager of the store, who showed up with a cart carrying all the fixings for a dinner, as well as canned goods, soups, and snack foods. “They gave it all to the family. And I didn’t even notice that a half hour had gone by while this was happening because I knew this boy and his family weren’t going to go hungry, at least not that night.”

These stories prove true Christmas miracles still exist.

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Santa-ClausJohn Riley/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

The obligatory pee story

No mall-Santa story is complete without one. This one comes from Reddit user Mr Shy, who lets us in on exactly how this sort of thing happens.”It was obvious the kid definitely wanted to pee,” says Mr. Shy, but he was gracious and let the kid on his lap anyway, knowing full-well the risk. Patiently, Mr. Shy gave his usual introduction and asked the child what she wanted for Christmas.

Not all that surprisingly, the kid replied, “I wanna pee.”

As was his job, however, Mr. Shy tried to change the topic to help the kid choose, get the picture taken, and move on.

“I wanna pee,” was all the kid would say, however, even as the parents insisted she choose something and smile for the camera. “I just sat there awkwardly, with this little girl crying and wriggling.”

Then his lap got warm. And that’s how it happens, folks.

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest, The Huffington Post, and a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction; her first full-length manuscript, The Trust Game, was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.

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