If you're a little heavier and more hirsute than you intended for the holidays, perhaps you're considering stumping as a Santa. There are a ton of makeshift to full-fledged institutions out there that purport to help you pull off such an extreme identity, including:
- "School 4 Santas--International University of Santa Claus" (IUSC)
- "Santa School" ("Home of Canada's Top Santa")
- The Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School ("The World's Oldest"--est. 1937
- The Ministry of Fun--it includes a "Santa's Grotto"
Here's an interview with a candid, pre-gaming London Santa:
People think it's easy talking to children all day, but it can be tiring. You have to be a quick thinker. If a child asks where the reindeer are, I say they're up on the roof. If they say they've seen another Father Christmas, I say I'm the real Father Christmas, but because I'm so busy, I have to ask other people to dress like me and find out what children want. But really, there are no downsides. I love it.
What skills do you need to be a good Santa?
You need to have a chunky, fat figure and a realistic beard. There's no point in being skinny, because that's not children's idea of what Santa looks like. Having said that, I try to encourage healthy eating by telling the children that if they eat their carrots like Rudolph, they'll be able to see in the dark and might spot me on Christmas Eve. You've got to be able to persuade each child to feel comfortable. You need to respect their opinions and bring them out of themselves.
And coming in 2008: a Finish school for Elves! Offered by the Lapland Vocational College, the school will focus on "customer service, storytelling, and wilderness survival."