Friday, December 18, 2009

Santa as economic indicator

Well, folks, I don't generally recommend article from the Wall Street Journal on this blog but today I want to call your attention to one entitled "Please, Santa, get Dad his job back". Here's part of what it says:

As a longtime Santa Claus at a suburban Chicago mall, Rod Riemersma used to jokingly tell children they would get socks for Christmas if they were naughty.

This year, he stopped telling the joke. Too many children are asking for socks.

"They've probably heard their parents say, 'Geez, I wish I had some money to get them clothes,'" says the 56-year-old Riemersma.

A wintry measure of hard times can be found this holiday season on the knees of white-bearded, red-suited men around the country. A couple of years ago, children were shooting for the moon, asking St. Nick for Xboxes, iPods and laptops. But with the economy still fragile, many children are requesting basics such as shoes, library cards and even eyeglasses, say dozens of Santas who work at malls or on the party circuit.
The Kriss Kringles of America are doing their best to help children cope. Anticipating a deluge of recession-related questions, Connaghan in November sent advice to his e-mail network of 1,800 Santas.

The tips included telling worried children that "things will get better" and asking if Santa could "bring a surprise," instead of promising specific gifts. The job of a Santa "is to make the child feel better," he counseled. He suggested that Santas refer children to local charities to find Christmas gifts.

That's what Jim Lewis did. A Santa at a Bass Pro Shop outdoor-goods store in Denver, he blanched when a blond girl in a red plaid dress recently asked for a pair of eyeglasses so she could see the classroom board. He recovered in time to motion over one of his elves, who told the girl's mother about the local Lions Club, which helps provide needy children with prescription glasses.

"It would be wonderful if we could grant more wishes like that, but unfortunately, this is the exception to the rule," says the 60-year-old Lewis, a real-estate appraiser when he takes off the Santa suit.

There's more. Some of it is really very sad.

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