The Common Good

Santa Knows All (Even Your Budget)

*Warning: SANTA SECRETS AHEAD. Shoo the children.*

In rough economic times such as these, we try extra hard to get the kids in our lives a little something special for Christmas. We may have to tighten our belt to the “painful” notch, but it’s worth it for the face you get in return for the Tickle Me Elmo, or the ZuZu pet, or whatever it is this year.

But what about Santa? Does he have a budget? He certainly has a belt, but does it get tightened in harsh (let’s not say LEAN) times? Maybe Santa could stand to lose a few…

Well, according to Fred Honerkamp, Old Saint Knick understands your finances.

NPR’s Lynn Neary ran an interview with Fred Honerkamp, a Santa stand-in and graduate of The Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School this week. He details his efforts to manage the expectations of kids who ask for high-tech gadgets and wallet-busting toys. He’s not crushing dreams, he’s watching your back, mom! Don’t think that he doesn’t see you cringing from behind that felt rope when your kid asks for a LEGO Star Wars Death Star that costs $399.99.

According to Honerkamp, Santa never makes promises anything specific, and instead of saying an outright “No,” he’ll tell stories, like this one, in response to an iPad request:   

Ooh, I wish you hadn’t asked for that.

Have you ever been to the North Pole? Oh, of course not. But up there, we have Building 2 — you go out of the Main Lodge, the snow is very deep, you go down to Building 2, and that’s where we do our electronics. And the little elf that’s making the iPads, is an elf named Rupert. And guess what he’s doing? He’s playing with them! We’re way behind production — I don’t know what I’m going to do! I don’t think we’re going to be able to fill the iPad orders.

But it’s not all consumerism.

What about the kids who really get it, who, with their incredible sensitivity, ask Santa not for toys, but for help? 

“Children are little barometers of their environment,” says Honerkamp. “They’ll put a hand up to Santa’s ear and whisper something like, 'Can you get daddy a job?' or 'Can you help us sell our house?' And in each of those cases, we say 'We can’t get daddy a job, we can’t sell your house. What we can do is, Mrs. Claus and I know you’re going through a tough time, and we’ll get down on our knees tonight and say a special prayer for you and your family.'”  

Honerkamp also recalls a child who asked for Santa to give her gifts to a child who “really needs them.”

Are you crying yet?

So Santa encourages simple gifts, says nightly prayers, and lets the little children come to him. Sound familiar?


Carrie Adams is Media Affairs Associate for Sojourners. Follow Carrie on Twitter @MadameCAdams

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