As the holidays approach, mall Santas around the country begin flooding department stores, and children line up for their chance to speak to the Big Man, himself.
But what is it really like to step into the boots of this iconic character? Is it all candy canes and Christmas cheer -- or does suiting up as St. Nick just expose a person to more snotty noses and surly parents?
Social media site Reddit asked for the funniest, most heart-wrenching, most shocking things a child has ever asked a Santa for Christmas -- and some “real life” Kris Kringles answered! While Reddit contributors are anonymous except for their usernames -- and their stories cannot be verified -- they certainly had a lot to say.
The children's requests ran the gamut from silly (a walrus, to be the King of Alaska) to sad (extra food, to keep divorcing parents together). Many contributors recounted truly heartbreaking stories.
The stories, if true, show Santa through the eyes of children -- as more than just a giver of gifts. For some, he is a trusted friend and a symbol of hope.
Reddit user cbelt3 recounted struggling to hold back tears while playing Santa at an elementary school when two young siblings wished simply to keep their 7-year-old sister from dying from cancer. "Each of them perched on my knee, looked deep into my eyes and asked, quietly and from the depths of their hearts, ‘Please, Santa, I don't want any toys. I don't want anything. I just want my baby sister to get better.'"
Quantum_Mechanix recalled working as a Santa at a small local mall when a little girl asked if Santa could bring back her deceased dog. “The look on her face when I said no was heart-wrenching,” said the user.
Gettin_Hooked played Santa for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and encountered a remarkable little guy. "This boy with the biggest brown eyes in the world sat on my lap and whispered in my ear, 'Santa just tell Daddy we all miss him. But I'm being a brave boy and taking care of Mommy like he said. Mommy told me, 'Even you can't bring him back,' but tell him I love him, Santa,' and he patted my pillow belly and hopped down," leaving the volunteer Santa speechless.
A little boy shocked user HarleysQuinn by asking for guns: "Real guns. To shoot the bad guys who broke into mom's car and took my basketball." The user said the child's mother's car had recently been broken into and all that was stolen was the little guy's basketball -- his favorite toy.
VHZer0 recounts a story of a 6-year old boy asking for a car one Christmas -- so his baby sister wouldn't get cold on the way to the supermarket and his dad, a single father, wouldn't have to take the bus to work. VHZer0 wrote that the story had a happy ending.
Santa as bail bondsman? Among the more unusual requests, user ex-Santa recalls a child asking if Santa could use "his special magic to get dad out of jail."
Reddit user the_kraken, a Santa's helper at a mall, recalls a little girl asking for "boobies as big as mommy's."
Another user, duckah, describes a hilarious story of a mother who put all pride aside to keep the spirit of Santa alive for her skeptical child.
According to duckah, the boy was on the cusp of becoming a nonbeliever. When Santa asked what he wanted for Christmas, he replied, "If you're real, then aren't you supposed to know?" As Santa fumbled for words, the boy's mother dropped her shopping bags and began making a commotion in the middle of the mall, furiously jumping, punching and kicking the air. The quick-thinking Santa told the boy, "Well, you can't expect me to bring you those Power Rangers if you aren't a good boy and listen to your mother!" The boy's eyes grew wide and his jaw dropped, said duckah. Her overjoyed son turned to run and explain to his mother how Santa really is real and that he had proven it -- at least for another year. "Worth it," remembers the Santa.
Etervigila, a Santa who worked at Macy's in New York City, says he will never forget a little girl about 6 or 7 leaning in to whisper in his ear "I just want my mommy to be happy." He fought back tears and whispered to her that she made her mom more happy than he ever could.
Finally, user DorrinV remembers one Christmas as a Santa in a coffee shop. One child asked for a toaster that makes macaroni and cheese in a Pop Tart.
Santa, please tell us the elves have been hard at work on this one -- because we've all been very good this year and that is just plain genius.