PRETZER: Santa can be anything for everyone

I am tired of those who think that playing with how Santa is represented when not in a community himself is somehow inappropriate and damaging for those trying to go about the holiday season.

Is it really so bad if this guy looks a bit different? File photo

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Another Christmas season means it is once more time for “controversy” to surround some impersonators of the man from the North Pole.

Every year it seems like there are issues with some representatives of Santa Claus somewhere in the world. Medical professionals in the United Kingdom have previously said some there are too heavy, one in the United States was ordered to tone down his performance due to the presence of naughty and nice tattoos on his arms, and, recently, a Santa stand-in out in British Columbia lost his job over some photos.

Gary Haupt worked for the Cherry Lane Shopping Centre in Pentiction. He was supposed to carry out the real Santa’s duties in the community until the evening of Dec. 23, but, then, two photographs he uploaded online led to his exit. In one, he was holding his gloved hands in front of a woman’s chest, but not touching her, and in the other, he appeared to be drinking from what was a closed hip flask.

He did these on his own time separate from his former position. Whether it is the folks who canned this man or people who feel that Santa Steve at the West Edmonton Mall “needs to be plump” or is somehow “disturbing”, I am tired of those who think that playing with how Santa is represented when not in a community himself is somehow inappropriate and damaging for those trying to go about the holiday season.

I can understand if there is a concern about whether kids would be bothered, but most children are more perceptive than we think.

There are already plenty of variations in other parts of the world too, a few songs discussing the man do lean in a more mature direction, and, the actual saint who inspired the work done at the top of the world by the man in red has connections to some improper professions.

Krampus is a major part of Christmas folklore in some parts of Europe. In their legends, he is described as a half-goat, half-demon figure who works the same time as Santa and punishes the children who have misbehaved during the year. Is his inclusion damaging to the message of the holiday? Does telling a person about this figure somehow ruin the moment for those celebrating with family, friends and acquaintances?

I do not think so. If anything, it leads to more positivity.

In my younger years when I was a less jaded and better looking individual, I was a witness to girls at my junior high school singing Santa Baby during a seasonal concert. The song implies the singer seeks an intimate physical relationship with the busiest man working Dec. 25 and no one seemed bothered by the fact that a bunch of teenagers were reciting it. I wonder how many of these people would be mad at Haupt?

The bottom line is, Santa is fluid. The man takes inspiration from a religious figure in Turkey who is commonly depicted as having brown skin and is cited by many as the patron saint of prostitutes, other parts of the world add on unique things to his story and he has been made more adult by some people throughout his history as an icon of the holiday. There is nothing wrong with tinkering with his image so long as the wholesome message is still there and kids have the opportunity to meet one of his representatives for a little magic in their young lives.

So, to every Santa deputy out there, be fat, thin, tall, Russian, short, tattooed, a different skin colour or a bit of a joker like Haupt. There is nothing wrong with doing so, and, I think the big guy would be impressed that you went above and beyond in making the season a fun one.

epretzer@postmedia.com

twitter.com/EvanJPretzer

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