Outrage of the Week: Beloved Santa Fired for a Joke

Ho Ho Grrrrr, Readers: If I had a sleigh, I’d be on my way out to the Macy’s in San Fran which just sacked its beloved Santa, despite the fact he’d been doing the gig for 20 years. Some folks even made special trips just to visit the man known as “Santa John.” But then he did something unforgivable! According to this report in sfgate.com, he was booted after an adult couple complained about a joke he’d cracked:

The joke has been in his Santa bag for decades. But after thousands of tellings, the 68-year-old retired caretaker for the elderly finally hit the wrong recipients – apparently an older woman and her husband, who considered it inappropriate.

Toomey – who stays in Oroville most summers and winters in San Francisco while he does the kiddie-on-the-knee gig – said he’d never had complaints before about the joke, which he saves for the occasional grown-up who visits him.

“When I ask the older people who sit on my lap if they’ve been good and they say, ‘Yes,’ I say, ‘Gee, that’s too bad,’ ” Toomey said Monday.

“Then, if they ask why Santa is so jolly, I joke that it’s because I know where all the naughty boys and girls live.”

The kids who sit on his lap, he said, get only his trademark laugh and questions about what toys they want.

Macy’s spokeswoman Betsy Nelson said the store cannot comment because the matter involves personnel.

But several workers used words including “devastated” and “overreaction” to describe their take on Santa John being booted from his throne at Santaland on the seventh floor. They all asked not be named because store policy forbids them from speaking publicly about such matters, but their un-yule-ish gloom was palpable.

“People make a pilgrimage to see him every year, some for as long as 15 years,” said one worker. “Everyone loves him. Everybody’s just heartsick about this.”

I can’t wait to see the movie about this story: “Miracle on Stupid, Paranoid, Everyone’s-a-Predator Street.”  In these touchy times, I guess you can dandle thousands of delighted kids on your knee, but make one piffling joke that some uptight adult finds “inappropriate” and that’s enough to scare the (Santa) suits. Out into the cold you go, Mr. Kringle, and here’s a lump of coal for those two decades.

Personally, I love Macy’s here in New York City. I love its parade, its building, its wild hum of humanity. But this firing out in San Fran brings to mind  the “Miracle on 34th Street” exec who booked Santa into Bellevue.

Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to, so please repeat after me: “I believe that at some point America WILL regain its sanity. It’s silly, but I believe. It’s silly, but I believe…” — L

Santa Claus is coming to town. Oh no!

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84 Responses to Outrage of the Week: Beloved Santa Fired for a Joke

  1. Stephanie - Home with the Kids December 8, 2010 at 3:29 am #

    That’s terrible. The jokes aren’t even that bad, especially since he limited them to adults. One complaint hardly seems like enough to fire him over.

  2. Elizabeth December 8, 2010 at 3:29 am #

    This is a TRAVESTY. Seriously. We should write letters. I’m actually working now, can someone else find the store address?

  3. oncefallendotcom December 8, 2010 at 3:29 am #

    Santa Clause really lives in Las Vegas. How do I know? Because he’s always going “Ho, Ho, Ho!” I guess this means I’m banned from Macy’s in SF. Damn, I was looking to pay exorbitant prices for mechandise, too :.(

  4. oncefallendotcom December 8, 2010 at 3:31 am #

    PS: Any chance he was fired for giving out Pornographer Barbies this year?

  5. octavio December 8, 2010 at 3:32 am #

    hmm. this guy’s had the same job for 20 years… i have heard that mall (store) santas can pull in quite a bit of money ($20,000 for the christmas season)… maybe this was their way of firing what has probably become a very expensive yearly line item on the budget. “santa sexually harrased those people? great, now we can fire him and find someone for minimum wage”

  6. Beth December 8, 2010 at 3:41 am #

    Wait a minute….adults sit on his lap too?

    And aside from that, why does firing have to be the first step when someone makes a complaint? At every place I’ve ever worked at, unless you killed someone, they have to progressively discipline and “build a case” before they can fire someone (verbal warning, performance improvement plan, written warning, etc). How ’bout just saying to Santa John, “don’t tell that joke any more”?

  7. Katy-Anne December 8, 2010 at 3:52 am #

    Sounds like there is a lot of the story we are not being told. Seriously, no company fires someone on the spot like that, especially if someone has been doing that job for 20 years. Someone is leaving out a LOT of facts about this.

    Besides, we don’t need Santa’s anywhere. I can’t stand how we punish kids for lying but think it’s appropriate to lie to them about Santa. It’s not about fun, it’s about telling the truth.

  8. Sky December 8, 2010 at 4:02 am #

    Adults visit Santa and sit on his lap? If anyone is doing something questionable…I don’t think it’s Santa.

    But, oh, geez. Someone’s starting the “helping your children to believe in something magical and legendary for a short time in their life is the same as lying to them” war. The tooth fairy, santa claus, easter bunny, magical monster dust that makes the monsters in the closet go away – they’re going to be warped for life now and think its okay to cheat on their spouses and their taxes!

  9. Katy-Anne December 8, 2010 at 4:04 am #

    So Sky, what if your child was to tell you a magical and legendary story about something they did that was not true? That’s lying, isn’t it? So why don’t we see it as lying when we do it? And yes, it morally harms kids. It shows them that they can’t lie but mommy and daddy can do it because they are adults and when you are an adult you can lie and get away with it.

  10. Nikki December 8, 2010 at 4:14 am #

    Katy-Anne – I’m glad I was brought up in a family where my imagination was fostered.

    I can’t imagine what a sad childhood existence I’d have if everything was “THE TRUTH!”

  11. Lisa December 8, 2010 at 4:16 am #

    Ugh, this is so sad. This is *totally* like the Miracle on 34th Street scene when Santa is accused of being an angry wacko. (I love that movie). This is so typical for San Francisco though, I’m really not surprised (I love in an East bay suburb). They did after all ban happy meals. Talk about taking the happy out of childhood. I’m embarrassed to be near San Francisco, yuck. Maybe Santa’s joke was a little off color (at most) but certainly he wasn’t hurting anyone. Sheesh people, lighten up.

  12. Katy-Anne December 8, 2010 at 4:24 am #

    There is a difference between letting your kids play and imagine cool things, and lying. Playing cowboys and indians is imagination, writing cool stories is imagination, telling kids santa exists is lying.

  13. Kim December 8, 2010 at 4:26 am #

    Oh brother Katy-Anne, you probably hate Disney World, too, huh?

    There is nothing wrong with believing in Santa. I’m 40 years old and I still believe. :) Don’t be a Scrooge. Lighten up.

  14. Nikki December 8, 2010 at 4:26 am #

    Telling nana you love the knickers that she gave you for Christmas is lying too.

  15. gramomster December 8, 2010 at 4:29 am #

    I’ve always approached Santa as the way we see the spirit of magic that helps us see the wonder in the world, especially at Christmas.
    And, with kids who are 18, 20, and 25, one of the things my (very rational and grounded) youngest son requested as we embarked on raising our little grandson, now 4, is, “Please try to preserve the wonder of childhood longer for him. I learned the truth about too many things too young, and I wish I’d been more in my childhood, and not demanding answers. I didn’t need to know why the sky was blue, in the scientific sense, when I was 4, and I didn’t need to let go of the idea of Santa at 5.”
    So, my ridiculously logical, rational, moral, ethical kid not only wasn’t harmed in any way by having Santa, or the Tooth Fairy, he wishes those thinks had existed longer for him, and hopes that his little nephew can hold onto them longer.
    And really… if fictions that perhaps offer lessons, or food for thought, or morals are lying, we shouldn’t let our kids near fiction either. Berenstain Bears are out, Little Critter, Dora, Diego, The Secret Garden, The Chronicles of Narnia… Yup. Only kid bios and history books allowed.
    Really, it’s childhood. Let’s let them have it! They lose it soon enough.

    Which reminds me of the piece I read the other day about how Tangled is the last fairy tale based movie Disney is going to do. Why? Boys apparently ‘aren’t into princess movies’ (don’t tell my grandson…), and girls, according to market research, aren’t into being princesses after the age of 5, at which point they become more concerned with ‘hotness’, making the market for princess movies limited to 3 and 4 year old girls. Yay. Five year olds concerned about their hotness.

    Can we plllleeeeeeaaaassse let them be kids?! Let them have some magic? The real world is plenty challenging for adults. Little ones could really use a space of innocence and wonder. And I would argue there’s nothing wrong with guarding those types of things until 8 or 9 or 10. With the understanding that part of what I mean by innocence and wonder is also exploring their world in an open way, discovering the awesomeness of a creek, and throwing rocks into a lake, and climbing a tree, and watching birds build nests, and making snow angels… and yes, Virginia, believing in Santa Claus and building fairy houses out of twigs and fallen leaves.

  16. Matt L. December 8, 2010 at 4:34 am #

    Can’t say that as a Chicago resident I have the warm Fuzzies for Macys after the Marshall Fields deabcle but come on here! I actually had to think about A) why it was funny then B) why it was offensive and it was a stretch at both.

    Katy-Anne – seriously? I hope you don’t let that keep you from reading your children fiction or telling them other stories to instill hope etc. Although some friends got around this by explaining (in very unspecific terms) that “Santa” embodies the giving spirit that inhabits all people. then continuing on with the rest of the story. Still, nonsense I say. SANTA IS REAL!!!!!!

  17. RobC December 8, 2010 at 4:34 am #

    “So Sky, what if your child was to tell you a magical and legendary story about something they did that was not true? That’s lying, isn’t it?”

    No, it’s called telling a story. Being creative. Using their imagination.

    I hope you don’t read your children story books. Because the stories in those books? NEVER ACTUALLY HAPPENED!! They’re all LIES!!

    Jesus. Lighten up.

  18. Nikki December 8, 2010 at 4:37 am #


    A favourite blog entry of mine.

  19. Matt L. December 8, 2010 at 4:39 am #

    gramomster, maybe public opinion on princesses could be swayed by all the goings ons in London recently?

    My wive used the word princess no less than a hundred times in the planning of our wedding so, I hope somewhere people recognize that’s its not dying, just changing.

  20. gramomster December 8, 2010 at 4:41 am #

    And no, Katy-Anne, not by the logic that you are using, making up cool stories isn’t imagination… it is lying! Those stories are not true! That is a lie! The argument you make is really splitting hairs.
    The characters in my books as a young girl were real to me. I lived in those stories. Roald Dahl was a huge favorite, as was Madeleine L’Engle. The Secret Garden was a book I loved loved loved. I would wonder, sometimes, what Mary would think or say, and the answers I would come up with would often give me strength. I could be as strong as Mary, I could be as curious as Mary. I could be as outspoken… etc.
    My grandmother, though a reader, HATED fiction. Something she had in common with my FIL, who remarked on the set of Lord of the Rings books my youngest got me for Christmas in 2002 as ‘useless tripe you got your mother there, boy. What the hell’s your problem?! And you’re HAPPY about it?! (to me) Garbage!!! Waste of damn time!!! Who the hell needs fairy tale shit! Read about the damn real world!!!” My son was 10 at the time.
    Nice. Sweet man. But damn! He sure didn’t lie to kids!

  21. gramomster December 8, 2010 at 4:52 am #

    @ MattL

    God, I sure hope so!!! I’m pretty sure a lot of little girls still really dig princesses, but they are definitely becoming much more aware of the more tween culture as preschoolers than when I, or my sisters, or even my daughter, were little.
    My grandson’s preschool classmates, some of them, list fave movies as (for the boys) Dark Knight and Ironman, and the girls like High School Musical and Twilight. Okay. The old ones in the class are 5, most are 4. ARE YOU EFFING SERIOUS?! I didn’t even let my kids watch the Tim Burton Batman movies until they were about 9 and 11, maybe even 10 and 12. I know they were 9 and 11 before they watched The Nightmare Before Christmas.
    So, some folks’ views of ‘appropriate’ are really kinda surprising to me. And I LOVE action flicks. I am not a chick flick kind of woman. I saw Ironman 3 times in the theater. But take my preschooler? Oh hell no! He got to go see Bolt.

  22. Matt L. December 8, 2010 at 4:53 am #

    comment thread on Gawker is hysterical (as in funny) http://gawker.com/5708416/santa-claus-fired-by-macys

  23. SKL December 8, 2010 at 5:00 am #

    Wait a second – what’s this about Santa not being real? I never heard this. CNN didn’t report it. You guys have to be pulling my leg.

    Besides, how could they fire a Santa who wasn’t real?

    And also, I want to smack those people for thinking they can ask Santa to let them sit on his lap, and then accuse HIM of being a weirdo!! I stopped feeling OK on Santa’s lap before I got my first training bra. Disgusting. Molest Santa and then get him fired? CALLING ALL REINDEER! CALLING ALL REINDEER!

  24. Matt L. December 8, 2010 at 5:03 am #

    gramomster, I’ve noticed that for all the hovering and helicoptering some parents do they just end up introducing adult elements earlier than what can be considered conventional.

    Maybe that’s why kids grow up faster, the proximity to “adult stuff” is closer for kids these days because, well, their parents are closer and they don’t actively try to avoid it.

  25. Darlene December 8, 2010 at 5:05 am #

    Sorry, I’m usually in agreement with you, but I think this Santa was inappropriate, and I doubt the one comment got him fired, so I’m guessing there have been other complaints and issues.

    Notice how the company can’t say anything but he can? When you only hear the side of the one who got fired it’s usually a very lopsided tale.

  26. Matt L. December 8, 2010 at 5:08 am #

    Darlene – there are likely more details so it should be interesting to see what comes out…

  27. gramomster December 8, 2010 at 5:11 am #

    Matt L,
    Those comments ARE hysterical! Thanks for the link. And yeah, the proximity thing and helicoptering. You are probably onto something there.

  28. Anna December 8, 2010 at 5:14 am #

    People get upset because you tell your kids that there’s a Santa…

    COME ON!!!

    Will somebody please enlighten me to what the difference between the stories of Santa and the stories about a creature in the skies that sees, hears and knows everything is…..
    -cause they seem pretty encredible both of them…
    I know which story I think is the better….

  29. Grego December 8, 2010 at 5:16 am #

    Lenore, thanks for this post. I work less than five blocks from this Macy’s, and plan to go in to let the store manager know that I won’t be buying anything from them this holiday season. I don’t believe in supporting people who pander to the least common denominator–in this case those who can’t take the most mild of jokes.

    The most ironic part of the affair is that, taken literally, this mall Santa has said nothing inappropriate. The implication has to be in the mind of the listener, as well as the speaker, in order for anything sexual to be gleaned from the joke. (I am assuming the offendee thought it was a sexual comment, since the only word Santa reportedly used was “naughty”.)

    P.S.: If you thought I was making a sexual joke by using the word “affair” in the preceding paragraph, you may or may not be right…

  30. SKL December 8, 2010 at 5:18 am #

    About the kids seeing “adult” violent and sexually-charged stuff. I don’t let my kids, not because I want to keep them away from “real adult life,” but because I want them to have more maturity before they are presented with “totally fake, exaggerated, and sensationalized adult (and teen / tween)nonsense.”

    We enjoy classic movies such as The Sound of Music, which have plenty of grown-up themes in them (love, war, and everything in-between), but which I can discuss in a sane manner.

  31. EricS December 8, 2010 at 5:23 am #

    Unfortunately, just another company covering their own ass because a couple of people got “offended” by the joke and made a stink about it. Holier than thou crap again. Ruin a man’s life, and indirectly those that have been coming to see him for years. It’s a joke people, a joke that he’s said ever year he’s done this gig. Until now, know one has complained. So I take that as “it’s not the man”. It’s the people complaining. How often do we hear and talk about this, how a small group of people always ruins it for the majority. I hope they find a lump of coal in their stockings, and karma bites them in the ass this christmas. Including the people at Macey’s that deemed it necessary to fire him.

    @Katey Ann: Sounds like you have lingering Santa issues. Under the definition of lying, telling a child “Santa exists” is lying to them. That I can agree with. But in this context, it’s not about the lie, it’s about what telling the truth to a young child can do to them. If you asked your husband or boyfriend what you look like in the new pair of jeans you bought and if you didn’t look good in it, say because you a little bottom heavy (not saying you are, but lets just say that for arguments sake), would you really want to hear it? Or would you rather them pamper it a little bit so that you can keep your self respect, and feel better about the purchase. After all you bought the jeans for a reason.

    The We all lie. Some lie for gain, some lie to protect. Imagination is not lying. And if a child wants to believe in Santa, let him/her. When they get older, they will eventually realize (without you telling them) that Santa isn’t real. So why ruin a part of many children’s lives growing up, by bursting their imagination? Some times, lying is acceptable. Letting a child continue to believe Santa exists for a little while longer isn’t wrong. And NO, children don’t learn that it’s ok for parents to lie, and that they get away with it. We all know as adults that isn’t true at all. If they as children think that lying is ok, they will certainly have a rude awakening as they get older and find out for themselves that it isn’t. They will also learn, as we did, that sometimes telling a “white lie” is ok in certain situations.

    But, if people do take offense to lying to children, maybe then you should tell them the whole truth about life, right from the get go. That’ll be a shock to their system. Especially if it puts them into the Rudolph syndrome. And putting a child through that is just mean.

  32. Jules December 8, 2010 at 5:24 am #

    @Katy-Anne: while believing in Santa itself isn’t necessarily “Free-Range”, stepping up on your soap box on a forum and telling parents that their parenting is askew and that they are lying to their kids by allowing them to believe in magic goes against the foundation of the philosophy. If you don’t feel comfortable making Santa real in your home, that’s your business, but please don’t ruin it for the rest of us, and don’t let your kids, either. There’s no need to judge the rest of us.

    My parents have a LOT of faults. They were certainly not the greatest parents for a lot of reasons, but one thing I am happy they did was let me believe in Santa for as long as I did. I always believed in magic as a child and it didn’t hurt me one bit. I never was mad at my parents when I found out Santa was not real, but I was a bit miffed at the older kids who ruined it for me. I would have been happy believing forever. And I think the love I have from Christmas now comes from that.

  33. Donna December 8, 2010 at 5:29 am #

    @ gramomster

    My daughter is also in prek. She is the second oldest in the class and many of her classmates like High School Musical, Hannah Montana, Ironman. I’ve always failed to see how a kid who has yet to attend real school can possibly relate to in shows and movies about high school. Luckily my little one is still fine with Dora and Diego.

    I do wonder if these kids really watch these things. My daughter knows about Hannah Montana because her classmates do and might even claim to watch it because her friends are saying it. I kinda wonder if some of this isn’t a case of one leader-type kid actually liking Hannah Montana for some reason (my little bro was strangely obsessed with Little Shop of Horrors at 3 although the rest of his tv viewing was normal toddler fare) and the rest of the kids just jumping on the bandwagon and either watching, but not really enjoying, or claiming to watch when they don’t.

  34. Donna December 8, 2010 at 5:36 am #

    @ Katy – I am so not mad at my parents for telling that there was a Santa Claus. I certainly did not grow up to believe that adults are liars. I am however still to this day pissed off at my aunt who told me that Santa Claus didn’t exist when I was 7. She entered my least favorite relative category that day and never left. Believing in Santa Claus made Christmas magical. Not believing in Santa Claus made it just about getting cool presents.

  35. gramomster December 8, 2010 at 5:52 am #

    @ SKL
    Yeah, that’s about my reasoning too. That stuff isn’t ‘real adult life’ anymore than ‘Friends’ is how young, unemployed people experience life in New York City.
    Right now, really, I just enjoy the heck out of the Pixar movies, not the least reason of which is the simply stunning animation. I find it just awe-inspiring and beautiful. Okay, that probably has plenty to do with my total lack of understanding of how any of that is possible, so to me it is completely magic.
    And man, I totally loved The Sound of Music at around 7!

  36. msmama December 8, 2010 at 5:54 am #

    I took my son to see Santa today and this one literally didn’t speak to us (I had to be in the picture, too. 2 year old wasn’t into Santa this year).

    I remember actually having conversations with Santa when I was a kid, he actually ASKED me what I wanted. This Santa – nothing.

    Apaprently it’s just plop the kid on the knee, take a picture and then done.

    Anyway, I have to wonder how much of our experience was colored by the situation in SF and the increasingly paranoid parents out there (who apparently see pedophile everywhere, except some strange guy at the mall) .

  37. enyawface December 8, 2010 at 5:56 am #

    America……. Sanity……. since when?

  38. enyawface December 8, 2010 at 6:13 am #

    msmama , nope actually, I have seen in recent years were your kid can not even sit on Santa’s lap, as policy because, “Even though we carefully screen each applicant, you can’t be too cautious in protecting children from a possible predator.” So the child is either perched on a chair next to Santa, on top of a stuffed reindeer, or stand beside Santa who is not allowed to touch.

  39. kimelah December 8, 2010 at 6:15 am #

    When my kids were young, I never told them about the whole “santa lives in the north pole and shimmies down chimneys/through locked doors to deliver gifts to ALL the kids of the world in ONE night”. I just said that WE put santa’s name on some gifts to commemorate the real St Nicholas (dead now) who did do something similar in his town, ie: giving gifts to poor children.
    I’m not sure the exact story behind Santa Claus, but saying we do it to remember a nice old man who did it in the past seemed like a good idea at the time.

  40. Matt December 8, 2010 at 6:31 am #

    I think the adults who sat on Santa’s lap should be arrested. Clearly potential perverts in the making, and also criminally devoid of a sense of humor.

  41. Katy-Anne December 8, 2010 at 6:46 am #

    Eric, if I looked bad in a pair of jeans, I’d want my husband to tell me. I’ve always been like that. I can’t stand it when people tell me something they don’t mean. My dad used to tell me I looked “good” in something I tried on, then would yell at me later for buying it because I “should have known he hated it” and that he was “just pampering your ego”. Anyway, just answering your question. No, I do not like people lying to me for any reason. My friends know that and they’ll tell me if they think I look awful in something.

    But I’m also from a culture that tends to be a little more forward with what they really think that people in the USA. Until I got here I had no idea how much people could lie under the guise of sugarcoating and that people think that it is socially acceptable. It blows my mind. Not sure if it’s all bad, but I’d rather be told the truth.

    But I am sure there is a LOT more to this Santa story than we are being told. NOBODY gets fired over one incident, unless it’s HUGE. I don’t have any patience for this particular story.

    Hope all of your kids have fun this year even with Santa if you all have him. I do actually know some kids that have an utter lack of respect for their parents because “they told me not to lie and then told me Santa was real”. I honestly hope none of your kids do that for you. I’m all for giving kids a good time, just personally this isn’t the way I’m going to do it. Mine are going to open their presents knowing who they came from. And I’m sure they’ll still play with them the same way. :) After all, they did last year.

  42. Gina December 8, 2010 at 7:13 am #

    Since when can an adult not hear a joke that is slightly off-color (in a way that is easily ignored, no less!) when a child is not in ear shot?

    I hope these same stick-in-the-muds are petitioning their local theaters to have all non-G rated movies halted immediately. And ensure that cable carries nothing but Disney.

  43. Wilma December 8, 2010 at 7:26 am #

    I take my kids to our local restaurant, where “Santa Bill” is the only Santa they will talk to. We actually go for a brunch, with all of our extended family, and Santa Bill makes very funny (sometimes dirty) jokes with the adults and talks to the little ones by walking around the room, giving them candy canes and stuffed animals. He knows them all by name. He is a wonderful, magical man.
    Do my kids believe in the magic of Christmas? Hell, yeah. They are getting older (oldest is 9) but still know that the magic of Christmas is not about a single “belief” but more about doing nice deeds for others and having a generous spirit- it is better to give than receive.
    I highly doubt that when they discover it’s mom and dad they will hold a grudge. Rather, they will help keep the momentum going with their younger siblings because it’s fun.

    And yes, I will be buying my son a sling shot this year.

  44. Jennifer December 8, 2010 at 7:36 am #

    I was one of those kids who felt betrayed and furious when I learned Santa wasn’t real. It really did damage my trust in adults. I was also very resentful at adults’ requests to not tell the truth to younger children. However, many of my friends weren’t bothered in the slightest when they found out the truth, and many of them were happy to keep the story going for younger kids. So I guess it really depends on the kid.

    This story does make me wonder if there’s more to it than we know. If not, it seems pretty appalling.

  45. Cheryl W December 8, 2010 at 7:55 am #

    Shame on those adults for sitting on a grown man’s lap! And dirty minds on top of it all! And really, if that is all he said, who cares, even if he said it to other adults. Maybe Macy’s should have had a sign that said no adults on Santa’s lap?

    I am thankful for the book “The Polar Express” as it explained to my kids why their high functioning autistic friend told them that Santa didn’t exist when they really know what is going on. (I mean, come on – my three year old had at least a few more years to believe!)

    Any kid who uses the excuse of Santa to disrespect their parents has a lot more issues than just Santa.

  46. EricS December 8, 2010 at 8:08 am #

    @Katey Ann: I can respect that. It’s not very often you meet someone who’s has enough confidence i themselves that they can take constructive criticism without getting all bent out of shape. Props to you. :-) Many people I know, mostly women, if you are too honest with them they take offense. I’ve even been told by women, that I shouldn’t always be so up front. Even though some women know you aren’t telling the truth, they know it’s because you do not want to hurt their feelings, and they prefer that. I still try to be as honest as possible though. I don’t like giving people false hope or security. Actually, thinking about it, I don’t know any women that wants to be told they look “a little big” in the dress or jeans. lol

    In regards to the belief in Santa, we don’t tell our kids that he doesn’t exist, but we also don’t encourage to believe that he does. Right now, they kind of believe he does because their friends talk about it. ie. “Santa is getting me this”, “Santa is getting me that”, etc… They’ve never asked who Santa is, or if he’s for real. They have asked us “can you ask Santa to get me…”. And when they do get that present, we don’t mention “look what Santa got you”. We just let them enjoy their gift. I’m sure at some point they will ask, then that’s when we’ll explain the whole story. Till then, we’ll just let them enjoy being kids.

    I don’t think there is more to the story, considering many cases of big companies not wanting bad publicity (especially around xmas). Perhaps the offended older couple were people of influence. In working the club industry for many years, I’ve seen staff get fired because a rich, influential client took offense because their asses weren’t being kissed, and that the disrespected employee stood up for themselves. In certain companies minds (especially the big ones), one person isn’t worth the bad press, and possible loss of business. It’s sad, but it’s the reality of life.

  47. Kim December 8, 2010 at 8:11 am #

    I have a picture of my grandma sitting on Santa’s lap in 1984. It was her last Christmas, she died the following summer. It’s a great picture. :) She sat on his lap because it was a cute thing to do. Nothing weird about it.

  48. Larry Harrison December 8, 2010 at 8:15 am #

    This reminds me a lot of those companies that won’t say “Merry Christmas” but instead say “Happy Holidays,” or that call their Christmas parties “Holiday Parties” or whatever–and they may even correct you for calling it a Christmas party–because they don’t want to offend the 0.000005% of people who don’t believe in Christmas. (And yes Lenore, I know that you’re, apparently, Jewish, and you know I mean no offense to you in anyway whatsoever.)

    I’m tired of the lowest-common-denominator being appeased like this.

    This Santa has nothing to apologize for. Macy’s does, and also so do the whiners who complained like something crawled up their rear posterior and died there.


  49. Renee Aste December 8, 2010 at 9:02 am #

    I’m pretty conservative, but if you’re an adult who wants to sit on Santa’s lap… yeah, you asking for a little naughty joke.

    As for the spirit of Christmas, the Feast of Saint Nicholas was yesterday. When I was 5/6 I learned of the ‘real Saint Nick’. It really help understand where many of the traditions came from, and Saint Nicholas did many good needs. It’s a nice tradition to understand we should become Santas ourselves to help out with charity. Toys are great for small kids, and nothing wrong with presents but whether it be children in foster care or an individual in a nursing home it’s lots of joy to secretly give.

  50. Jill December 8, 2010 at 9:25 am #

    I don’t know. I think I would be kind of skeeved by Santa saying those things to me! And that has nothing to do with my kids or thinking everyone is a pedophile. I don’t think he should have been fired, but I would be uncomfortable with a man, other than my husband, making jokes in that manner.

  51. Timkenwest December 8, 2010 at 9:33 am #

    If the facts actually are as presented, then I agree that this was yet another example of over-the-top reaction to a non-issue.

    But, as an employer, i have terminated employees and then chosen not to discuss the reasons why with anyone else afterwards. I know what it’s like to have former employees go around telling out-to-lunch stories about how they were done so wrong. Not saying that that is the case with Santa John, but I agree with others that there’s probably a lot more to this story. I sure hope so, because otherwise the level of idiocy at work here is more than I can take.

  52. Decemberbaby December 8, 2010 at 10:36 am #

    LRH – to run with your tangent, as a Jewish woman I’m actually more offended by terms like “holiday tree” or “holiday party”. My wintertime holiday, which incidentally will be over in 48 hours and therefore really doesn’t coincide with Christmas this year, does NOT involve a tree of any kind, nor do I want it to. And the “holiday” decorations at the “holiday” party? Well, candycanes, poinsettas, and mistletoe do not feature in any Chanukkah customs anywhere. I’d much rather be invited to a Christmas party than be pandered to by people who think that my holiday is just a blue-and-silver version of their own red-and-green.

  53. bmj2k December 8, 2010 at 11:01 am #

    Let us look at what he said:

    1- “When I ask the older people who sit on my lap if they’ve been good and they say, ‘Yes,’ I say, ‘Gee, that’s too bad,’ ”

    That may be the oldest Monty Python-type “nudge nudge wink wink” joke on record.

    2- “Then, if they ask why Santa is so jolly, I joke that it’s because I know where all the naughty boys and girls live.”

    Did the adults really believe that this guy had all those kids’ addresses? That is totally implausible to the extreme. Did the company think so?

    If this guy doesn’t sue he’s nuts, especially as the company will settle in his favor rather than risk all the bad PR this will generate.

  54. Cedar December 8, 2010 at 11:44 am #

    We’ve been to that Macy’s! There weren’t any adults in line with us, but there were several dogs. I wonder if they got any special jokes? I agree that there may be more going on behind the scenes than we realize, but could also easily imagine some hyper-sensitive zero-tolerance policy for anything possibly approaching sexual harassment. I wonder what the higher-ups at Macy’s HQ think? Talk about terrible PR. And to those who say that an adult might be offended by the joke: from the reports it sounded like these were adults who showed up to see him, not some parent standing there with a kid. In my eyes, if you’re an adult going to sit in a strange Santa’s lap, then you set yourself for a PG-13 joke. If anything, Santa here is the one who could be complaining about possibly inappropriate behavior, not the people who complained. If you’re an adult and show up to sit on Santa’s lap, it takes a lot of nerve to in turn be offended by these sorts of mild jokes.

    And, as an aside, the line at that Macy’s was really, really long, and I think adults — or people with dogs — who show up to see Santa during prime kid hours are annoying.

  55. Matt December 8, 2010 at 11:45 am #

    props to you Decemberbaby! I was at Caribou before thanksgiving and the barista said: “Have a happy holiday” this is rediculous as Thanksgiving is a secular event!

  56. Globe trottin' mama December 8, 2010 at 12:16 pm #

    first joke: funny
    second joke: strange

  57. SKL December 8, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

    Even if the second joke was strange, so what? Why should an adult who chose to sit on Santa’s lap be entitled to be shielded from strange or bad jokes? Is there some kind of implied warranty that a mall Santa is going to keep to a child-friendly script even when there are no children around?

  58. SgtMom December 8, 2010 at 5:56 pm #

    I don’t know about California, but I live in an “at will” state, and you most certainly CAN be fired for no reason at all.

    I was fired after a heavy piece of furniture I was loading into a customer’s car fell on my foot. The store owner began making comments that I “faked” my injury ( a bone bruise that took months to heal). I was called into the office a week after it happened and told “two customers said you yelled at them yesterday, you’re fired”.

    It was absolutely perfectly legal. Trust me, I called several attorneys.

    I DID get unemployment insurance after I was able to show excellent performance reports and no disiplinary lettters prior. I was also compensated back pay for the months I worked through my lunch hour, worked over time and through my breaks without pay. Mentioning I was paid $15.00 while my replacement was paid $8.00 an hour probably didn’t hurt my cause either.

    In Palm Springs years ago there was a piano bar called The Nest. The piano man was utterly hilarious. He would sing perfectly innocent songs like ” She’ll be comin’ ’round the mountain” and with a few vocal inflections and his facial expressions he could make the song seem absolutely obscene. Two business men sharing a drink would be serenaded with ” I left My Heart In San Francisco” with lots of emphatic eye rolling, implying they were gay. It was funny until YOU were the one caught in his cross hairs.

    This Santa’s joke didn’t even rise to first grade playground naughty.

  59. Jules December 8, 2010 at 8:30 pm #

    You know, this discussion takes me back to the company I used to work for…
    I’d say the staff was pretty well split, half Jewish and half Christian. In December, we’d have a Christmas tree and an electric Menorah set up in the lobby. But even the owner called our drunken night on the town the “Christmas party”, and we would have a big celebration on Christmas eve in the office as well. They’d call a half day, the owner would put on a Santa hat and give out the bonus envelopes, as well as the secret Santa gifts. He’d ask the young ladies “Alright, who wants to sit on Santa’s lap?” No one called HR. No one was being harassed. We’d even make jokes back by pushing each other like we were fighting for lap space.
    But, you know, this was more than a decade ago. Not as p.c. back then. The Jewish staff wasn’t offended by any of the Christmas goings on; they were happy to let us celebrate our way, because in the fall, we worked on a skeleton crew and pulled it all together so they could take time off for their holidays. The owner was our friend; we knew his family, including his wife, and the company was a family. You could say things like “My boss is like family; he’s the dirty uncle”, and it didn’t mean that he was a pedophile, it was actually FUNNY.

    Lenore, someone brought up in one of the threads how you must be pulling your hair out with this gig. I just read these stories and I’m getting frustrated with it all! I can’t imagine having to look for these stories, weed through them all, write about how you feel on the subject, and follow up. I get sad just thinking about how the world used to be! People are right in a way. The world is a different place. It’s just that they’re the ones making it that way.

  60. Edward December 8, 2010 at 8:45 pm #

    Why aren’t the names of the offended couple being published? What are they trying to hide? Or hide from?

  61. Myriam December 8, 2010 at 8:47 pm #

    Don’t you just love the prissy, purse-lipped word “inappropriate”.

  62. Heather December 8, 2010 at 9:56 pm #

    How ridiculous. I just went to http://www.macysinc.com/contact/general.aspx and sent them a comment about how stupid I think this is. I live in Chicago, where Macy’s isn’t very popular anyway, having bought and killed Marshall Fields. I told them I don’t intend to shop at their store any time soon. I encourage everyone to take a moment to send them a note. Maybe they’ll get the hint.

  63. HappyNat December 8, 2010 at 10:12 pm #

    I usually agree with your take on things and I hate the overly PC society we live in, but I disagree about the Christmas/Holiday thing. I don’t see why saying Happy Holidays offends people, because it is a Holiday. I’m so tired of the “War on Christmas” and “Keep Christ in Christmas” people/e-mail/bumper stickers that act so persecuted. If I say Holiday why is that any skin off your back? It is a holiday after all and I don’t see why it’s a big deal either way.

    I am not Christian, but we celebrate Christmas at our house, it is a completely secular holiday in almost all respects, especially if you don’t go to a Xmas eve service. However, I don’t see the problem with business using the term Holiday instead of Christmas. If they want to be more inclusive because they think it will help their bottom line, what’s the problem?

    And by the way, using Xmas is not an attack on Christmas, that’s one of my “favorite” myths of the War on Christmas folks.

  64. Laura December 8, 2010 at 10:24 pm #

    I hate to stir this particular pot, because I’m likely to offend more than one person, and for that, I apologize in advance. But…

    Katy, I sure hope that you’re not religious. Because given your stance on Santa, the same argument could be made about God. You consider us telling our children that there is a Santa “a lie”, because “of course” there’s no Santa – where’s the proof? Flying reindeer? North Pole? Elves?

    Well… God? Really? Where’s the proof? 5 loaves of bread to feed 5000 people? Walking on water? Angels? Heaven – a kingdom in the sky?

    It all comes down to what you choose to believe, doesn’t it? In my house, we believe in God. And we believe in Santa. It’s not about being literal, it’s about being able to cast yourself OUT of yourself, and believing in something, even though there’s no proof of its existence. I’ve had plenty of things happen in my life that would cause me to ‘go off’ God, but I never have. And I’m a 40 year old woman who absolutely believes in the magic of Christmas – including Santa Claus.

    Two quotes to consider, both from “The Santa Claus”, which for us, is a classic:

    “Seeing isn’t believing: believing is seeing. Kids don’t have to see this place (the North Pole) to know that it’s here – they just know.”

    “Children hold the spirit of Christmas in their heart.”

    Christmas is about magic. Go back to the Christian roots of it – it’s about a child who was born to save the world. Go back to the Pagan roots – it’s about new life in the darkest time of the year. Even Hanukkah has that theme, with the story of a day’s worth of oil that lasted an amazing 8 days. What a tragic childhood that doesn’t have a little bit of that magic.

  65. Laura December 8, 2010 at 10:39 pm #

    HappyNat, the problem with the whole ‘Happy Holidays’ thing is not the fact that a regular person is wishing me a ‘Happy Holiday’ as opposed to a ‘Merry Christmas’. If you and I were to meet on the street, and you said Happy Holidays to me, I would likely respond in kind.

    The problem that we “Merry Christmas” people have is the hypocrisy of it all. Stores have no problem with offering shelves and shelves of Christmas Trees, Santas, Elves, Santa hats, reindeer antlers, ornaments, Christmas cards, even Manger/Nativity scenes. But then they “don’t want to offend people” so they require that their cashiers say “Happy Holidays” as they’re ringing up that Nativity Scene. Their flyers call it a “Holiday Sale” but it starts on Dec. 20 and ends on Dec. 24 – the last shopping day…before CHRISTMAS.

    We’re offended by towns who have no problem making money on Christmas, but refuse to call it that. Witness Philadelphia, a town that, just last week, was embroiled in controversy when someone said that they were “offended” by their traditional German Town “Christmas Village”. So they took “Christmas” off of the sign. Kept all the Christmas offerings, vendors, theme, etc., but removed the word “Christmas” because it was “offensive.” The kicker? The “village” is based on a German Tradition which has vendors setting up shop on a particular street starting on the first day of Advent (hello! Christmas!) and ending on CHRISTMAS Eve. But they can’t *say* that it’s Christmas, because that would be “offensive”. Funny, nobody “offended” by Ramadan, Hanukkah, or any other religious tradition.

    Here’s the Philly story: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2010/12/philadelphias_christmas_villag.html

    And that’s why we have such a problem with “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. That’s why many call it a “War on Christmas”.

  66. SKL December 8, 2010 at 10:40 pm #

    I don’t care of some people don’t want to teach their own kids about Santa – or anything else, for that matter. Frankly I think a lot of the “PC” and “progressive” stuff that people teach kids is BS, and more potentially damaging than believing in Santa Claus. But what others do is not my business (unless they solicit my opinion or start a fight). And what I do is not their business. I don’t understand why some people think it’s appropriate to slam others for this particular choice (letting kids believe in Santa).

    As for “Happy Holidays,” I go back and forth. It really depends on the spirit in which it is said. If it’s said with a heartfelt emphasis on the “happy,” then I appreciate it. If it’s said as in, “I don’t give a damn what holiday you celebrate or don’t celebrate,” I’d rather not hear it. “Have a nice day” will do just as well, or better. As for me, I’ll say “Merry Christmas” when it’s close to Christmas, and “Enjoy your __ celebration” to the extent I know they celebrate something else. (I don’t see why non-Christians should not be merry at Christmas).

  67. su N December 9, 2010 at 12:20 am #

    Santa should just cross the street and get a job at Macy’s competition. Guess where his loyal following will shop? Heck, I’d visit that Santa just on principal alone.

    P.S. Why would you want to destroy the magic of Santa? That’s just mean.

  68. Nicola December 9, 2010 at 12:32 am #

    Wrote Macy’s. I hope you all do as well. Thank you Heather, for providing the link.

  69. oncefallendotcom December 9, 2010 at 1:01 am #

    I had to make one more comment because the comment counter ended at “69” and we can’t have that kind of perversion here!

    To all those who said Santa’s not real. Anyone ever heard of St. Nicholas? He was at the Council of Nicene and helped create the Nicene Creed, which, if you’re Catholic, you have recited at some point in your life. By the way, the name “Santa Claus” was derived from the German pronunciation of Saint Nicholas.

  70. Stephanie - Home with the Kids December 9, 2010 at 1:07 am #

    With regards to “Happy Holidays” vs. “Merry Christmas,” I’d just like to see people take it in the spirit it’s given. Relax! Is it really that big a deal whether someone wishes you a Merry Christmas when you celebrate another holiday? I’d rather see people take what others say as kind wishes than get snippety about which holiday is the right one.

    As for stores doing it, they’re trying to respect more of their customers who don’t celebrate Christmas, which is far more than 0.000005%, LRH. So far as I’m concerned, “Happy Holidays” can include New Year’s, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, or whatever other holiday you celebrate. Just enjoy whatever your reason for the season is.

  71. pentamom December 9, 2010 at 1:16 am #

    I don’t have a problem with saying Happy Holidays — I have a problem with employers refusing to allow their employees to say “Merry Christmas.” It might be “respecting the customers” in a certain way — though I can’t understand what’s disrespectful about wishing someone happiness, even if it’s concerning a holiday they don’t celebrate. If I as a Christian were to be shopping in a Jewish area and someone wished me a Happy Hanukkah, I’d not be offended, I’d be appreciative of the good wishes. But it’s disrespecting the employees to refuse to allow them to give a friendly greeting as they see fit. To the extent that that is what’s happening, that’s what I find objectionable.

  72. RobC December 9, 2010 at 1:35 am #

    “This reminds me a lot of those companies that won’t say “Merry Christmas” but instead say “Happy Holidays,” or that call their Christmas parties “Holiday Parties” or whatever…”

    Damn them for being inclusive and acknowledging other cultures!

    There’s other stuff going on at this time of the year besides Christmas. Deal with it.

  73. Myra December 9, 2010 at 2:06 am #

    Too bad a couple of people are allowed to ruin the fun for others. Many people wonder if he could be fired for a first offense. I say yes, people do get fired for one mistake, unfortunately. He might have some legal recourse but who knows.

    As for using Christmas references, once again a few are allowed to dictate what the many are allowed to enjoy or not. Political correctness taken to the extreme, we see it all the time these days and it is a sad trend. It Next thing you know someone of British ancestry will take offense at the 4th of July celebrations. When is enough, enough? Most Christmas traditions have nothing to do with Christ or with Santa either for that matter! Why can’t people just be happy that we have a magical time that makes children happy and takes away the winter doldrums for a brief time in December.

    As for @Katy-Ann,
    I hope you don’t play Scrooge everywhere and ruin Christmas for people. You can believe or not as you see fit but for your own sake, keep it within your own family. You also seem to contradict yourself in a couple areas. You describe an emotionally abusive father, basically, saying he likes something and then yelling at you for believing him but then you say you come “from a culture that tends to be a little more forward with what they really think that people in the USA. Until I got here I had no idea how much people could lie under the guise of sugarcoating and that people think that it is socially acceptable.” You also speak of your children in a future tense making it seem that you don’t actually have any but then you say something about them enjoying their toys “last year”.

    I think Laura said it very well, there are a lot of beliefs people have that are not based on any provable science. Do you go around and put down everyone’s beliefs? I hope not.

    There are a few individuals who may have bad feelings about being “lied to” about Santa but they are rare. Most people appreciate the magical! Whether it’s Christmas or just a good story. My oldest son still tells people how much he appreciates that I helped him keep believing in Santa even when his friends started to be skeptical. I didn’t tell lies I just told my kids about a Christmas when I was 5 and thought I saw Santa. It’s a true story, but magical! I tell my grandkids the story now. I’ll always believe in the magic of this time of year. That doesn’t make me a liar.

  74. SKL December 9, 2010 at 3:36 am #

    Whenever I told my mom about my friends trying to talk me out of belief in Santa, my mom would say, “well, I guess Santa won’t be leaving them any presents this year.” Do you think I ever told my parents when I stopped believing?

    My parents had so much fun with the Santa thing, I couldn’t burst their bubble! Only one of my 5 siblings was ticked off when she found out. She was on the older side (about 8) and rather emotional anyway. I remember her trying to tell our baby brother about the Big Lie and advise him not to believe. He ended up believing until he was 9 (or so he pretended).

    This year my kids (3 and 4) saw Santa and their eyes just lit up like anything. What a rotten mother I am! But, I think they will be OK.

  75. SKL December 9, 2010 at 3:37 am #

    I wish that whenever someone typed “8 )” they didn’t end up with a smiley “8).”

  76. SKL December 9, 2010 at 3:38 am #

    Ha, wouldn’t you know, it didn’t work the last time. (Feel free to delete these last apparently incoherent comments.) 8)

  77. gramomster December 9, 2010 at 10:00 am #

    @HappyNat and @Laura
    Thank you for putting it so well, from both the non-Christian and Christian perspectives. We are the former, and actually incorporate some of the pagan ideas you mention, Laura, just to keep it, ya’ know, real. The lights? They are luring the sun back, and reminding us of light and warmth to come. Santa? He reminds us to give selflessly, and acknowledge the kindness of others. And, hey! Fer reaalz, ya’ll! My husband is an educator. We’ve got 2 entire weeks off together in the middle of the winter, with a paycheck coming in! We get to stay in jammies, hang out and watch a movie, have leisurely breakfasts… yes, Christmas time is magical indeed!

  78. Michelle December 9, 2010 at 10:44 am #

    Santa is, in fact, real. Whether you believe in God or not, whether you celebrate Christmas as Jesus’ birthday or not, the man Santa is modeled after did, in fact, exist: http://www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=38.

  79. Uly December 10, 2010 at 12:36 am #

    Yes, Michelle, the man they modeled Santa after really did exist.

    I think, as we’re all adults here, we can agree, however, that he didn’t really live on the North Pole or fly around in a sleigh piloted by reindeer.

    My family, we don’t lie and say Santa is literally real (and it *is* a lie, although a harmless one for most families), but we do wink a lot and pretend. It’s like the best of both worlds – we have the fun without the dishonesty!

    (We did have a firm talk with both nieces, though, that they are NOT ALLOWED to spill the beans to any friends who do believe. It’s simply not very nice.)

    It’s probably a good thing this was the route all the grown-ups went with. The older niece turned out to be one of those kids who hates being tricked or lied to, hates feeling like the butt of the joke. She’s working on it, but it’s pretty much a sure thing that if she’d found out in the “normal” way her Christmas that year would have been RUINED, and even odds that ours would’ve been too as she felt so “betrayed” and we’re so “mean”, etc. etc. etc.

    And we have our fun anyway. You can be honest and still have fun :)

    With that said, I don’t actually care if you do the whole song-and-dance with your own kids. The one thing that really upsets me about this time of year, and it has nothing to do with individual families, is that all the media is all about how Santa is LITERALLY real and how you’re BAD if you don’t believe, etc. etc. etc. I’d rather see the occasional movie, or book, or TV show with an ambiguous ending – did Santa show up, or was it somebody else? Gosh, we don’t know!

  80. Uly December 10, 2010 at 12:39 am #

    On another note, SKL and anybody else – I won’t slam you for telling your kids Santa is literally real if you won’t tell me that we’re taking the fun out of the holiday, depriving the niecelings of magic, ruining Christmas, or otherwise being big meanie-heads.

    (And I can’t believe I’m so late to the Santa debate! Darn it, I wait all year for the Santa argument, and then I’m late to it!)

  81. SKL December 10, 2010 at 1:18 am #

    Uly, I am sure you do all you can to have happy nieces. I don’t disagree that the season (or any season) can be a blast without “belief in Santa.” And I frankly think it would be hard to “force” the Santa thing if the adults really weren’t into it. I have many non-Christian friends (from various countries) and they each do whatever feels right to them. Some do Santa, some don’t. It’s whatever they feel comfortable with. But the only folks I know who won’t do “any” festivities at this time of year are Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    Nevertheless, I must say that the magic in little kids’ eyes during those few years when they “really believe” is undeniable. Like many other minor risks we take as parents, to me, it’s worth the risk that one of my kids will be ticked off when she discovers the “truth.”

  82. Uly December 10, 2010 at 1:33 am #

    Like many other minor risks we take as parents, to me, it’s worth the risk that one of my kids will be ticked off when she discovers the “truth.”

    Fair enough : )


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