The Santa in my hometown is a serious Santa -- the likes of the one in the Macy's parade. He has a real, fuzzy white beard and a real belly (to the dismay of his cardiologist and Mrs. Claus, I'm sure).
He has a temporary wooden cottage resembling a gingerbread house on the main street where kids can come and visit (a nice alternative to visiting Santa beside the weird fountains in the mall!).
He drives a red Honda Element (a very Santa-ish car, if you ask me), and the vanity plates say "HOHOHO."
He wears red year round. One time, I saw him during the "off season" in a red-and-black checkered shirt and carpenter jeans at a city council meeting, looking like he had come straight from carving some wooden toys. It's a year-round job, you know.
I'm sure he entertains happy cries of "Santa" from kids who run into him in July in the grocery store.
I salute this amazing Santa!
The belief in Santa begins to waver in every child. But the lingering spirit of that belief is actually nostalgia in the making, in my opinion. The iconic image of the big guy in red brings a smile to the faces of people of all ages.
What's a parent to do when kids' belief in Santa starts to wane? I say, keep the belief alive as long as it makes sense to! And many experts agree: Believing in Santa is generally a good thing for youngsters.
As the New York Times recently highlighted, scores of men go to school to become the perfect Santa (check out the video!). If that video makes you feel warm and fuzzy, as it did for me, I'd say that Santas the world over are doing a good job. Don't you agree?