[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/mallsanta_9838.jpg]]

Usually occurring during the Christmas-themed episode, a male character gets a job at TheMall (or a department store in older works) as SantaClaus, either for a part-time job or as a last-minute substitute. HilarityEnsues. We invariably see a series of kids on his lap doing things like questioning his authenticity as the "real" SantaClaus, attempting to pull off his beard, asking for extravagant or impossible gifts, or, in the most crass of {{Sit Com}}s, urinating on him out of fear. A common joke has the MallSanta promising to deliver an outrageous gift come Christmas, much to the dismay of the kid's parents.

If the character playing the Mall Santa is a cynical JadedWashout[=/=]DeadpanSnarker type, he may comment on the materialistic behavior of the kids or the commercialism of Christmas.

Added points if the Mall Santa is drunk.

The female equivalent is being stuck in a SexySantaDress and/or hideous [[ChristmasElves "helper elf"]] outfit.

In more outlandish shows with SpeculativeFiction or MundaneFantastic premises, the character may be [[SavingChristmas the real deal]] [[RealAfterAll after all]].

Occasionally one encounters a ''Jewish'' mall Santa.
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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Advertising ]]

* The Capital One ad with the inversion of the beard pull trope-the kid on Santa's lap is the kid who's one of the Vikings in the commercial. He has a beard, despite the fact he's too young to, and Santa pulls it, which makes the kid say 'ouch'.

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[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* In issue #378 of ''ComicBook/IncredibleHulk'' (by Creator/PeterDavid), Rhino (a supervillain) becomes a Mall Santa. He gives this advice to kids: "Give! Give! Give! You want everything handed to you! Why not do what I do? Take stuff! See it? Want it? Take it!"
* ''[[Franchise/ArchieComics Archie]]'' comics have used this plot in many a Christmas themed storyline.
** Archie gets this job himself a lot. One year he tried to use it to get present intel from Betty and Veronica, but the girls saw through it and tricked him instead. Another year he learned the TrueMeaningOfChristmas from some special children he met on the job.
** A one-shot Li'l Jinx featured the titular character pestering a mall santa about a letter she got.
** One Betty and Veronica double digest cover, in which a ''teenaged'' Betty is bothering a mall Santa.
** Yet another story featured Betty and Veronica as [[SweetPollyOliver Mall Santas]]. This isn't counting the times they've just worn a SexySantaDress.
* ''JusticeSocietyOfAmerica'': Ma Hunkel, the original ComicBook/RedTornado, spent time each Christmas as a mall Santa. A group of crooks make the mistake of attempting to rob her mall on the Christmas Eve the JSA turn up to recruit her as their housekeeper.

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[[folder: Fan Fiction ]]

* [[FanFic/UltimateSpiderWoman Mary Jane Watson]] gets a job as one of Santa's helpers in the Christmas display at Macy's Department Store. She feels more than a little silly in her ChristmasElves outfit, but she turns out to actually be pretty good at the job.
* In one ArtemisFowl fanfiction, Artemis's mother takes a five-year old Artemis Christmas shopping and makes take a picture with one. Artemis bluntly tells the Santa that he knows the man is a fake. The Mall Santa rolls with it, telling Artemis of the Santa Conspiracy.
-->'''Santa''': Tell you what kid, it's true. I'm not the real Santa, you think only one man can run this operation? Santa sends his agents out to find out what the kids act and if they're really being naughty or nice.
-->'''Artemis''' (quietly amazed): So how does he deliver those presents?
-->'''Santa''': You think one man could deliver all those presents in one night by ''himself?''
-->'''Artemis''': So he doesn't work alone?
-->'''Santa''': Nope, he sends his agents to deliver presents all around the world and no one knows the difference.
** Artemis then resolves to uncover Santa's operations.
* ''[[http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4755435/1/Metal_Gear_Santa Metal Gear Santa]]'' featured Old Snake dressed up as Santa Claus and Sunny and Otacon dressed up as elves.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Film ]]

* Classic film example from a child's perspective: ''AChristmasStory''.
* ''Film/BadSanta'' featured a thief working as a Mall Santa in order to rob the stores.
* Both versions of ''MiracleOn34thStreet'' use the real Santa, Kris Kringle, as a department store Santa. In the original, it's Macy's; in the remake, it's [[BrandX Cole's]]. At least in the original, he's replacing a terrible, drunken MallSanta, so bonus points there.
* ''{{Elf}}'' - Buddy, who knows the real Santa, is incensed when an impostor shows up at the department store he works in. He accuses the fake of smelling "like beef and cheese!" and gets into a fistfight with him. After that, the store gets a different Santa- who is ''black''.
* The European horror/comedy short subjects and the later film ''Film/RareExportsAChristmasTale'' purport to tell the true story of where the red-suited entities seen in stores at Christmas actually come from. [[spoiler:They're actually centuries-old cryptozoological wild men, captured and trained until they can be trusted to hold children on their laps without ripping them apart. That is, unless someone is foolish enough to do one of the things that enrages them... ]] It's revealed in TheMovie [[spoiler:that these "Santas" are in fact just Santa's little elves. The ''real'' Santa is [[EldritchAbomination much, much worse]]. And most definitely MallSanta material.]]
* In ''HomeAlone'', Kevin runs to find a Santa in time on Christmas Eve. He finds one getting into his car after quiting time. He quickly puts his beard back on and does his best Jolly Old St. Nick, but Kevin tells him not to bother. He already knows he's not the real Santa, but he knows he does work for him. The Santa [[SureLetsGoWithThat just goes with it]]. Kevin then asks him to relay the message that he wants his family back.
* Look ''[[Film/LookWhosTalking Who's Talking Now]]'' features Kirstie Alley's character having to work as a department store Santa's Elf. A kid asks her if she's an elf, and she replies that she's [[ActorAllusion actually a]] [[Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan Vulcan]].
* The one in ''AllIWantForChristmas'' is visited twice, due to Hallie thinking her wish was [[ExactWords phrased wrong]].
* ''Film/HotFuzz'' features a scene of Creator/PeterJackson as Father Christmas stabbing Creator/SimonPegg in the hand.
* The crime film ''The Silent Partner'' involves a mall Santa who turns out to be a bank robber...and then gets caught up in dueling gambits with a teller at the bank who wants to keep the loot for himself.
* ''SantaWho'' has a scenario where Santa falls from his sleigh and gets amnesia, and during the course of the movie, he ends up as a mall Santa for awhile.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature ]]

* In the ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' novel ''Hogfather'', Death (who's ''already'' standing in for the real deal), attempts to replace the Hogfather at an expensive department store. Since he already has the Hogfather's sack, he horrifies the store owner by giving away wonderful presents, thereby heavily eating into the profits.
** Not to mention Death's failure to perceive certain human conventions regarding appropriate gifts for children. Such as the full-size, completely real ''broadsword'' he hands to a little girl, before being hastily convinced that a fully functional weapon might not be the best idea (he just turned the blade to wood). Or a girl wants a real life pony to be in her home... in a second floor apartment. Overall, he gives children toys that they actually want, rather than what their parents consider appropriate for them. Sometimes it's a good thing, sometimes not.
* In Nathan Englander's humourous short story ''Reb Kringle'', Itzik, a devoutly Orthodox Jew, reluctantly takes this job because he and his wife need the money and he already has the requisite long white beard and big belly. Itzik takes in stride the typical annoyances of overly-greedy requests and attempts to remove his beard, but loses it when the child of an interfaith couple admits he'd rather celebrate Hanukkah.
* In L. Jagi Lamplighter's ''[[ProsperosDaughter Prospero Lost]]'', feeling the barghests, Miranda asks for direction, and is sent to the mall. Where they find that the MallSanta is actually Father Christmas, who can deal easily with a pack of {{Hell Hound}}s/{{Living Shadow}}s.
* In one of Harlequin's [[RomanceNovel Romance Novels]], the pairing are a pair of divorcees - the woman is manager at the store, which is an OldEstablishedBusiness with an [[TheRival equally old, established rival]] (the competition between the two is even referenced as being akin to that between Bloomingdale's and Macy's) while the man is (at first appearances) a guy who's one bounced check from being homeless and focused on getting revenge on his RichBitch of an ex (who also faked evidence to make him appear to be a DomesticAbuser, effectively conning the judge into giving her full custody of their daughter). The guy is desperate for a job, but wants something seasonal - and she's desperate for a MallSanta since the one they usually hire is getting on in years. The manager is also frequently roped into babysitting the store owner's grandson - who is also the unofficial vetter for the Mall Santas that are hired. The kid is mentioned as still believing in Santa, but justifies Mall Santas as being like heralds for the real deal - which also neatly explains, to him, why not all Mall Santas are equal: some have the calling and some are just in it for the money.

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[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* Harry from ''Series/ThirdRockFromTheSun'' was a helper for a mall santa, and mentioned that children over 16 years of age should not sit on Santa's lap. He was also horrified when he saw the mall santa remove his costume, as Harry had believed he was really Santa.
* ''MarriedWithChildren.''
** Considering that many of the kids' parents were neighbors Al didn't like, he told one kid to tell daddy to stay home when the mailman comes over. He tells a girl who wants a pony that he'll leave one under the tree, but if it's not there by morning, her mother chased it away and killed it...
** Al got a job as a MallSanta in two other episodes -- one on season seven and again near the end of the series' run after two young men replace Al and his BlackBestFriend Griff at the shoe store.
* ''AccordingToJim.'' Jim gets into a minor car accident at Christmas time. The other guy gives him fake information. Later, Jim recognizes him as the mall Santa. HilarityEnsues.
* ''NipTuck'', where a drunken Sean dons the Santa outfit.
* ''Series/{{Monk}}'', in the episode "Mr. Monk and the Secret Santa": Monk and Natalie go undercover at a shopping mall trying to locate the person Stottlemeyer suspects tried to kill him. To do so, this involves Monk being disguised as a Mall Santa, with Natalie wearing a wig to pose as his elf. Although the humor revolved around Monk's obsessive compulsive disorder and having to be up close to children.
* Kramer in ''Series/{{Seinfeld}}''.
* ''Series/KenanAndKel'' had Kenan playing the Mall Santa and giving up the mountain bike he'd been saving up for to really buy gifts for two of the kids.
* ''Series/ThirdWatch'''s Season 5 episode "The Spirit" had grumpy policeman Sully playing Santa at a toy store.
* ''Series/BostonLegal'' had an episode in the first season where Alan Shore represents a mall Santa who's a WholesomeCrossdresser (not at work) in a court action to keep him from being fired because of it. This ends with Al Sharpton being coming into the courtroom and having no clue what he's doing, and saying "So give the world a black Santa Clause!"
* Thelma Harper takes on the job in the ''Series/MamasFamily'' episode "Santa Mama", to fill in for her son Vinton, who lost his voice practicing his "Ho Ho Ho".
* ''Series/SaturdayNightLive''
** An early fake commercial for "Santi-Wrap," a plastic sheet similar to disposable toilet seat covers, featured John Belushi as a slovenly, drunken mall Santa, thereby illustrating why such a product is necessary.
** A later ''SNL'' featured Master Thespian taking the job of mall Santa, seemingly without doing the research and winging it - even working in a hammy death scene.
** Then there was the Sally Field/Tony, Toni, Tone episode where Chris Farley's motivational speaker character Matt Foley plays a Mall Santa.
* In the ''Series/DrakeAndJosh'' Christmas [[TheMovie movie]], Drake plays Santa, while his brother Josh plays Santa's sack (of toys). Drake ends up making a promise to a little girl that the two of them spend the rest of the movie keeping.
* There was an episode of ''That70sShow'' where Red worked as a Mall Santa:
-->'''Little Girl''': "I want a pony!"
-->'''Red''': "Ponies die."
* In the ''Series/NaturallySadie'' episode "A Very Sadie Christmas", Hal gets a job as a mall Santa and uses it as an opportunity to scam free stuff, demanding bribes from kids in exchange for promising to grant their Christmas wishes.
* ''Series/SoulMan'' featured a mall Santa, also. With Rev. Weber's son having a technicolour yawn all over Santa's beard on both years he went to see him.
* A ''[[Series/TheTwilightZone Twilight Zone]]'' Christmas episode, "Night of the Meek", stars Art Carney as an alcoholic department store Santa who despairs over not being able to help the poor people in his slum neighborhood - [[spoiler: but in the spirit of the show, he finds a sack that magically produces presents on demand... then at shows' end he gets his own wish and [[CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming becomes Santa for real.]]]]
* ''EverybodyHatesChris'', Julius plays Santa at the mall for extra money. When the children tell him what they want for Christmas, he makes them cry by telling them how expensive the toys/gifts are, how long their parents will have to work for it, and how they might not get what they want.
* ''{{Roseanne}}'' convinces her boss to let her play Santa ''herself,'' and the kids fall for it even though she doesn't remotely sound like a man. Jackie plays Mrs. Claus...as a drill sergeant photographer.
* The ''Series/{{Sliders}}'' Christmas episode, "Season's Greedings" had Arturo become a mall Santa with Wade and Rembrandt as his elves.
* On ''Series/AreYouBeingServed?'', an episode dealt with the store employees' competition to ''be'' the MallSanta.
* The cast of ''Series/{{Glee}}'' encounter a rather JerkAss mall Santa, who promises dim Brittany that he will cure Artie's paralysis.
* ''Series/{{Leverage}}'': A mall Santa comes to the team for help because he was fired and the new mall Santas all seem to be criminals. Elliot ends up playing Santa for a while and is terrible at it, but Parker seems to enjoy her role as a ChristmasElf.
* In the ChristmasEpisode of ''ItsAlwaysSunnyInPhiladelphia'', Charlie realizes that when he was a child, everyone who came to his house dressed as Santa on Christmas had sex with his mom. A Mall Santa happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
-->Charlie: Did you fuck my mom, Santa Claus?
* In the ChristmasEpisode of ''Series/RoundTheTwist'', CoolOldLady Nell becomes a MallSanta. It leads to her being attacked by the ''real'' Santa.
* ''Series/TwoBrokeGirls'': The two girls get jobs as Santa's Helpers during Christmas in order to make a few extra bucks.
* ''Series/MurphyBrown'': Murphy uses her IntrepidReporter skills to find the absolute '''best''' Mall Santa in the DC area for her son's first Christmas photo. Then when she gets there, it's his day off.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Music ]]

* Fountains of Wayne has a song called "The Man in the Santa Suit" about an unnamed guy doing this. He is not very good at it, but the song is from his POV, so it's pointed out that neither is anyone else.

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[[folder: New Media ]]

* The I Can Has Cheezburger site "Sketchy Santas", which displays odd, awkward and sometimes slightly scary moments with real mall Santas.

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[[folder: Newspaper Comics ]]

* ''{{Peanuts}}''
** In an often-reprinted strip, Linus tells Lucy that he wished the store Santa a Happy Hanukkah and discussed "Judas Maccabeus and the cleansing of the Temple" with him. "It's not often you find a Santa Claus interested in religion," he says...
** It also occurred in a later series of strips which involved Sally Brown expressing her concern that Santa could, "have a coronary in some kid's living room," and visiting a department store to tell the Santa there to watch out for his cholesterol and try to, "check for a crease in his ear lobes." [[spoiler: She gets chucked out of the place and arrives home to hear news that a department store Santa had a heart attack and had to be rushed to hospital after a little girl caused a disturbance earlier on.]]

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[[folder: Radio ]]

* The ''[[http://www.npr.org/programs/specials/lists/sedaris/ SantaLand Diaries]]'' - Humorist Creator/DavidSedaris recounts his experience as an Elf in the Macy's Santa village.
* Also from [[{{NPR}} Public Radio]], Act III of ''This American Life'' #371 ("[[http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/371/scenes-from-a-mall Scenes from a Mall]]") features the fascinating and [[SeriousBusiness serious]] tale of the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas (AORBS).

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[[folder: Video Games ]]

* A random Santa Claus can be seen wondering the streets of Dobuita late in the year in ''{{Shenmue}}''. He carries a bell, greets with "Merry Christmas" and everything.
* While not in a mall, there's a mission where you have to beat up elves belonging to a man in a Santa costume in the town square in ''VideoGame/{{Bully}}''. The hobo Santa could also count.
* During the [[YouMeanXMas Feast of Winter's Veil]] in ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'', "Greatfather Winter" can be found in Ironforge and Orgrimmar.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Webcomics ]]

* In ''Webcomic/KevinAndKell'', Kevin takes a temp job as a mall Santa to earn the money to buy Kell's family heirlooms from her brother Ralph, who plans to sell them off anyway. He's surprised when ex-wife Angelique, herding her stepchildren from her (failed) second marriage, fails to recognize him. (It's pointed out to him that, with twenty children to keep track of, ''anyone'' would be a bit distracted.)
* Gabe from ''Webcomic/PennyArcade'' [[http://penny-arcade.com/comic/2003/12/08 worked as one]].
* In ''Webcomic/{{PVP}}'', Skull is accidentally pressganged into being a mall Santa while stoned on a bad orange julius and ends up telling a mother where she can buy the game console Francis had squirreled away for himself.
* In an early ''Webcomic/SomethingPositive'' strip, Jason works as a mall Santa. A circle of children's heads demonstrates the inevitable questions posed to him. The final panel is someone asking him what he wants for Christmas, to which he replies, "A vasectomy."
** On top of this, though, the first girl on his lap mentioned how she'd asked for a kitten the year before, and [[http://somethingpositive.net/sp12042002.shtml instead got Tap shoes]] (metal plates on the heels and toes). Her mother told her to thank Santa for bringing them, and she decided [[GroinAttack to show them off]], leading into a CurseCutShort. Given ''just that'' experience, who can blame Jason for being a bit cynical?
* ''Webcomic/{{Multiplex}}'' has the Blogger play the part of a ''movie theater'' Santa, in which role he frequently argues with the kids' taste in movies, at odds with the jolly persona he's supposed to maintain. On quite a few occasions he loses the argument.
* ''Webcomic/TheEnds'' has the crazy priest preaching from a mall Santa's chair.
* Psycho Mantis attempted to get a job as one in ''Webcomic/TheLastDaysOfFOXHOUND''. He bounced when someone got ahold of his employee record (or, rather, complete lack of one). Ocelot, upon learning of it, becomes completely freaked out.
* In ''Webcomic/WorldOfFizz'' Fergo, already a security guard, was assigned to play Santa at the mall one year.
* Brad from ''Webcomic/TheClassMenagerie'' was one, and approved of a kid's desire to have a shotgun for Christmas.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''
** In the pilot episode, Homer becomes one in order to get the money to buy his family their Christmas presents. Bart finds out it's him when Milhouse dares him to rip off his beard.
** The much later episode "Kill Gil: Vols. 1 & 2" featured the title Jack Lemmon figure giving Lisa her wish in his guise as Santa, getting fired over it, and spending the next year sponging off the Simpsons. After the year has passed, [[NotAllowedToGrowUp Bart is still a ten-year-old fourth grader and Lisa is still eight and in the second grade]].
* ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'' had hard-nosed gumshoe Harvey Bullock going undercover as a mall Santa. Let's just say there have been better candidates.
-->'''Kid''': "You're not the real Santy Clause!" \\
'''Bullock''': "Sure I am. Wanna see my gun?"
-->'''Renee Montaya:''' ''([[DopeSlap Dope Slaps]] him)''.
* In ''InspectorGadget Saves Christmas'', Chief Quimby is disguised as a Mall Santa in one of the series' more memorable extended gags.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheBoondocks'' episode "A Huey Freeman Christmas" has a subplot where Riley, angry at not having received a Christmas gift he asked for in previous years, physically attacks the local Mall Santa with golf clubs and BB guns. After hiring a security guard for Santa does nothing to deter Riley, [[spoiler:Uncle Ruckus is left as the only Woodcrest resident willing to be the Mall Santa, but none of the children who come to the mall are willing to accept a black Santa Claus as real]].
* [[WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy Stewie Griffin]] once got the short end of the stick with [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8SR4e5nBoI an Asian Santa.]]
* [[WesternAnimation/{{Metalocalypse}} Dr Rockzo, the Rock & Roll Clown who does Cocaine,]] got a job as a MallSanta after he was given a GetOutofJailFreeCard. [[ManChild Toki,]] who apparently believes in Santa Claus, ran into him.
** "Thats don'ts makes sense!"
* Skarr from ''WesternAnimation/TheGrimAdventuresOfBillyAndMandy''. He nearly kills Billy, but no one intervenes (except the elves) until his beard comes off. Then, everyone beats him up for not being Santa. They also start a riot and burn the mall to the ground.
* Coco from ''WesternAnimation/FostersHomeForImaginaryFriends'', who says she needed the money to pay off her vacation home. When Mac accidentally rips her beard off, she's fired and refuses to speak to Mac for the rest of the day.
* The main six in ''WesternAnimation/{{Recess}}'' meet a mall Santa in the ChristmasEpisode. Though out of frustration, he rips his beard off and asks his assistant if they can get the next mall Santa to cover.
* In "DanVs the Mall Santa", Dan is actually an elf. However, a [[YesVirginia matter of opinion]] (plus the fact that the Mall Santa is a Jerkass) causes him and the faux Santa to bicker. In the end, however, [[spoiler:Dan ends up getting him fired for beating him up, and takes his place as the Mall Santa.]]
* [[WesternAnimation/InvaderZim Zim]] abducts a mall Santa to gain information about how to use the image of Santa Claus to TakeOverTheWorld
-->'''Zim''': Who are these grubby red bearded men who smell of ham '''[[LargeHam AND VOMIT!]]'''
* In the ''WesternAnimation/{{Rugrats}}'' episode, "The Santa Experience", Angelica cuts in line to see the Mall Santa, and after she tells him the large amount of presents she wants, he tells her he isn't sure he can get them for her. Angelica then rips off his beard and runs through the mall, screaming, "Santa Claus is a fake! Run for your lives!"
* In {{WesternAnimation/Beetlejuice}}, the episode "Keeping Up With the Boneses" sees Beetlejuice forced to work off his credit card debt by becoming a badly-costumed Mall Santa (a pillow he's using as stuffing is visible), with Lydia playing his elf. Beetlejuice, of course, is less than happy about all of this.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Original ]]

* Tariq dresses up like this to earn some cash in the ''KateModern'' episode "Grabbed By The Bells". "You think your life is a mess? I'm a 24-year-old Muslim man dressed as Santa!"
* A woman had to pose as Santa. [[http://ponderous.0catch.com/holiday3.htm Ponderous Woman]]
* ''WebVideo/DragonBallZAbridged'': In "Christmas Tree of Might," one of Turles' mooks had this job, and he was particularly nasty about it, dropping a fire truck on one kid's house and killing another because he asked him to [[ExactWords get rid of]] his cancer.
-->'''Krillin''': God, you are one of the worst mall Santas ever right behind those ones that molest kids!\\
'''Minion''': So I'm the ''worst'' mall Santa?\\
'''Krillin''': Oh, come on!
* ''The Misadventures of Onipex and Pals'' had two in the second Christmas episode. One of which [[spoiler: molested Jevik as a child.]]
* The eponymous [[TheTourettesGuy Tourettes Guy]] aptly describes his dad as one. [[BerserkButton Big mistake]].
--> '''Danny''': Fuck you and every mall Santa that looks like you!
* Creator/ImprovEverywhere has the "Mall Santa Musical" song about adults' desire to sit on a mall Santa's lap.

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