Try being Santa with kids who aren’t into it. On the other hand, most kids ARE into it. When I played Santa in the ’90s, I had lots of wonderful, good hearted kids tell me not only what they wanted for Christmas, but also expressed their desire to be really, really good and to deserve those presents.
Of course, kids are people and some were as greedy as they could be, listing all the most expensive toys they wanted as if they were entitled to them. But some kids could break your heart as well, like the little boy in one of the poorest parts of town who was dressed up in his Sunday best with his grandma and little sister. Seated on a milk crate in a convenience store, I asked him what he wanted for Christmas. He said, “All I want is for my daddy to be able to get up out of the wheelchair.”
I couldn’t breathe for a second. This boy was so sincere and giving. He didn’t want a toy, all he wanted was for his daddy to get well. I had to regain my composure and give him an answer that was reassuring without promising the impossible. “Well,” I stammered, trying to keep being Santa instead of the bowl of jelly my insides had become, “I can’t promise anything, but if you’re really, really good, I’m sure you’ll get something nice.” I looked up at grandma, who was fighting back a tear. She nodded to me as if to say, “He IS a good boy and I will try to get him something nice.”
I went to that store expecting to be asked for presents, but that boy gave me a present, he restored my faith in humanity.