I watched for a few minutes at Bob’s Trees as children lined up to visit with Santa. He had a real beard and a pretty good looking Santa suit. Maybe he was a tad thin, but that’s OK. Good on him for watching his weight.
To a little kid, spotting Santa is a pretty big deal — and seeing those children reminded me of something that still makes me feel bad.
Years ago, I produced a Christmas commercial for a local liquor retailer. The concept was simple: this store has such great prices, it’s where Santa shops for booze. I hired a local actor with experience playing Santa — he even had his own suit — and we spent a morning getting shots of Santa darting gleefully around the store picking out bottles for people on the ‘nice’ list.
All this was going great — but then, a woman came in the store with her young daughter to buy a bottle of wine. While we worked, the little girl kept peeking around the end of the aisle to catch a glimpse of Santa. Our talent played right along and coaxed the girl out from behind a stack of boxes. He was great, launching right into full Santa mode, and it really made that little girl’s day.
OK, that doesn’t sound bad, does it — and the commercial turned out great — so what’s the problem?
Even now when I think about that day — and this was nearly 30 years ago — I get the nagging feeling that it was wrong to put Santa in a liquor store. To that little girl, this was the real Santa, and I was using him to sell hooch.
Santa’s been used to sell so many things, but to see the power he has over children, right before my eyes — in a liquor store, for god’s sake — just made me feel dirty.
I’m probably the only person in the world who remembers all of this, but Santa, please accept my apology for exploiting your image in such a crass way. I hope you can see fit to forgive me — and if you do, a bottle of Glengoyne 18-year-old Scotch might help ease my mind.