Poor Santa(73169)Credit: Introspective Pics.

The Bad Economy Hits Jolly Old St. Nick

Poor Santa, he has to deal with a weak economy just like everyone else, and this year, children will hear a different message from him. In an effort to help parents struggling financially, department store Santas are telling children not to expect to receive all the gifts they asked for this Christmas. Even if they've been good all year long. It was bound to happen, and it's just another sign of the current poor economic times in America and throughout the world.

Santa gets Special Training

The largest Santa school in the U.S., the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Michigan, has been instructing their 'Santas in training' on how to lower children's expectations in the current economic downturn. This season the Santa students will be equipped with some special training in dealing with the high expectations of children while helping parents stay within their budgets.[1424]

According to one department store Santa; "Santa always tells the child 'Santa promises to bring you something very special, but it's a secret.' Santa never promises to bring any gift." He also said "Santa encourages the child to narrow down their list to the absolute favorites, so that's part of Santa working with the parents."[1425]

Sizing up the Parents

It also seems as though Santa is being taught to look at a child's parents in an attempt to determine whether or not they can afford that child's requests. In other words, to"size them up" prior to promising the child anything.[1424] A type of department store Santa profiling system and one can only imagine the criteria.

Trying to Get Those Deals

People were up at the crack of dawn and even camped out overnight in an attempt to purchase as many gifts as possible. These folks braved Black Friday crowds and long lines, in hopes of getting the best deals. In a struggling economy, shoppers are doing everything they can to get the most bang for their holiday buck. According to Appliance Magazine, the average holiday shopper spent $398.62 during the Black Friday weekend in 2011. This figure is up from $365.34 in 2010, and total spending was estimated at approximately $52.4 billion.[1426]

Top Toys

But, do all those Black Friday shoppers have the right idea? Do your kids really need the latest toys to make them happy? Not according to one department store Santa, who said the top three toy requests are still the 'basics' like trains, Barbie dolls, and Legos.[1425]

Advice for Struggling Families

In these tough economic times, many families are struggling to deal with unrealistic expectations from their children. One child psychologist claims most parents purchase much more than their children can appreciate, and suggests limiting the number of items. Consider "quality over quantity," is the advice.[1425]

One mother said, "We try to give the gift of giving to other people and it not be about me."[1425] While others are trying to explain to their children why they can't get everything, they want this year.

The Meaning of Christmas

There's no time like the present to teach children about the true meaning of Christmas. Instead of making it all about the gifts under the tree, why not volunteer at your local church, hospital, shelter or any other place that could use a helping hand. Let your children (especially older children) see that just because they didn't get the latest toy, they still have a lot to be thankful for.

This year why not give Santa (and yourself) a break and spend less money on material items, most of which will be forgotten by next year.

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