Santa Shtick: Jewish kids review mall Santas

My kids don't really know anything about Santa Claus.

When they were 4 and 2, we went to the Baltimore Streetcar Museum for a visit, not realizing it was the time of its annual Christmas celebration, during which visitors could ride a vintage '50s streetcar (which is awesome, check it out year-round) up to the "North Pole" (i.e., the Department of Transportation's giant salt piles up on Falls Road). Once we got there, Santa climbed aboard the train, and after a round of "ho ho hos," gave each kid a candy cane and asked each what he or she wanted for Christmas. Other families were prepared with lists and cameras. My kids were psyched about the candy canes but otherwise dumbfounded. For a while after that, whenever they saw Santa at a mall or on TV, they would shout, "That's the guy who gave us candy!"

The boys are 8 and 6 now, and they know who Santa is. Every year, we ask them not to tell their non-Jewish friends that Santa isn't real, but we recently got a complaint from the parents of a traumatized kindergartener.

This year, City Paper thought we could put my kids' general lack of experience with or interest in Santa to good use. They've never talked to a Mall Santa, so we visited four of them, and got the kids to review their interactions with the emotional distance only a Jewish kid could provide. Their reviews follow, with ratings on a scale of one to eight Hanukkah candles (not including the shamash, duh.)

By Jack Serpick, Benny Serpick, and Evan Serpick
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