Miss Manners: Santa look-alike is short on holiday cheer

December 20, 2011

DEAR MISS MANNERS: May I add to your list of overly personal questions to ask of strangers?

I am in my 60s, and while the hair has largely left the top of my head, the bottom of my head — my chin — grows it profusely. I wear a large, full beard of gray and white. And I am what one would call portly in shape.

Yes, a big round fat guy with a beard.

It is astonishing to me how many people feel the need to call me “Santa.” Many walk up and suggest, “Hey, you could be Santa Claus.” They all seem to think this may never have been suggested before — “Anyone ever tell you that?”

My usual response, “Well, no, not yet today, but it is barely noon yet.”

Some persist, “No, really, did you ever think of going to the mall and being Santa?” They don’t realize that it is a tough job to do, and not an easy job to get, and no, I don’t want it. And honest, it has come up before.

Then there are the greeters, who just holler out, “Hey, Santa!” as they pass by. I have even had people bring their small children to my table in a restaurant and tell them, “Look, it’s Santa Claus.”

I never let down the children; they are too young and innocent to know how boorish this all is. For the adults I usually say something noncommittal and brush it off. But it is tiring.

I can assure Miss Manners, and anyone else who cares, that large round men who wear full beards have ALREADY heard that they look like Santa and don’t need to hear it again each day.

GENTLE READER: Consider this added to the list of Voicing the First Cliche That Pops Into Your Head. To Miss Manners’s regret, and countless victims’ annoyance, it is a very long list. And she gives you leave to reply, “Bah, humbug.”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Every year my husband and I host a Christmas Eve celebration with our families. And every year our family is never invited to a Christmas Day dinner. I have become frustrated that no one ever thinks of us on Christmas Day.

I am to the point of now asking each family to make a larger contribution to the Christmas Eve party than just to bring a side dish or dessert. Would it be wrong to ask for each party to bring two food items and dessert? Would it be wrong to express that someone else should host next year?

GENTLE READER: As your gathering is a cooperative family venture, you can certainly ask — if you do so cheerfully, without your grudge — that someone else take over, or that larger contributions be made. You could also suggest that the event be held on Christmas Day, if that is when you feel neglected. But the idea should not be to punish the family, but to share more of the work.

Miss Manners fails to understand why you are sulking. Christmas Eve is the extended family celebration for your relatives; it is not likely that they think of repeating the event by inviting family members the next day.

Visit Miss Manners at her Web site, www.missmanners.com, where you can send her your questions.

2011, by Judith Martin

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