Ah, the strange, oft unsettling American tradition of shopping mall Santas. When I was little, my mom told me that the Santa at NorthPark was the real one. His beard looked fully attached to his face and his outfit was rich red velvet and fur. It was a convincing argument that made me a little more scared of him and a lot more resentful of all the other, poser Santas. Does he know about them? I wondered.
When I finally built up the courage to come face-to-face with the man, we waited in line so I could formally request a Heart of the Ocean necklace. (The year was 1999 and I was five years old. I don’t know why I was so familiar with Titanic.) Suddenly, it was my turn. The elves beckoned me, but my feet didn’t move. Oh no. Nope. Not today, Santa. I couldn’t handle the pressure. My mom and I retreated to FAO Schwartz (RIP).
I never did properly meet Santa, though I’ve remained on his nice list despite our awkward run-in. I guess he’s used to it; my mom isn’t the first one to wait in line for 37 minutes only to have an exhausted child refuse sitting on a strange man’s lap.
That’s all to say, mall Santas are a sweet tradition–but they’re not for everyone.
This year, Dallas-based ride share company Alto is offering a different, no-fuss way to meet Mr. Claus. Alto users can use the app to summon Santa to their own home on demand. The offer runs December 16 and 17 from 12-6 p.m. He’ll pull up in his Alto sleigh, take some photos by the fire, collect wishlists to send to the North Pole, and be on his merry way. The holiday perk is free and available to all Alto members on a first come, first served basis.