Around this time of year, shopping malls around the world hire actors and set up spaces where children can sit on Santa’s lap, and ask him for presents. But when a London-based Santa Claus promised a 7-year-old boy that he would get a Star Wars Lego set worth $500 – the boy’s mother got very angry.
According to The Mirror, Linda Belnik and her son Joshua, from Surrey in the United Kingdom, were visiting the Westfield Shopping Center – a popular shopping mall in West London. Every year, the center sets up a “Santa Claus Grotto,” designed to look like a study, where an actor dressed as Father Christmas interacts with the children, who can ask him for presents.
Joshua, who is apparently a big Star Wars fans, had asked Mall Santa for a Star Wars Death Star Lego set – a popular toy these days, with the new Star Wars: Rogue One film making a lot of noise. The toy, made out of 4,000 pieces, is a model of the infamous Death Star weapon, and includes 23 mini-figures from the Star Wars films – including those of Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker and other famous Star Wars characters.
The problem? The Star Wars Death Star toy costs £399.99 (that’s approximately $500) – and Santa isn’t the one who has to buy the toy – that falls on the the boy’s mother, Linda.
According to the mother’s claims, when the boy asked Santa for the expensive gift, Father Christmas didn’t flinch.
“See this white phone?” he said to the boy, “I will call the elves now and get them to make it for you.”
Linda was petrified at this point, as her son had already asked her for that same toy – but she decided not to buy it for him, as it was too expensive. Santa, it seems, had other ideas.
“I was stood there cringing. I couldn’t believe he’d promised such an expensive toy. Santas usually tell kids they’ll see what they can do, not promise anything.
“It doesn’t matter if he wants a teddy bear, or a pony, he can’t promise something to a kid. It’s put me in a really awkward position.”
Linda, who didn’t want to embarrass her son by asking to see “Santa’s manager” in front of him, complained to the mall’s managers when she returned home, and was offered an ice-skating package as a gesture of goodwill.
Speaking to The Daily Mail about the Santa Star Wars incident, a Westfield spokesperson said that their Santa knows better.
“All grotto staff are trained and follow strict guidelines which, under no circumstances, include the promise of specific gifts. The Santa has over 20 years’ experience and has not promised specific gifts to the child.”
Linda, however, stood by her son’s version of events – who is now confused, claiming he was promised by Santa that he would get the expensive Star Wars toy for Christmas.
“I had already told Joshua he is not getting the present,” Linda explains. “So that’s why it’s even more upsetting as he now truly believes he is. He’s walking around saying Santa said he will get the toy.”
So far, 2016 appears to be a bad year for Mall Santa Clauses. Last week, a pastor in Texas shouted at children waiting in line for a photo with Santa, telling them that “Santa isn’t real.” He then staged a mock execution of Santa Claus.
In another incident earlier this month, a 9-year-old boy from North Carolina was shamed by none other than Santa Claus at the town center, after being told by Santa that he should “lay off the hamburgers and fries.”
The lesson? If you take your kids to see a Santa Claus in public, remember there’s a human being behind the costume – and human beings can sometimes be a bit unpredictable – and you might find yourself with a very confused child, or a very empty wallet.
[Featured Image by Oksana Kuzmina/Shutterstock]