How to Zoom With Santa

The mall is forbidden, laps are unwelcome, and this year’s St. Nick memories will be virtual

Omar L. Gallaga
Debugger
Published in
8 min readNov 30, 2020

--

SantaSnaps is one of many websites this year offering personalized video messages or Zoom calls with Santa Claus. Photo: SantaSnaps.com

The grotesquely hilarious photo is almost always the same. Santa Claus is the jolly man in the red suit, big black buckled belt, and the pullable white beard. You know the guy.

The child, on the other hand, is twisted into a reddened, unfamiliar blur, close to unrecognizable in the throes of a screamy terror fit. It could be an alien insect painfully shedding its exoskeleton, this tiny, contorted, wet-with-tears thing on Santa’s lap. Santa looks nonplussed; sometimes the Jolly Elf is just holding up his hands with a zen “in 30 seconds, this kid is no longer my responsibility” sangfroid. This will have been the 30th or 31st meltdown of the day; it’s no biggie, really.

This disturbing photo provides laughs to the parents for years to come (the kid, not so much), but who knew how much more precious this image would come to be in a year (2020) when the ritual drama won’t be widespread—if it’s happening at all?

Nobody is expecting Santa’s lap to be open for business this year. If he is available in person at all, it will be ensconced in a snow globe, behind plexiglass, or carefully face-shielded and safety-distanced. Santa Claus 2020 will be refusing your plates of homemade cookies and milk to wash them down and also now demands regular Covid-19 testing.

Santa, really, could do this whole thing from the North Pole. Isn’t that why we have Zoom and FaceTime and YouTube and Cameo? It may not be a warm hug from an in-person Santa Claus, but the personal touch is being emphasized as critical by services that are already making custom Santa video greetings and scheduling out 20-minute Zoom calls to children who won’t be visiting temporary Santa outposts at the mall this year.

Nobody is expecting Santa’s lap to be open for business this year.

While panicked parents are approaching Thanksgiving with the realization that Santa, like all things will be different this year, entrepreneurs have been busy for months designing websites, securing Santa talent, and creating North Pole best practices, even in Hondo, Texas.

--

--

Omar L. Gallaga
Debugger

Tech culture writer and podcaster, now freelancing in Texas. Bylines: Washington Post, WSJ, CNN, NPR, Wired, Texas Monthly. Here for all your wordy needs.