Economic conditions are tough. Experts and pundits agree that, for the most part, the country is on the road to recovery — albeit moving at a snail's pace.
In other words, no matter how successful a Christmas-based business may be during December, it's going to need some help during the rest of the year.
Santa Claus, like many other business CEOs, has been forced to come to terms with this new and increasingly uncertain financial climate.
The last thing Old Saint Nick wanted is to lay off any of the elves that help his toy operation stay on track. He can't very well afford to bring in less experienced workers to help drive down reindeer salary demands (as that job is extremely specialized).
But fortunately, the same way he sees all the naughty and nice boys and girls throughout the year, Santa saw this coming. Rather than looking for tax loopholes, cutting back-room deals or seeking government bailouts, Kris Kringle put on his finest suit (no, not that suit) and began what has become a long tenure with Ebby Halliday Realtors, right here in Dallas.
With the promise of an extra helping of milk and cookies (not the sugar-free faux snacks that Santa says are becoming an increasing annoyance), Father Christmas himself sat down with BubbleLife to talk about his little known personal life outside of the North Pole.
First things first, due to the inevitable media circus that would ensue if the world found out that Santa was finding homes for folks in the greater Dallas area, Mr. Claus uses the name Charles Hollingsworth, which was his name before he bought a home Dallas, and later found out he was Santa.
So why Dallas?
"Well," Hollingsworth said, running his fingers through his world-famous beard, "the weather is much better here, for a start. Plus, there are some good tech resources to help me operate the North Pole production by remote from afar."
Now, there are several questions that Hollingsworth may have been nervous about answering: magic reindeer? flying sleigh? why didn't I get that Nintendo 64 in junior high? But, the most obvious question is how can the public be assured that he is indeed the real Santa Claus?
The answer is simple: his beard.
Unbeknownst to many, when a current Santa decides it's time to hang up the toy bag and go into retirement (which, due to pension cuts, is less and less often), the magic from his beard is transferred to the next chosen Santa.
In Hollingsworth's case, the power of the beard came to him while on vacation in New England with his wife (yes, Mrs. Hollingsworth became Mrs. Claus immediately upon the transference of power).
"We were on vacation, and the power went out where we were staying," Hollingsworth said. "There was no hot water, so I couldn't shave, and so the beard just grew."
Power outage, the beard just grew… sounds very similar to 'Santa magic.'
Santa Cla- um, Mr. Hollingsworth, also said he returns to the North Pole from time to time to check in on the elves, but Dallas remains the base of his operations, as it has since the early 1960s.
His love and knowledge of real estate has made him a successful agent, garnering numerous productivity awards since he began the "side career" in 1979.
"I enjoy being involved in the community, and helping people find homes," he said. "Also, it's nice because I'm not required to cut my facial hair."
While Hollingsworth enjoys his job with Ebby Halliday, he always has his true Santa-persona in the back of his mind. This led to his purchase of a red Lexus (it reminds him of the sleigh), as well as a string of personal appearances as Santa — which were met with much acclaim from the community.
"It started over 25 years ago as just a few appearances here and there," Hollingsworth said. "Then it just kind of grew from there and became anything from churches, to children's events to private parties."
While previously Hollingsworth had to hide his true identity, the influx of Santa impersonators has enabled him to don his traditional garb numerous times during the holidays and still be able to go undiscovered.
"Of course December is always Santa's busiest time," Hollingsworth said. "But with the appearances and events, it is usually a full day and night of work on Saturdays during the month. It's all worth it, with the excitement of that first appearance each year and the joy I get out of seeing kids at the grocery store when they spot me."
Hollingsworth confided that just before our meeting he was swarmed by children at a yogurt shop.
Along with helping Ebby Halliday customers find homes, Hollingsworth has appeared as Santa for public and private photo sessions, sorority functions at SMU and numerous engagements at the multiple Ebby offices in the metroplex. But all that is not enough for the caring Mr. Claus, who also promotes rescue pet adoption.
With the biggest day of Santa's year fast approaching, Hollingsworth is preparing for this season's grand finale — a public appearance at the Ebby Halliday office in Lake Highlands.
From 9 to 11 a.m. this Saturday, Dec. 15, the public is invited to the company's 10233 E. Northwest Highway location to have cookies and a hot beverage with Dallas' most authentic Santa Claus, and a Platinum Award-Winning realtor.
"Bring the kids, bring the camera, and lets have a good time," Sant- uhh, Hollingsworth said.