Five great Santa movies … a bad Santa

By David Rather

The Christmas of 2005 was not a great one for me. I was unemployed for some time, and our home was in the early stages of foreclosure. I was mowing my lawn one mid-December afternoon (this is something you should do all year round in Los Angeles) and talking to yourself.

It was normal “What’s wrong with you?” I often talk to myself. You know, a little day-light where I review all my screwups, the wrong steps, the mistakes and the mistakes I made. But I have put off the really horrible things to confess with my priest. He probably heard worse, especially from the person who came to confess with a notebook and turned the pages as he left. What kind of person is that organized about his sin?

So I was there, mowing the lawn when my neighbor, Mrs. Yamamoto, came to the side of the road. She was always very happy for my taste. He didn’t walk – he did Bound. I was afraid to deal with her and her happiness. Apparently, she wanted me to be Santa at a Christmas party that she was throwing for her two little girls and their friends that afternoon. She had a full Santa costume for me, with padding for the belly and fake boots.

Well, how can I say no?

I went inside and announced to my family that I would be Santa in a few hours for the Yamamoto girls and their friends. Screams of ridicule began. I got dressed a few hours later, went to Yamamoto’s house and gave my best.

A girl is not buying it.

“You’re not Santa,” he said. “You’re from across Mr. Rath’s street.”

“Oh, I’m Santa,” I said. “Mr. Raether is bad and yells at people and doesn’t like kids. But I’m not like that. I’m actually Santa.”

He stared at me for a long time.

“You’re Mr. Rather,” he said.

I looked back at him.

“Anyway,” I whispered and turned to face him. He left after that.

And that was my career as a Santa Claus. I was a remarkably unusual old fairy, that’s for sure. What’s the lesson here? Maybe it’s: If you see a guy mowing his lawn on a Saturday afternoon and he’s talking to himself, don’t ask him to be Santa Claus at your child’s Christmas party.

However, as the Christmas holidays approach, there are always plenty of holiday themed movies. After all, it’s not just a popular place for storytelling, it’s a pretty safe bet for movie studios. I remember many years ago I pitched a movie in a big studio, a heartwarming melodrama where a large, close family breaks up and then comes together in a tragedy. The executive I was pitching to listen intently, nodded in the right place, said “interesting”, then sat quietly for a while after I finished.

“Do you have any idea about a Christmas movie?” He asked. “You know, with Santa Claus?”

Here are my five favorite Santa Clauses. Four of them are good Santa, and one is right, good, bad.

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