Ah, those harried Men in Red, ensconced in their cramped rustic cabins, designed less for comfort and more for souvenir photography and speedy child throughput.
Even though there are plenty of St. Nicks to go around in the winter, let's keep in our thoughts those dedicated, sweating Santas of Summer.
We visited three classic Santa's Lands in 2003...
North Pole, Colorado
In the shadow of Pike's Peak, this fanciful holiday village is a near mirror version of the original one in North Pole, New York. More regular amusement park rides here, and a large staff. Colorado's Santa is a busy guy, as vacationing families funneled along the gorges from Colorado Springs past Garden of the Gods usually end up here.
We caught the Jolly One five minutes before his Workshop closed, and were pleased to notice that his portable cooler is Christmas tree green.
North Pole, New York
When a town has a name like "North Pole," you can bet it will receive a lot of mail in December. The Santa who lives in Santa's House never gets done reading letters from kids, but he always takes a moment to pose with children who make the trek in person.
Outside the attraction is the North Pole Post Office, where letters and packages are officially postmarked "North Pole."
Santa's Land USA
We're praying this attraction is still kicking after the Spring thaw in southern Vermont. When we visited in 2003, Santa's Land USA was open but nearly deserted, and had disappeared from state tourism literature (always a bad sign). Nevertheless, the train was running, the funnel cakes were toasting, and Santa was as jolly as we've ever seen him. By 2004, Santa's Land USA had been renovated and was back on the tourism maps.