Turns out, not even Santa can escape a down economy.  

One of the top rules for mall Santas is "Never promise anything", but this year the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School (there's a school?) in Midland, Michigan is providing prospective mall Santas with some extra training and teaching them how to quickly assess a family's financial situation so they can lower the expectations of the children that come to sit on their laps.

According to one Santa in Training, if a child asks for something it looks like they cannot afford, he has to gently tell them that even Santa is cutting back these days. They're also taught how to gently handle tough requests for when kids ask Santa to help their Dad get a job.

Some Santas are responding by asking them if there's a special toy that they want and saying that Santa can't help Dad get a job, but they can give them the toy and pray for Dad to find work.

And here all along I just thought that the worst thing mall Santas had to worry about was getting sneezed on.