I’m looking forward to testing my ‘Legion of Santas’ theory in the years to come. I’m going to tell the boy that of course, it’s impossible for there to be one man who delivers presents to the whole world in one night.
But not impossible for a secret society of them.
Effectively, your shopping centre efforts are low level initiates. They go through the motions in the hope of being noticed and making their way further up the chain. There a telegenic santas for film and TV work and a senior inner circle led by a leader- let’s call him Santa Prime- who operate out of a secret polar HQ. Come the big night, a literal army of red suited fanatics at the helm of genetically modified reindeers set to work.
Provided you do some reading from the tinfoil section of the internet to get the details right, it’s pretty much bulletproof. It could even explain Krampus as a sort of ‘inner circle member gone rogue’ thing. At the trivial cost of my son’s mental stability, I’ve got this licked.