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      Santa's secret: Economic downturn hits North Pole

      A Facebook picture of the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Mich.

      / Source: Facebook

      Whether it's a pony, an iPod or a new dress, shopping mall Santa Clauses hear a wide range of requests from hopeful children.

      With the economic downturn and parents struggling to put surprises under the Christmas tree, some Santa Clauses are being taught how to lower children's expectations, the New York Times reports.

      This year's 115 graduates of the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Mich., are learning how to quickly size up the financial status of families as the kids approach.

      They are also taught how to gently answer the question, "Can you bring Daddy a job?"

      "In the end, Santas have to be sure to never promise anything," Fred Honerkamp, an alumnus of the school who also lectures there, told the newspaper.

      The school has been around since 1937 and holds a three-day program every fall to train the new crop of Santa Clauses.

      How would you want a shopping mall Santa Claus to answer your child if he/she asks for something too big to afford? Sound off below and on our WNWO Facebook page.