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overblown wishes and pose with tots on their laps, careful

not to take hold of the wrong place and send the parents

screaming pedophilia. I had a bag of candy in my pocket to

give the kids when necessary, but I’d tell them to send their

wish lists straight to the North Pole.

People stared when I stepped into the department store’s

elevator, even though Santa was an everyday sight in

Finnish stores in December. A little boy about two stepped

back into his mother’s coat. I tried to smile, since my

purpose was not to arouse attention but to observe. The

mustache tickled more than ever.

The cosmetics department was still quite empty. I made my

way over to the counter from which the most products had

been taken. The most expensive cream, a gold-toned fifty-

milliliter bottle of night cream promising eternal youth,

cost over 500 euros. Six bottles of that had been stolen from

the display shelf over the last few weeks. The security

camera had not disclosed the guilty.

A woman in her fifties with pleasant laugh lines ap-

proached me. “Is Santa thinking of a present for Mrs.

Claus?” Her name tag read,



“The lady’s already 300 years old but I love her old too,” I

quipped back, and the woman gave a warm laugh. She was

the brand’s dedicated consultant. She of everyone would

have had it easiest to pinch the creams. Even if she sold