The jolly man in red is tasked with deciding who has been good or bad, but sometimes it's Santa Claus himself who belongs on the naughty list.
From the North Pole to right here in Maryland, there have been documented instances of those who emulate Old St. Nick engaging in less-than-upstanding behavior.
In 2008, one would-be Santa picked up a letter from the Severn post office as part of the Operation Santa Claus program, according to ABC News . The act seemed innocent enough, until a postal worker recognized the man as a registered sex offender.
He had been convicted of sexual abuse of a minor, ABC News reported .
Postal service employees stopped the man and confiscated the letter, which listed the child's name and address. The incident prompted a temporary shutdown of the decades-old program and a revamp of privacy measures associated with it, according to The New York Times .
The 2008 incident wasn't the first or the last time someone convicted or charged with a sex crime donned the Santa moniker.
Five years earlier, in 2003, a 67-year-old man and two-year mall Santa was charged with sexual battery and accused of molesting a boy and a girl he was related to, according to The Sun Sentinel.
Last year a registered sex offender served as Santa Claus at a city Christmas celebration in Cleveland, Texas, according to KTRK-TV .
The man, who volunteered for the Santa gig and had photos taken with children at the event, had served time for a sex crime when he was 12 years old, KTRK-TV reported . There were no restrictions keeping him from children and no criminal incidents happened at the event, however.
Just this year, there have been a several "Bad Santas" making headlines around the country. A man paid to visit Oklahoma schools as Santa Claus was arrested in July after allegedly trying to proposition a 15-year-old girl, according to a story from Oklahoma's News9.com .
The man, "reportedly made numerous sexual and lewd proposals and even referred to himself as ‘Santa,'" while responding to a Craigslist ad posted by an undercover police officer posing as a teenage girl, according to the News9.com story .
Then earlier this month, a 62-year-old veteran Santa was ousted from his mall post in Hingham, Mass. and charged with indecent assault and battery after allegedly pinching the butt of an 18-year-old woman working as an elf, according to The Huffington Post .
Many malls and photo companies take precautions, however, by conducting criminal background checks and testing for drugs before employing a Santa to make sure they hire one from the ‘nice' list, according to a Baltimore Sun story .
With all the trouble and bad press Santa has seen in recent years, are you any less inclined to visit Mr. Claus with the kids in tow?