Clearly, Santa's real reward is putting smiles on the faces of children who colored inside the lines behavior-wise during the year. That, and perhaps a stash of coveted Cronuts, put out for him and his delivery staff.
Still, were Santa's duties to be outlined and analyzed, just what salary might he command, were he to be so inclined as to seek out or accept financial reward?
Based on work duties alone and minus the miracles, Santa would be entitled to an annual salary of $137,795, according to calculations from Insure.com, a California-based consumer insurance information site, which matched his various roles with Bureau of Labor Statistics hourly wage data.
That included his jobs as manufacturing executive -- industrial engineer in labor lingo -- which would have garnered him $114,937 annually; professional shopper, $1,933; labor relations specialist for elf-related work squabbles, $4,931; and investigator into questions of naughtiness and niceness, $733.
Even with a 2 percent increase over last year's Santa pay index, the figure does "make him seem really underpaid," said Amy Danise, editorial director at Insure.com. Just think of all the anticipation over that big night and the joy the morning after, she said.
Indeed, a Long Island-based compensation consultant calculated Santa's hypothetical market value at $1.4 million, annual salary only, as the thought of Santa needing an incentive bonus, is, well, ridiculous.
Based on salary alone, that would put Santa at No. 3 on Newsday's list of top paid Long Island nonprofit executives, a ranking that looks at mostly 2010 base pay plus bonus and incentives. He would rank right after the chief executive of North Shore Long Island Jewish Health Care and the medical school chairman of North Shore University Hospital, based on 2010 data.
In fact, "Santa is priceless," said Ted Turnasella, principal consultant for Comp-unications, West Islip. He is "an original, the only one," so there can be no real market rate for him.
Still, Turnasella said he thinks he's come up with a fair value for hiring someone with the same skills, apart from the hocus-pocus, to serve as chief executive of a $15 billion nonprofit toy manufacturing company. (Though non-Santa candidates would likely require bonuses, putting total compensation at $2.8 million, he said.)
Anyone who wants to quibble with his calculation -- or make fun -- can "take it up with Santa," he said.