Santa knows if the kids have been bad or good…but it seems the kids know if the family finances are bad or good as well and that knowledge is showing up in Santa’s lap.

As the economy remains weak, with continued high unemployment and lots of Americans with homes in foreclosure, store Santa’s are reporting that kids are asking them for less, aware of their families' struggles. Richard Holden, a North Carolina store Santa says he's even had kids asking for things like heat at home. In those situations, he'll tell them that Santa will do what he can, and will then try to let the parents know about agencies that might be able to help them.

Tim Connaghan, who runs the International University for Santa Claus in California, said the economy has become such an issue that he asked the 500 Santa’s they employ in an annual survey how to handle questions kids were asking about things like unemployed parents or having to move.

A suggested response would be something like telling the child, "Let's all hope your dad will find a new job," explaining, "Acknowledge the problem, given them a positive response and say, 'Santa loves you, too. Maybe I could get something special for you.' . . . The hope is that when the child leaves, he feels a little better."