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Hunky Santa, one of the Beverly Center's two Santas (the other being traditional Santa), is one of those December occurrences that causes us to unhand our rolls of wrapping paper, throw the naughty/nice list over our shoulder and sigh. Yes, sigh. We sigh in part because the handsome gent who wins the crown -- or, in this case, red stocking cap -- of Hunky Santa is, of course, from-the-pages-of-a-magazine gorgeous. Gor-geous. As in, drop dead, pull out the camera, call your mother and tell her all about what you are looking at. Call your grandma, too.

But we also like the idea of Hunky. Don't get us wrong -- we love traditional Santa, too. But Hunky? He's really okay with who he is. He doesn't need to gorge on snowflake-shaped sugar cookies to find joy in the season. He keeps fit, for all those tailored but snuggly cardigans he'll be wearing throughout the winter. And he loves -- loves! -- for grownups to bound up and take a place on his knee while whispering their most secret wishes in his ear. Are there typically giggles and smiles, both from the lucky knee-sitter and Hunky? Of course. That's holiday magic.

Eli Wilhide, this year's Hunky Santa, was chosen after a major, much-ado search. Mr. Wilhide -- call him Hunky, if you so please -- has appeared on shows such as "CSI Miami," and will be making several charitable appearances during the Christmas season. He is so definitely making the nice list!

Hunky, who has been a festive fixture at the mall for eight years now, will be hearing wishes at the Beverly Center every Friday-Sunday through December 21; hours vary depending on day, so check the site.

The Beverly Center, 8500 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles

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