IF I SEE Tim Allen playing Santa Claus one more time, I'm going to run screaming into the street.

I mean, seriously, how many times can we watch Tim reprise his unfunny role as Kriss Kringle? First of all, we all know Tim Allen is not fat. Second, we know he's not jolly. Not jolly enough to be Santa, anyway. In fact, none of the guys I've seen playing Santa is jolly enough for the role.

I don't care how many times they say, "Ho, ho ho!" The real Santa is way jollier than they are, and not just because he's friendly. Nope. Santa is jolly because he knows he's set for life.

Unlike most icons, Santa's got job security. He's not Dear Abby, Aunt Jemima, or Uncle Ben - all of whom were replaced by younger, hipper models when it was clear their 1950s looks had run their course. Santa doesn't have to upgrade, because, let's face it. Santa's fashion sense is timeless.

Where does Santa get his keen eye for the dramatic, you ask? I couldn't tell you. The truth is, no one knows when it became the height of fashion for old, fat dudes to wear black boots and red suits with white trim. We all know this, though - Santa's got swagga. More important, we know we'd better not pout, shout, cry or ask why he's wearing that crazy getup. None of us wants a lump of coal in our stocking, so we all kind of smile and go along with it, even as Santa makes us feel slightly uncomfortable in those extremely ugly clothes.

It's not just the threat of getting coal for Christmas, though. The fact of the matter is, Santa has a gang. That's right. All that hammering and sewing and stapling to assemble those toys in Santa's sweatshop has made his elves muscle-bound and cranky. The result? They're the finest fighting force on the planet. And if you get on Santa's bad side, they might roll up on you with reindeer, a sleigh and the same claw hammers they used to assemble that American Girl doll for your neighbor's kid.

How can Santa afford to be so ruthless? He's Santa! Who's gonna stop him? You? Me? I don't think so. Even if we could assemble the manpower it would take to rumble those elves, how would we get past Santa's intelligence operation? Huh? Need I remind you that Santa knows when you are sleeping? Did you forget that he knows when you're awake? As a matter of fact, he knows when you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness' sake.

Fortunately, we don't have to worry about taking Santa down, because Santa Claus is a really nice guy. He only occasionally sends the elves to exact retribution on the truly naughty. And on a personal note, he never uses his powers to catch me sneaking to my friend's neighborhood cafe to eat cholesterol sandwiches against my doctor's orders.

Santa's all right. That's why I can't stand seeing guys like Tim Allen trying to play him. The Santa I know is no comedian. He's a serious man on a serious mission to get toys to every boy and girl in the world. We have to respect him enough to say no to Tim Allen portrayals, even if it means turning the TV off for 10 straight days before Christmas.

Not everyone will agree with me. Some people don't like Santa. They despise him for getting a full salary to work one night a year. They resent him for not allowing that one misguided elf to stop making toys and become a dentist. To those people I say, "Stop hatin'."

And to the guy who really matters at this time of year, I say this: I want an iPad for Christmas, Santa. Make it happen, big guy. I've been really, really good.

Solomon Jones will sign his new novel, "The Last Confession," at Borders Books & Music, 2200 Wrangleboro Road, Mays Landing, NJ, today at 2 p.m. For information, call 609.407.1960