This week’s Babble Voices Salon is a discussion of the Santa thing. You know, do you lie to your children about an invisible, all-knowing man who lives somewhere north of here, and who arbitrarily rewards and/or punishes them based on his own, mysterious standards of “good” and “bad?”
YOU BET YOUR SWEET ASS I DO.
But that’s not actually the main thing I want to discuss today. I really want to address the topic of Creepy Mall Santas Making Small Children Cry, something several of the salon panelists (salonists?) brought up.
While my own childhood experience with Santa was a typical, pleasant one — I believed sincerely when I was very young, then slowly sensed that it was something more like a game to play along with my parents, then had a late-stage NO NO I REALLY REALLY BELIEVE I SWEAR! phase where I tried to cling to one last shred of magic and deny that I totally knew better — there are several photos of my sitting on Santa’s lap and looking none too pleased about it. I’m pouting in one, looking deer-in-the-headlights in another, and I think there’s even one of my sheepish-looking mom holding me while I scream furiously mid-tantrum.
Santa, of course, looks drunk.
We never intended to make the Mall Santa photo a set-in-stone tradition: It just kinda happened. We were out shopping in 2005 with our newish little lump of a baby and thought it would be funny to see what happened if we stuck him on Santa’s lap.
Not much, it turns out. Noah looks bored and Santa, of course, looks drunk.
The next year we were at the same mall and realized the same drunk dude was playing Santa again.
Oh, jeez. That’s…actually pretty cute. AND THIS IS HOW THEY GET YOU. We’ve been slaves to the Mall Santa Photo-Op ever since.
I trust you can see the problem here, though. Despite dragging my children to the mall year after year, despite terrible lines and crowds and wait times that stretched straight on through nap time, and despite TEMPTING THE GODS BY DRESSING THEM IN MATCHING SWEATERS, FOR CHRIST’S SAKE…I do not yet own a single photo with a single crying or otherwise hilariously terrified child.
COME ON. There are THREE of you. I can’t ever remember a time when at least one of you WASN’T screaming over something. But then: Here, we’re going to stand in line for 40 minutes and then plop you on a stranger’s lap and order you to all face forward and smile on cue.
Somebody needs to lose their mind over the ridiculousness of this request, right? Somebody has to make me feel like I have, at last, fulfilled my duty as a parent to scar at least one of my children for life via a Mall Santa.
Well, I guess I could always try the Easter bunny.