Over the past five Christmases of Norah’s life, she has experienced most major holiday traditions multiple times – decorating the tree, driving to see lights, eating all the sugar ever, watching Elf and laughing at Will Ferrel eating all the sugar ever, opening gobs of presents, and even helping select toys and gifts for the children and families in need that we choose to give to. But one rite of Christmas passage managed to evade her for those first few years of seasonal sensation – a proper sit on Santa’s lap. This year, there was no escape.
I’ll go ahead and take partial blame for four Christmases worth of Santa negligence. There are many aspects of the conventional Kris Kringle photo op that rate high on my list of aversions – crowds, lines, obligation, stupid people, being forced to pay for something I could do myself. There’s just no magic in it when you have to spend 20 plus minutes single-file-sandwiched between the family who dressed all four kids in the same exact outfit and the screaming toddler who most definitely is not going to smile for the camera, only to be quickly ushered up to Santa so he can ask for the 897th time that day “what do you want for Christmas?” before giving my kids yet another piece of holiday candy as they’re hurried along and I hand over 30 bucks for 10 different sizes of the same photo. Add to that the giant signs everywhere that say “NO PHOTOS WITH YOUR OWN DEVICE” and let me tell you how few minutes I lasted in said line this year before saying fuck this, let’s go play somewhere and wave at Santa on the way out. Follow up question: why if I’m forced to spend $30 on your photo package can I not also take my own photo with my own camera or phone? Preposterous. I promise I asked Norah if it was okay before fleeing the line. I may be scroogey, but I can usually summon enough patience if it’s something that will make my kids super happy. I would also like to note that prior to last Christmas, Norah was actually terrified of the jolly old man, and even last year she stayed an arm’s length away at her preschool event when sharing with him her wishes and wants. So my crazy isn’t entirely responsible (for once).
But this year I did at least start to wait in that line because it seemed like the right thing to do – the thing my kids would enjoy experiencing and my relatives would enjoy seeing a picture of and my 50 year old self would enjoy looking back on. Despite how quickly I accepted defeat and deserted that whole display, I was marginally bummed about making it through another Christmas sans Santa snappy. I spent a good bit of mental space that day considering what other opportunities might arise before the big day for us to give it another go and nothing brilliant or appealing came to mind. Then we went to Walmart.
Being that shopping at Walmart ranks right up there with the aforementioned seeing Santa fiasco (recall: crowds, lines, stupid people) I assure you that the discount giant was far from my thoughts when brainstorming how to achieve what we failed to do at the mall. I avoid Walmart like the plague and was only there that day because I had a long list of things to get for the family we sponsored and Target was too far away. So imagine my surprise when my mom came back to us from the Christmas section to whisper in my ear “Santa’s here. There’s no line. It’s free.” I can’t say I jumped with excitement, because well, it’s Walmart, and I can’t help but judge anything associated with it, but at the same time, who am I to pass up free Santa? Off we went to find the man in red, and there in the middle of the store he sat on a pleather couch. There was only one set of youngins in front of us, and then came our turn for a kind old lady to capture the moment for us to pick up 5-10 minutes later from the photo lab for absolutely no cost whatsoever (other than maybe some pride and dignity, but that stuff’s overrated anyway!).
I now have a super cute 5×7 print of both my babes smiling adorably with old Saint Nick, but since I haven’t had the chance to scan that, here’s the one I took with my phone (rebel!) – Santa, possibly exhausted by the length of it, has moved on from listening to Norah’s list to ask Crosby about his holiday hopes, but Norah doesn’t notice and continues to contemplate lest she forget anything. For someone who just last year was wary of even standing next to him, she has certainly taken strides to becoming completely comfortable detailing every last item she could ever want. In fact, there might be video of her talking to the preschool Santa at this year’s holiday party where his comment at the end of her long-winded list is “I hope you’ve been good this year because that’s A LOT of stuff.” Maybe.
T-minus eight hours to the Elder children spoil-a-thon! I’m kind of stupidly excited. They’re going to have such a time. Merry Christmas Eve! XO.