“That’s ok, Mom, maybe next year.”
So said Santa on our Santa Visit 2009 Attempt #3. But let’s backtrack, shall we?
When Black Friday came, the kids and I were at the mall for an all-day shopping and fun adventure. Many years ago, way before I got married and had kids, a girlfriend and I would get up at the crack of dawn on Black Friday and shop until the late hours of the night, only stopping for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When we finally arrived home, the car was packed to the rafters with our finds, and we were beyond weary, but the shopping was done and we seriously had a blast. This year, Nick asked what Black Friday was and I filled him in. He thought heading out and spending the day shopping would be fun, and, quite honestly, I did too. We had a ton of fun, only stopping for a mid-afternoon nap for Madeline. I do believe we have stumbled on a new tradition.
So anyway, when we went back out for our second round that day, we stopped at the mall to take in the holiday decorations and festivities. We thought we’d take a peek at Santa and see how long the line was. Two people! The mall was completely packed, so I don’t know why we got off with no line at Santa, but I’ll take it. While we waited our turn, the kids checked out the decorated trees and holiday splendor in Santa’s court. Once it was our turn, Madeline burst into tears. She wouldn’t go anywhere near Santa.
“What about if Nick holds you?”
“What about if Mommy holds you?”
“Can you stand near Nick?”
She then pointed to the 17-year-old high school student working the photos.
“She can hold you?”
Madeline nodded emphatically.
I have no idea what kind of instant connection she had with her, but I shook my head. I smiled at the girl, who was laughing, and said “I hope you understand, but you can’t be in our family picture.” Of course that wouldn’t work.
Madeline wasn’t giving an inch, so my fee for the first round of Santa’s picture was with Nick only. Nick knows that this mall Santa isn’t the real Santa, so I was a little bummed that it was costing me, and wouldn’t even have both kids in the picture. I have a friend who has a four-year-old son and every year up until this year, their Christmas picture has included their son on Santa’s lap … in tears. I would have been fine with a crying picture! No such luck here. Missed Santa Visit Opportunity 2009.
Flash forward two weeks later, and we’re at Nick’s school for a Santa lunch. We’re at our table, coloring pictures, eating food and just having fun, when the kids running the luncheon announce that Santa has arrived and is coming to listen to everyone’s wish lists. The bells started jingling. Madeline burst into tears. Just at the mere mention of Santa. He hadn’t even entered the room yet. Nick, still knowing this wasn’t the real Santa, got in line. Sat on his lap. Gave his wish list. Got his picture taken. $5 donation to the school. And no Madeline. Not even close. Missed Santa Visit 2009 Opportunity #2.
A week or so ago, we made our way to a local Santa in town. A Santa that Nick knows full well is the real deal. It is the same guy every year, the same deep belly laugh, the same soft twinkling eyes, the same happy face. I love this Santa. Last year was the first year we missed visiting him and I still beat myself up over it. Knowing that we were going to see him this time, I had been coaching Madeline in preparation for a more successful Santa Visit 2009 Opportunity.
“What does Santa bring you?”
“Will you sit with Santa so Mommy can take a picture?”
Yes. Ka. *That’s what she calls Nick.
“Yes, with Nick. Just one picture, ok?”
“Yes, you can say cheese, and then Santa will give you a candy cane.”
She nodded happily, the thoughts of toys and candy making it all the sudden much more bearable. We went over it many times over the days leading up to it, and I thought we were good.
We got to Santa’s place and the weather was blustery cold and wet. We waited outside, and the kids watched the family before us sit with Santa and rattle off their list. All was fine. I held my breath.
We stepped inside the small building when it was our turn, and the bottom lip started trembling. The tears started flowing. And Miss Madeline was having no part of it, thankyouverymuch.
Wouldn’t go near him. Even with Nick or I holding her.
“That’s ok, Mom, maybe next year,” Santa said to me. Missed Santa Visit Opportunity #3.
Tonight we got together with friends, and stopped to see the same Santa again, and all day I gently reinforced that Santa is good. That he’s happy. That we like him. Just one stinkin’ picture! Even a crying one!
We pulled up outside and I hear “toys!” and “candy!” from the backseat. Again, we waited outside for our turn. A few minutes later, we stepped inside, I shut the door, and the bottom lip started trembling. I hate that she’s scared of him, but it’s just too cute to see her when she starts to crumple.
Nick went first, again, going over his list to make sure Santa knew what he wanted. There might have even been an addition from the last visit. Madeline wouldn’t get near him. Not even with Nick. But this time she let me get close to Santa while holding her. The other little girl we were with was the same way. She didn’t want to get anywhere near him, but would get close while I held her. So I got my picture, holding a little girl on each hip, and as we left, each one blew him a kiss and gave him a high-five. Progress!
Bring it, 2010, we just might be ready for you! Or then again, maybe not.