Amazing what an otherwise caring, protective and nurturing parent will do in the efforts to create a Christmas card worth sharing. Every year, at nearly every mall across the world – there are hundreds of whining kids being forced to wait in a long line to get their shot to sit on Santa’s lap. Mom and dad have already committed the worst parenting fauxpaus by dressing them in itchy clothes that have been starched to perfection.
The girls are wearing big and bright bows that make them look like gaudy Christmas presents, tights that are always too tight, and shoes that shine but bind the toes. Little boys wearing suits or vests who constantly have mama spitting in their hair to try and tame the cowlick before they get to sit on Santa’s lap. And parents wonder, why in the world this whole photos with Santa thing is such a big ordeal.
Shouldn’t kids want to go and visit Santa? Or maybe they are just scared to death because all they have been hearing for the past few weeks is that, “Santa is watching them!” Or, if you don’t eat your vegetables, “Santa won’t bring you any presents!’ All of these idol threats sort of give kids the idea that Santa is not only a stalker, but also a hypocrite because by the looks of his belly, he hasn’t eaten a vegetable in decades. And then of course, there is the waiting. And the waiting. And the other screaming kids – which all in all creates a pretty stressful scene for a 3 year old.
Yet mom and dad are determined for their child to sit on Santa’s lap. To whisper the secrets that are supposed to stay between Santa and his children. Just so mom and dad can get a picture of the moment and preserve this life altering and often psychologically damaging event in the familial archives.
Funny, but so many of these pictures end up with Santa smiling, looking like he needs a heaping glass of spiked Egg Nog, while an otherwise adorable child is screaming their head off, face so red that it actually blends in with the red suit Santa is wearing. Then, you have those teenage elves, trying to earn a little extra money (who are getting their first real glimpse of why sexual abstinence is so important) standing near Santa who are trying to calm your kid down by enticing them with a miniature candy cane. Really? A candy cane? Something this traumatic should come with a bottle of wine for the parents and a battery-operated jeep or in ground swimming pool for the kids.
So honestly, why is this so important? Most people would never pay $20 for a single shot of their child, but in this situation – parents are shelling out $20 bills as if they are pennies. Has the annual Christmas card picture become so important in the world of keeping up with the Jones’ that parents are willing to sacrifice their child’s wellbeing? All their young life you have been warning them about strange men who ask them to come and sit on their lap, and today you are practically forcing them to do it. The poor kids are often wondering why they just can’t mail their letter to Santa like regular people.
Here’s the thing! If your child is excited about sitting with Santa, then you should go for it. But if your child is like the 87% of others who want to see him and snag a candy cane from a well-meaning elf, but want to forego the photos with Santa, creepy lap sitting and fake beard – then maybe you should consider that. After all, your screaming child who looks terrified isn’t going to make the best holiday photo. It might make people laugh a bit, but it won’t make them covet the beauty of your family. In fact, nobody else on your Christmas card sending list actually thinks your kids are that cute anyways!?
The best approach to the photos with Santa opportunity is to play it by ear. Stroll your kid by the big guy a time or two and actually ask them if they want to sit on his lap and tell him what they want for Christmas. If they seem hesitant, enjoy from afar and be glad you aren’t one of “those parents’ forcing their child to endure this sometimes frightening experience. If your child wants to do it, but then clams up like a wife on her wedding anniversary, let him be. Don’t be mad, or angry or frustrated. Hey, with Photoshop these days you can pretty much green screen your child to look like they are doing just about anything. Even sitting happily on Santa’s lap.
So take this as your fair warning. If you have planned an afternoon outing for your child to sit with December’s big man on campus, there is a good chance he or she might freak out totally. So don’t be surprised. In fact, you should be more surprised (and maybe a little bit worried) if your child has no fear of sitting on strange Santa’s lap for a picture!