I cannot be the only one…who has noticed how much better the “mall” Santa's are looking lately, gone are the days of red polyester suits, cotton masquerading as fur, and those weird shiny angel hair beards, the current Santa’s are bringing it. Although, even with Santa's modern make-over, the kids standing in the crowded lines, between the red crushed velvet ropes, have the same terror in their eyes I remember from my time as a kid waiting to step up to Santa's throne.
While queuing up to say hello to Santa at our big town's version of a small town Christmas festival, I noticed my Sonny Boy and his two cousins slowly backing up out of the line, hoping us parents wouldn’t notice. While watching this gradual moonwalk perpetrated by the young boys of our family, I saw that it wasn’t only our boys that were apprehensive about greeting Santa, the other children looked worried as well. I saw their little chubby cheeked faces with looks of horror on them, children holding onto their parent's pant legs as though they could be blown away by a hurricane at any minute, and I could tell these kids wish they were doing anything other than waiting for Santa. That's when I heard the familiar sounds of bargaining chips being pulled out of desperate parents pockets, “If you don’t tell Santa what you want for Christmas how will he know what to bring you,” and the old standby, “If you’ll sit with Santa we can get an ice cream afterwards." I started to think what a strange situation the Santa visit is, how could my Sonny Boy, who never stops telling me about all the toys he wants, suddenly clam up and want to bury himself in the sand when face to face with the man in the big red suit?
I do have to admit the peculiar duality that exist in the act of sitting on Santa’s lap, year round I preach "stranger danger"to Sonny Boy, I never make him show affection to people if he is not comfortable with it, and I always tell him to trust his gut instinct if he isn't sure what to do in a situation. Then here we are, one time a year, trying to force him to sit on this fur clad, long beard wearing, giant belt buckled man's lap, and whisper what it is he wants for Christmas into this man's ear...it is perplexing. Thankfully, after much coaxing I got Sonny Boy up on the steps to Santa's platform, where he stood a safe two feet away from Old St. Nick, and managed to get a couple of great pictures (of course, as soon as the flash bulb off so was Sonny Boy, back to his spot behind my legs).