Visiting Santa

Adelaide now knows the word “Santa.” I’m not sure how I feel about this – similarly to how I feel about her knowing the word “Elmo.” She’s seen ornaments of Santa, representations of him in books, on signs, on wrapping paper under the tree, in decorated windows. We point and say “Santa,” and somehow this has caught on.

A few weeks ago, we went to the Christmas tree lighting in our neighborhood. Santa was there, and I wanted Tim to take a photo of Adelaide and me standing next to him. Although I had Adelaide in the carrier and she was nestled next to my chest and not even touching Santa, she cried. I knew this was not a good sign. She didn’t even want to be near him.

A couple of weeks later we took Adelaide to the Dickens Christmas Village at the Macy’s in Center City Philadelphia. (It’s actually quite cool, but possibly a little creepy for young children since it tells the story of a Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and that includes animatronic grim reaper types.) Anyway, at the end of the Dickens Village maze, children can sit on Santa’s lap. We weren’t there to see Santa, but since it was the afternoon on a weekday and there was no line, we thought we might just pop in to check out the scene. Santa said hi to Adelaide. She watched him suspiciously. Then he said “high five,” and held his gloved palm up toward her. Adelaide abruptly turned away and clung to me even more tightly.

Since then I’ve seen two or three different Santa photos of friends whose kids are around the same age as Adelaide. The kiddos are crying in all of them. I knew we would have a similar photo this year. Although I wasn’t looking forward to seeing her cry, I knew that when we went to Florida to see Tim’s parents for Christmas, we would make the trek to see Santa for the traditional photo op. Sure enough, our prediction held true. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. Adelaide wasn’t exactly scared of Santa. She was “familiar” with Santa by this point. We watched other kids sit on his lap having a good experience. She even waved to him from the sideline before we began our approach. But, just because she waved hello, that didn’t mean she wanted to sit on the guy’s lap. Adelaide is such a Mama’s girl these days and wants me to hold her so much; I joked to to Tim that she probably would have had a similar reaction had I given her to him and walked away.

Immediately after they snapped the photo, I picked her up and she waved good-bye to Santa without any prompting. She still cried for another few seconds, but just minutes later she was laughing and pointing at the poster of a dog (apparently there are certain days and times when you can bring your pets to get their photos taken with Santa.) Anyway, I made Tim take a few photos of Adelaide happily pointing to the dog to prove that we weren’t bad parents, that Adelaide wasn’t traumatized forever. If we were going to have a crying photo, at least we got a good one. As the woman working the Santa booth said as she handed us the photos, “that’s the best crying shot I’ve seen in a long time.”

This year’s photo is a far cry (no pun intended) from last year’s Santa picture.

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