Always one to show empathy and to respect the developmental needs and dignity of my children, here I am, four Christmases ago, with my firstborn ever-so-gently encouraging her to cozy up with Santa. Never mind the absolute terror in her eyes. Never mind that on any other day I would never dream of plopping my precious progeny on the lap of any stranger. Never mind that this stranger happens to be wearing a big red suit, foreboding, black boots, and an impressive white mane and has excessive facial hair.
C’mon, sweet girl, smile! Everyone loves jolly, old St. Nick. Please be joyful as I capture this moment of abandonment when I leave you in the hands of a stranger!
I’m happy to report that for the past two years this same child has asked to go see Santa Claus, but the baby and 2-year-old remain wary, and that’s fine by me. What a ridiculous silly tradition it is anyway, sifting through the throngs of people at the mall only to pray your child won’t dissolve into tears or become completely tongue-tied at the sight of an old, hairy man in a red suit.
Ah, but I won’t judge you if you, too, find yourself campaigning for the perfect picture with Kris Kringle with the ruthlessness and savvy of a lobbyist on Capitol Hill. I did it once, too, and honestly, I’m awfully glad I did because you have to admit: These pictures are priceless.