The Christmas freeze and dash

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Evil, thy names are Santa... and mommy.

When the girl was barely a year old, we zipped her into a cozy festive sleeper and hauled her to the local drug store/candy store (yeah, I get the irony) where Santa makes a yearly pre-Christmas appearance.

I’m not proud of getting sucked into the holiday frenzy. I blame flashy Christmas lights. I think they hypnotize me. That, and the fact that I don't want my daughter to grow up and find herself searching for non-existent photos of "fun" family traditions, motivated me to stand in a line up, surrounded by farting children, greeting cards, Jelly Bellys and Tylenol PM - the latter of which I required many of later that night.

The crowd consisted of several parent/grandparent types with all manner of children. Some were on year three of four of the Santa experience and as such, knew what to expect. Others, like our Jannique had no clue what they were in for.

She watched in fascination (or more likely fear) as one baby, toddler and preschooler after another sat on the red clad lap of a local marine biologist/bagpiper named Art.

Still, so far, so good.
Then it was our turn.

For all other kids present that night, Santa was a rock star. They swarmed to him like tweens to Beiber. But not our girl.

Still, I attempted to set her on the strange man's lap as I smiled like a freakshow.

Worst mother ever.

That was two years ago.

Last year, we were at the mall near Christmastime, when those damn lights got to me again. "Do you want to see Santa?" I asked my two year old. "Noooooooo mommy!"

Something made me listen to her. It might have been Geoff saying, "Quick Jan, you grab crazy mommy and I'll drag her back to the car."

But this year was different. For one thing - no pjs.

Also, this year,  the daughter made a request that I promised to heed (and not only because Geoff and Jan made me), "I just want to see him mommy, I don't want to sit on him."

See him we did.
Once again we waited in line at the drug store/candy store, surrounded by the smells of scented candles, chocolates, pharmaceuticals and farts. Every few minutes, my girl asked to be hoisted up to catch a glimpse of Santa. Each time she spotted him, she squirmed and screeched with excitement. Forty-five minutes later, she got a close-up view.
Curious but cautious and wearing pink boots because, "Santa likes pink."
And here, for you now is our kid's Christmas photo with Santa, 2011. Because this is as close as we came before she turned and high tailed it out of there.

No caption requried.
What wasn't caught on film, was Santa getting up to follow us with a bag of candy. A kind gesture on his part... one I feared might give my daughter nightmares for years to come. It did screw with her equilibrium but we still all got out - alive - and all was well when the littlest one realized that Santa had given her a lollipop. Apparently, my girl can be bought.

Later, in the car, she surprised us all by saying, "I love Santa". So there you have it. No harm, no foul and we have holiday photos to look back on and laugh (or maybe cry).

No, really.


  1. Same here with Annie and Dave. Dave never did sit on Santa's lap. Anne finally agreed to when she was almost 4 years old. I took a bus to downtown Philly to see Santa at the "Victorian Village," an annual big deal at the big Wanamaker Department store. Stood in a curved line for an hour (with elves entertaining us...ala David Sedaris' Christmas Elf experience). Finally got to Santa and Anne sat there. We then got back on the bus for the 30 minute ride home. Ten minutes into the ride, on the very crowded bus, Anne said she didn't feel well and then barfed all over me. I mean alot of throw up (including bits of candy canes the elves had given her). There we sat covered in vomit for 20 more minutes, people leaning away from us. After we got home Anne said, "Mommy, it's no fun being sick on a bus."


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