The Christmas freeze and dash

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

When my daughter 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. 
This - and the fact that I don't want my kiddo 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 Bellies and Tylenol PM.

The crowd consisted of several parent/grandparent types with all manner of little ones. Some were on year 3 or 4 of the Santa experience and as such, knew what to expect. Others, like our girl had no clue what they were in for.

She watched in fascination (fear) as one baby, toddler and preschooler after another sat on the lap of a local marine biologist/bagpiper named Art who had graciously agreed to squeeze himself into a red velour suit for the occasion.

Then, it was our turn.

For all the other kids present that night, Santa was a rock star and they swarmed around him like moths to a flame. But not our girl.

As we approached the jolly old elf, my wee child shot him a look that said, "Um, NOPE". And then, she burst into tears because, why wouldn't she? I mean, what the hell was I thinking?

A year later, we were in the mall near Christmastime, when the twinkly lights got to me again.

"Do you want to see Santa?" I asked my two year old who replied, "Noooooooo mommy!" before running behind my husband.

Something made me listen to her. (It might have been my husband.)

But the year she turned four was different because that was the year she made a request to see - but not get too close to - Santa.
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 her wish.

Three feet is as close as we came before she got the heck out of there. 

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.

Later, in the car, she surprised us all by saying, "I love Santa".

Fast forward to today... My now nine year old (who still wants to, but no longer really believes in, the Big Guy), asks to visit with him every Christmas and has done so since the infamous lollipop incident, which means we now have loads of holiday photos for her to look back on once she grows up.

No harm, no foul.

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."


Whaddya think?