The other day while I was at Border's, waiting in line to purchase a few items (and use my amazing coupons), I became one of the suckers who makes an impulse purchase from the many, many enticing displays they put in the "waiting in line" area so you'll spend another $10 or $137 on more books/games/plastic bracelets. My purchase was a book called "Sketchy Santas". Of course I bought it, because a. I'm always up for a sarcastic book and b. it had the word "sketchy" in it. Basically this is a book about bad mall santas and contains numerous photographs of sketchy-looking Santas with highly distressed children. And while it's hilarious, I can't help but think - WHY?
Why do we take our kids to these horrible, fake-beard mall Santas and wait in line for hours to get a picture of them looking at best uncomfortable and at worst holy-shit-get-me-out-of-here-and-I-swear-I'll-never-wake-you-up-at-6-am terrified? Because I don't know about you, but I really don't want my lasting Christmas memories to include a series of photos of my child at different ages crying on the lap of a stranger. Sure, some kids actually LIKE these mall Santas and will willingly pose with a big smile, while they brush Santa's fake, plastic beard hair out of their faces. But most of the younger set will have spent hours in line, crying, whining and distressed, only to be placed on the lap of a stranger who smells like "beef and cheese" (apologies to Will Ferrell), only to realize, with terror, that their beloved parents, their absolute safety net, have abandoned them to a minute or two of sheer terror upon the lap of a strange man.
Don't we spend agonizing amounts of time and effort teaching our children to be wary of strangers? Would we let our children sit upon the lap of a homeless man downtown if he offered her a candy cane? I think not. So, why do we force this Santa "tradition" on our kids year after year (therapy, anyone?). We go through an agonizing day of "going to see Santa" which probably involves an expensive dress for the child, a bribe or two, lunch at an expensive mall venue, then the inevitable dragging of said child to the car to get home so she can nap, for the love of GOD!
Lucky for me, I never had to force this Santa "tradition" on my kids. I have but a small handful of fake Santa photos where the kids willingly posed with the jolly old elf, but for the most part, we saved Santa photos for the REAL DEAL. And we all know who that is.