It started on Facebook before it started in real life. Status updates would announce that someone was taking some child to see Santa at some mall or whatever. Images of children immobilized by fear, or scream-crying hysterically, or sleeping, or (very rarely) smiling in the lap of a beleaguered-looking man began to flood my newsfeed.
"How terrible," I'd think, "That looks like the least-fun thing ever." Then I'd go on with my day.
But then it crept into conversations.
"Are you just about ready for Baby's First Christmas?" someone would not-really ask. I have decided this is on par with the question of "Is it hot enough for ya?" in the summertime. I'm not really required to answer. I just have to smile and offer up an equally banal phrase like "Oh, we're gettin' there."
And then they would shock me out of my social vagaries-induced stupor. "Has she been to see Santa?"
My Evelyn? Who is clingy? Who tends to be tired or fussy at inopportune times--like anytime I have out a camera? This year? This squirmy child who goes between stealing glasses from strangers to refusing to let relatives hold her?
The answer to all of these questions was apparently "Yes."
Yes, people thought I would go to the mall, wait in line, and then pay money to foist my child off onto a stranger while she screamed in terror, and then treasure the photograph of the ordeal forever.
Oh. Cool social conventions, you guys.
Of all the holiday traditions I'd dreamed of celebrating with my child, this one never took up much space in my brain. Maybe when she was old enough to have a gift request, or to actually want to meet Santa, we would. But not this year.
But, but....meeting Santa! It's apparently something you do! Or whatever! I worried I was being a laidback-to-the-point-of-negligent parent again. Then Cody said he didn't care about Evelyn meeting Santa either and we decided that agreeing on the matter meant we were right and this wasn't a crucial Christmas activity.
I read that Santa would be a mere 2 blocks from home on Saturday and that photographs would be free as long as you brought your own camera.
When Santa gets that close to your house during such a busy time for him, it would be rude to not go say 'hi'.
What could it hurt to go by and just look at him?
On Saturday morning, after washing some clothes and getting dressed and walking around a little and just generally doing things on our own time, Evelyn and I went to the trolley (because that's just how they do things around here) to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus. I wore Evelyn in the wrap, tight against my chest. We stood in a very short line and she stared at the signs on the walls, the lights on the windows, and the little boy behind us wearing an owl hat.
When it was her turn, they were thrilled to meet us. They told Evelyn she had a very pretty name, and very blue eyes. I tried to pass her to Santa once and she pulled back. So I kept holding her. We talked for another minute, and then tried again.
|Yes, she had to be bribed with bright candy in a crinkly wrapper.|
|She is still looking at the little boy with the owl hat.|
|She is checking out Mrs. Claus.|
|And now the man himself.|
|And this one is just my favorite because I love it when she looks like a cartoon.|
That's right, folks! I took 5 adorable, non-blurry, non-screaming baby/Santa photos in natural light! And I love every one of them!
I feel like I won Mommy Christmas.
Well, she was happy to be passed back to me. She gave Santa a smile and then chewed on the wrapper of the candy cane for at least an hour because she liked the feeling of the cellophane on her little gums and the sound of the wrapper. Then she dropped it on the ground and I threw it away....and then noticed that the candy cane had somehow gotten wet and was oozing out red baby slobber, which had at some point run down part of my white and blue?/black?/gray? striped shirt. I have a nice pink line along the collar that I didn't bother to rinse or treat, and the shirt (some ten-dollar thing from Old Navy that I bought because nursing requires a wardrobe of button-up shirts and V-necks) is probably good and stained now.
I can probably cherish that forever, too.