Saturday, December 13, 2008

Santa Claus is not scary - or shouldn't be

I had my first photo with Santa at age 26. The Art Club at the school where I was teaching held a fund raiser during lunch. A hefty black football player dressed up as Santa and they took Polaroids of people sitting on his lap for $5.00. I couldn't wait. I love that picture!!

I asked my mom why she never took me and Sister to have our pictures made with Santa. She said, "Well, you all were never interested." She was right. I remember seeing Santa at the mall when I was a kid and I was too shy to go see Santa. I thought it was cool lots of kids went to see him and maybe even wished I was brave enough to go, too. But, I didn't really want to.

Every year I see some one's Christmas card photo with a crying kid on it - and recently got an e-mail forward with 15 pictures of terrified kids on various Santas' laps. I don't understand why parents make their children go sit on a stranger's lap when they don't want to. I understand making them brush their teeth or making them say please, but going to visit Santa? I really just don't get it.

We took Matt and Drew to the local fire station last weekend for an open house. It was a day of fire safety demonstrations, refreshmants and Santa was there. At first I asked if they wanted to talk to Santa and they said no. We went outside and learned how to use a fire extinguisher and how to stay safe around an oven. We got plastic fire helmets and watched some firefighters go up the ladder and come down on a rope. Then I asked if they wanted to talk to Santa again and they said yes. So we got in line and they waited and they went up and talked to him a minute and posed for the photo and they were fine. Well, Drew had a funny look on his face, like, "Who is this and why am I here?" But no one was scared. If they had balked or cried or looked scared I would not have pushed it. I didn't want them to do it for me - only for them if they wanted to.

I refuse to force my boys to visit Santa if they don't want to. It is not worth it just because I want a cute picture. A picture of them scared and bawling is neither cute nor a nice memory. Christmas is not about selfishness.

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