Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Santa Visits ... One, Two and That's It!

A huge part of the Christmas holidays for little boys and girls everywhere is the annual visit to see Santa. Usually at Christmas time, we make a few trips to visit Santa. There are always at least a couple of really fun Christmas events around town and Santa is usually present at them, which is why there are usually multiple visits involved.

This year JJ is really questioning the true identify of Santa as well as the role his “Santa Helpers” play in the whole scheme of Christmas. (“Santa Helpers” being the Santa’s who he goes to see at stores etc.) He is really questioning why they all look so different and where they all come from etc. And he’s not really loving my vague kind of answers. I told him that no-one ever gets to meet the “real” Santa – but assured him that the “Santa Helpers” diligently report back all the information that they gather from meeting with girls and boys all over the world - directly to the Real Santa himself. I think he is secretly hoping that maybe one of the Santa’s that cross our path will really be the real, genuine Santa Claus. So, with all those thought swirling around in his overactive brain, we went off for our first visit to Santa.

The boys were super excited, and in a very fortunate turn of events, it turns out I had the time wrong, and so we arrived at our destination a few minutes early. JJ could not believe that we were the first ones in line. In fact, that could have been his Christmas present right there, he was so happy. Sadly we are never early to anything, and mostly we are very, very late. It’s so bad that I have got to the point at which I don’t consider myself late if I am within two hours of the start time. So to be the first kids there to see Santa, probably ended up being even more exciting than the actual visit with Santa!

Since we were a few minutes early, Santa wasn’t quite ready, and after a minute or two he appeared from a back room and sat on the red velvet covered bench that had been prepared for him. The kids sat on his lap and Santa asked them what their names were and what they wanted for Christmas while the lady from the store and I snapped some photographs. It was pretty short and sweet – not a very memorable experience, or so I thought.

As we were walking back towards the car, JJ was very quiet and after we drove off, he told me (with just a teeny tinge of disappointment in his voice) that he could give me three good reasons why that was NOT the real Santa. Both amused and curious, I asked him what those three reasons might be.

He replied that firstly, the real Santa knows every boy and girl’s name and because that Santa had to ask him for his name, he clearly wasn’t the real Santa. Reason number two involved Santa’s beard. It seems that this Santa’s beard was made of yarn, underneath which was a “scraggly beard just like when Dad hasn’t shaved in a few days.” This was obviously quite unacceptable. The last reason was related with much eye rolling as he told me quite disapprovingly, that the REAL Santa does NOT travel with his mom. Surprised, I asked him why on earth he thought that Santa’s mom was there. The answer: “because Santa kept calling the lady who was taking the photographs ‘mom.’” So, since his mother was there– he was NOT the real Santa!

While all of this went straight over the heads of the younger two kids, JJ’s questioning and skeptical brain was in super evaluation mode during the visit, and this Santa had not passed the test! Here’s hoping the next Santa on the calendar fares a little better in the eyes of a skeptical seven year old.

* * * * * * * * * * *
Our second visit to Santa took place at our town’s annual tree lighting ceremony. It seemed to go a little bit better, maybe because it took place at the tail end of a fun evening that included strolling carolers filling the air with Christmas Carols; little indoor mini-markets and the kids playing in the snow with their friends as they waited for the Christmas Tree lights to be turned on.

We stopped in to see Santa at the end of the celebrations. The older kids appeared pretty ambivalent about the visit - probably because Rocky had been very “challenging” for a good hour before we left the house and after multiple threats reminding him that Santa was watching his every move, I think he was a tad nervous about actually sitting on his lap and having to tell Santa that he was a good boy.

JJ, at least, didn’t have to worry about his behavior, but it seems like he has resigned himself to the fact that this whole Santa Helper thing is just a wee bit confusing and that there is something going on that he just can’t put his finger on. With this frame of mind, he approached Santa with a very watchful countenance about him.

Bubs, on the other hand, was about as excited as he could be. While most one year olds are terrified of Santa, Bubs could barely contain himself with excitement as he had to wait for a very apprehensive little girl who was ahead of him in line, and who, when it was her turn, stood about three feet away from Santa and stared at him in terror as her parents tried to prod and prompt her closer to the scary old man.

When it was finally our turn, Bubs ran up to Santa and gave him the biggest and longest hug ever!!! Well, maybe not ever…he L O V E S men. Whenever we are out and about and he is on the loose, if he spots a man – any man - he will run up to him and give him a huge hug around his legs and will then tug on his pants and try to have the person lift him up. Once in his arms, he will give him the biggest hug!

It is hilarious, but also kind of creepy because he has absolutely no discrimination as to who the person is – his sole criteria is that it is a male. The funny thing is that pretty much every male responds to him. He’s been held by every type of male, from completely normal looking dudes to down right scary looking possible gangsters and crack heads. It’s kind of embarrassing when I am very forcefully trying to remove my little Bub from questionable characters while he has them in a death grip and I am tugging and pulling while wielding a totally fake smile, thinking OMG what is this child doing?

Anyhoo, thankfully this Santa looked like he had at least showered somewhat recently and appeared as normal as a grown man dressed up in a Santa suit can look. So once the Hug was over, my little Bubs climbed onto Santa’s lap and smiled and stared at him, absolutely fascinated, while the other kids joined him on Santa’s lap. This Santa was not a man of many words, which was probably the best case scenario for JJ since every time the last Santa opened his mouth, it added to JJ’s list of possible Santa Fakedom. In this vein, I tried to keep the visit brief and since Santa wasn’t exactly yapping his head off, we were out of there before JJ’s brain could start dissecting Santa’s every move.

Note the way that JJ is looking Santa up and down....if I can help it, I think we will quit while we are somewhat ahead and that will be our last visit to Santa for this year…

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