Santa ’14

Author’s note: As has happened multiple times in the past, WordPress has neither saved nor published an entire post. Before I publish anything, I always “view” it first, so I can see how it will look after it’s posted (which is not to say I catch all the typos I might have made). This particular piece was fine. When I viewed it later, however, it was completely cut off after the second photo, and wasn’t saved at all after that. Full piece – to the best of my memory – is below.

To be clear, I know how it works. Santa’s busy, so the guys at the malls are just his helpers, but God bless ‘em. No, seriously; these guys get covered in who knows what substances, have to listen to screaming babies, and maintain a jolly attitude all day just so that your kid can have 60 seconds of Christmas joy. Or adorable Christmas terror.

Pictured: "F*ck Christmas terror."

Pictured: “F*ck Christmas terror.”

This year is the boys’ first Christmas, so naturally we took them to see Santa(‘s helper). At eight months old, they have absolutely no idea what anything in the world around them is, so there is a bit of silliness to standing in line (outside in the freezing cold in our case) to pay for a picture of confused or scared babies sitting with Santa when they don’t care and won’t remember.

The Santa we saw was at an open-air shopping center in nearby Kent, WA. The line was long (to me) and outside during an especially cold morning (I can’t stress that enough), but it moved fairly quickly.

And why is there always a kid in an aviator helmet in line?

And why is there always a kid in an aviator helmet in line?

The longest part was kids being unbundled (from being in the cold) and then rebundled (to return to the cold). Santa(‘s helper) was a good one, fat, real beard, jolly, pretty much all that I ask of my Santas(‘ helpers). The photography was provided by Styron’s Photography; I’d never heard of them, but they were nice to work with and we ended up liking the picture they picked as the “best”.

"We find the noises you are making at us interesting. We are looking at the camera as requested. We are good boys for you, mother."

“We find the noises you are making at us interesting. We are looking at the camera as requested. We are good boys for you, mother.”

The best, in our case, was our boys’ standard photo face, stoic and intrigued more by the photographer and camera than happy or interested in what’s going on around them. Even at home, they start doing something cute, we get a camera or phone, and they look at us like they’re posing for a Victorian oil portrait and not an iPhone photo of them gnawing on the cat’s tail.

A couple of weeks after our photo shoot, I was with the boys at M’s weekly physical therapy when I noticed that the medical building we were at was hosting a free photo op with Santa(‘s helper), so I figured we might as well make it a twofer.

We went through the very short (and inside, and warm) line, and as they were used to dealing with children with sensory processing disorders and what have you, they were very careful to have me back up with the boys and we all used nice calm voices. The boys were, as always, good public babies.

As soon as I backed away, the three teenage girls in elf costumes and the two adult women who seemed to be running the show dispensed with all that sensory sensitivity b.s. and began making goo-goo noises and shaking leather strips of giant jingle bells in an attempt to get the boys to look at the camera.

The stranger’s lap and the five – no kidding, five – strange adults making lots of new, odd, loud noises resulted in two babies who were not very happy. The good news is that we got the classic “crying baby” picture, they got to keep those stuffed polar bears, and it was the first time one of them (M) reached out in a “save me Daddy” manner, so I’m chalking it up as a win.

"That's easy for you to say."

“That’s easy for you to say.”

Although I knew we were going to do the pictures no matter what, I went into the Santa(‘s helper) thing with out much interest. Like I said, the babies don’t even get any enjoyment out of it, so why go through the hassle? In the end though, I’m glad we followed the herd and got the “infant with Santa(‘s helper)” picture. Like a lot of the “they’re just babies so who cares” stuff K likes to do, I imagine that I’ll enjoy it in hindsight more and more the further away I get from it.


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