Thursday, December 22, 2005

On the Job Training-Motherhood 9 - Santa, Inc.

Santa, Inc.

It's that time of year - Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

~My Story of Mall Santas~
I remember being 8 months pregnant at the mall during Christmas and looking at the families lined up to see Santa. I was touched -- Oh my God, next year at this time, I will have my own child to take to the mall at Christmas time. I felt warm and tingly with the Christmas spirit.

I walked around the mall and saw cranky kids in strollers, shoes flying, mothers exhausted. And, I thought - oh my God, next year at this time, I will have my own child to take to the mall at Christmas time!! OK, now I'm scared.

The first year I took her to see Santa, she cried. The Santa was very amiable, and he asked me to sit with her, so we have a nice picture of the three of us. Yeah.

Fortunately, since then, it's been great. She enjoys talking to Santa, like last year at 3:
"Where's Rudolph?" she asked.

"He's on the roof. You can hear them."


He handed her a storybook on the way out. And, she always referred to it as the book Santa gave her.

This year, someone asked her if she wrote her letter to Santa with the toys she wants. "No. I'll tell him when I see him at the mall." she said matter-of-factly.

On a side note, the Santa at our mall has always been very authentic looking. Nice face and real beard. It's been the same fellow too, so it actually nails the image of Santa - kids recognize faces and aren't necessarily fooled by the white beard.

~Waiting for Claus~
That day, she got dressed up and we went to the mall. My husband and his brother said they were going to save our spot in line while we returned something. When we came to the center, they were not there - and Santa was on break. So, we just stood in the end of the line around 5:45 pm.

In line was a mother having a breakdown while scolding her son. The boy was holding her ankles while she tried to walk away (as a punishment for misbehaving) and she just put her face in her hands. We all looked sympathetically her way. In another 10 minutes he was quietly in line holding her.

Behind me was a baby who was attracted to my head and the father would apologize. In front were picture perfect two little girls. Mine was waiting quietly as well. I asked her what she's going to ask for, and she smiled and said "It's a secret!"

The line had snaked out of the designated North Pole area and into the main throughway of the mall. People excused themselves to break the line to pass. Countless number of times I had to skirt out of the way and pull my daughter aside. It was one thing to move for teen girls, families with strollers and the general shopping public, but I had to laugh when a few mall employees were pushing dump-carts. Of course, come on through!

When people saw the line, the most common comment I heard was "Thank God those days are over for us!" Yes, that's very nice of you to mention that.

A boy came running, "Santa's back!". It was about 6pm. Now, we just had to wait for the line to move.

Then my husband waved to me -- he had secured a spot up front! Apparently, he had recognized someone in line earlier and asked him to hold our spot while he disappeared for coffee. How did I know?

Regardless, we jumped forward and got in line. This strategic move must have cut a good half hour out. We had our digital camera ready, and started fussing with A's hair.

As we approached the entrance, a cheery staff person said we had to buy a photo package, the lowest being $19.99. We were stunned. Does everyone waiting in line know this? She said signs are posted up front. However, how fair is this to people at the end of the line who are waiting and do not know?

We pointed out that we took pictures in the past without being obligated to buy. She duly pointed out that they were a new company managing the Santa visit.

This bothered me so much - trying to make money off a targetted and captured audience. This is like Disney selling the $8 popcorn tubs at the ice shows. Parents of kids are vulnerable lot - willing to cede to anything to avoid a public tantrum or social pressures.

~The Visit~
Annika climbed into Santa's lap for the picture. Given this is a new Santa company, I was surprised the kids didn't get a small takeaway - i.e., story book, coloring book, etc.

After he took her down, we took her hand toward us, but she ran back to talk. He leaned forward and put his hand on the small of her back, while she said something to him. I let it be a private conversation as she had wanted. Santa nodded and said something to her.

She came forward, bursting with giggles. I asked her what did you ask him.

"For a Barbie doll!" More specifically, her obsession is with the "Princess Annika" doll from "Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus" movie.

~Fa La La La La~
I suppose I have only 2-3 more years of this and I can just shush after that about the lines, the commercialism and general head ache of mall santa visits.

I having a feeling I'll be in the minority of parents who sigh wistfully, "Those days are over for us."


Anonymous said...

That must have been adorable!
I hope Santa brought your daughter a barbie.

Green Lime said...

I had tears rolling down from laughing, I can picture this all. I shared this story with Neil. He laughed too.

I had the pleasure of seeing "Polar Express" on the plane (w/o the headsets) and I finally got to see the "bell" that Santa left for the character. Same bell that Ms. Annika toted around all weekend to show me. Now I get it.

Since my days of standing in line are not far behind...I suppose I shouldn't laugh.