We took Tornado E when he was five months old. There was no line. My mom insisted. That’s why we went.
The next year we were given tickets to a Christmas train ride with a Santa visit that was only for OC Girl Scouts. A neighbor gave them to us because her troop organized it. How could we disappoint her daughter who loved Tornado E?
The year after we nearly got away without one Santa visit. But as we walked through one of the neighborhoods where every house is strewed with lights and people walk around looking at the huge electric bills, we spotted a “real” Santa sitting in one of the yards with some young, cute (I’m married with two kids, not dead) Marines collecting Toys for Tots.
The year after that I was too busy with Christmas and the debating over moving to worry about Santa. My uncle dressed up as Santa for the Christmas Eve party. My dear, brave, social Tornado E ran for cover, too scared to come out. Maybe not going to see Santa was a good thing.
Last year we just never got around to it. I’m such an awesome parent. My uncle dressed up as Santa again. This time he bribed my boys over with presents. Once they noticed he had bells on his buckle, they liked him well enough. Tornado E showed his own Santa costume.
A couple of weeks ago, one of the kindergartners told Tornado E about the mall Santa. And I was doomed. Luckily one of the mothers came to my aid and asked if I wanted to go together. After many dropped plans due to sickness, we went today. While I was on time (HOLY CRAP!), she ran late, which was fine. The kids danced around with each other, glad to be together, trying to get a glimpse of Santa. After making their Christmas wishes, releasing snow into the air, and testing the naughty-or-nice machine (they came out nice which just means Santa is as forgiving as God), they saw Santa. My boys just stood there. As a helped lifted Tornado S onto Santa’s lap, I whispered, “Tell Santa what you want.” My shy Tornado S launched into a monologue of toddler-accented list of toys. Then it was Tornado E’s turn, who asked for a Pillow Pet and Blizzard maker. Tornado A didn’t know what to think as he stared at Santa. The picture came out nice, and then we added the other two kids. It took 45 minutes. And I was thankful that Tornado A was a happy baby without a morning nap. Oh, and that there was no incidents to mark this as the last year we could visit Santa at the mall.
Then again, maybe that would have been a good thing.