Santa’s coming! Santa! I know him!

True confessions: I have never taken my children to a mall to “meet Santa”.  I’m going to really put myself out there for a moment and say that it has always seemed a little skeevy to me, to set my babies on this dressed-up stranger’s lap, this stranger masquerading as Santa, only to have them shriek in terror for the photographer elf.  This website, devoted to creepy Santa photos and terrified children, kind of kills me. 

Plus, it’s not even the REAL Santa!  Every time I see a photo of children with Santa, I think only of Buddy the Elf and his excitement to see Santa, followed by: You stink.  You smell like beef and cheese.  You don’t smell like Santa.  You sit on a throne of lies!  I also think of my husband, who figured out at age three or four the myth that is Santa by visiting more than one shopping mall in a day and seeing more than one Santa.  The gig is up, fat guy.

It’s a strange ritual, isn’t it?  The thought of going to the mall right now makes me hyperventilate, but the thought of going to the mall and standing in line for an hour with small children just so they can freak out on Santa’s lap?  Ca-razy.

I realize I’m in the minority here.  I’m also probably in the minority for thinking it’s kind of funny that my kids keep singing, to the tune of Jingle Bells, “911, 911, Santa Claus is dead!  Rudolph got a dollar to shoot him in the head!”  Ah, where would we be without Rudolph-as-depicted-as-a-hitman songs?

Despite our anti-Santa sentiment around here – my kids are non-believers, would you guess? – the excitement about Christmas is escalating.  I went to the grocery store yesterday to purchase a few items for Christmas Eve and for some special festive brunches, and realized that the bus from the local seniors’ residence now always comes Mondays at nine.  In other words, at the exact same time I do my shopping.  This means, clearly, I need to find another morning in which to procure my weekly groceries, because I simply can’t take it anymore.  I cannot take the grumbling about the amount of cash registers that are open, I cannot take the accidental bumping of my legs by grocery cart absentmindedly leaned upon by an elderly lady, I cannot take the crabbing to cashiers about the scandalously high price of butter.  I was thinking this, impatiently, as I saw the crowd of mainly elderly women obtaining their carts and looking critically at the “Festive Solutions” display.

But then I saw an old man fumbling around in the cookie section, with his cart full of eggs and bread and ice cream, I saw him carefully choose a bag of “Dad’s” oatmeal cookies and set it in his cart.  I caught his eye and smiled.  I thought that he looked sad, and lonely.  I wondered if this was the first Christmas he was doing the grocery shopping.  I wondered if he was all alone this Christmas, if his wife was gone and he was just doing the best he could.  It reminded me – not for the first time – how very difficult this time of year can be, how joyless and bleak it can seem, and I felt unworthy of all the luck and happiness in my life. 

I went home and unloaded all my groceries, then headed to the school to pick up my boys for lunch.  They ran across the snowy playground to meet me, singing about dead Santa and murderous Rudolph and Robin laying an egg.  My luck and my happiness.


  1. Oh NICOLE. You should put warnings on posts like this. That old duffer… I want to find him and bake him some oatmeal cookies. RIGHT NOW.

    Ron definitely believes in Santa. Harry – I dunno. Sometimes I think he does. Sometimes I think he’s just playing along to get the presents. I do know that he didn’t ask to go see mall-Santa this year (we always told him they were helper-Santas, and he would roll his eyes and say “no, that is the REAL SANTA. He has GLASSES” or something else nonsensical.) And since he didn’t ask, we didn’t go. I too have better things to do and better memories to make, thanks.

  2. The holidays can be a very sad time of year for some. It’s easy to forget that when we are wrapped up in what we need to buy and do.

  3. Well, I was going to make some snarky comments related to the fact that last year when my husband was laid off for a bit and took over the grocery shopping, he refused to go to the store on Wednesdays as that is the Sr. Citizen discount day. But then after thinking about the older gentleman in your post, I realized karma is a bitch so I’d better not be (right at this moment at least).

    Instead I will say that I’ve never taken my kids to see Santa. My mom took my son one year when he was about 3.5. It took forever and he was freaked out. My son is very easy going with strangers and such so my mom was surprised. I wasn’t. Santa is big and loud and a stranger. My daughter is not at all comfortable with strangers and would probably suffer a break down if we tried Santa. So I happily pass on the entire event.

  4. p.s. my son would LOVE your kids’ version of Jingle Bells. I refuse to share it with him, however, because if I have to listen to even one more bastardized version of Jingle Bells, I’m going to lose my mind. Boys.

  5. Oh man, my daughter’s would LOVE that variation of Jingle Bells. Awesome.

    I have only once taken my kids to see Santa, and even that was some random fluke thing that happened because we happened to see Santa at a booth on the Main Street of some teeny little town where we went shopping and there was not one single kid in line. Frankly, I think the locals were avoiding him as Santa seemed to be not entirely lucid. Luckily the kids were young enough that they seemed unconcerned by his incoherent ramblings.

    It is a mixed bag, this time of year. I remember one Christmas my boyfriend broke up with me right at the beginning of December and I found it pretty much impossible to feel at all festive that year. It seemed like everyone around me was coupled off, or having kids, and I felt like I was doomed to a life of living alone with 17 cats. Bah humbug.

    Thankfully, this is a very good Christmas. Not alone…and we only have two cats.

  6. Totally teared up at this one. Clearly the idea of Santa being shot in the head was all I needed to feel the Christmas spirit. I am mush inside!

  7. Even if it’s true that the old guy was alone he probably had happy, lucky days once. I think the trick is to appreciate them when you’re living them and not when you’re looking back. Even though my Christmas is just my Mom and I now, it’s still Mom and I and for that I am thankful (even if it takes copius amounts of wine to make it through the day and my Mother’s backhanded compliments).

  8. Please, please, please join me in making fun of this site! My kids have never done the meet Santa-gig, either. I feel no guilt about this, because we too are not a pro-Santa family.

  9. Wow…didn’t see that one coming.
    Old people make me sad most of the time. You know, cause they’re all old and stuff and one day, hopefully, that will be me in the grocery store…probably fumbling with a box of depends…hopefully not.
    But all jokes aside, this post makes me realize how lucky I am. It’s not about the presents and stressing over this and that…it’s family.
    I went mushy.

  10. I was totally on board with how annoying it is when your at the store on what seems to be the official “Old People Go Grocery Shopping Day.” Now I am sad and ashamed.

    Thanks Nicole!

  11. I have to agree with the Naked Mother, here.

    Although picking another day to shop is still a good idea.


  12. Beautiful post, Nicole. Totally puts things in perspective.

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