#21: Seeing Santa

The holiday season is in full swing. Some may claim there is a War on Christmas, but you wouldn’t think it visiting your local mall. That place is hopping with all-things-Christmas, including Santa’s Village, that joyous place where children can sit on Santa’s lap and ask for the bestest presents they can think of. Seeing Santa for a child is a very magical time, and now that you’re dating Renee, who’s got her six-year-old Aaron, it’s time to see that magic up close. You three will bundle up, get in the car, and drive over to the mall, ready to get a big shot of holiday spirit.

It just so happens that today the entire tri-county area had the same idea as you. You’re not the only one with an adorable child ready to sit on Santa’s lap. After a nice half hour drive around the parking lot, you’ll finally find a spot in a different zip code and make the freezing trek towards the mall (it’s good you all dressed warmly). Then it’s straight to Santa’s Village, where you’ll stand at the end of a line that appears to rival Great Depression soup kitchen queues. No matter. The three of you will pass the time talking about Santa, what Aaron will ask Santa for, and what you asked Santa for. That kills a few minutes, and you’ve moved ahead five feet. By the time you reach the front, an elf will inform you Santa’s going on a break. He should be back in five minutes. You understand Santa needs a break, but can’t he take one after you talk to him? Persuasion won’t work with this elf; she’s heard it all before.

Now that cozy winter coat that felt so good outside is turning your body into a yule log. It is hot in this thing, which doesn’t help your already tried patience. Between the screaming kids around you and Mannheim Steamroller blasting over the speakers, you’re barely keeping it together. But Santa comes back, although with a different beard, and he’s a little skinnier. You have to quickly explain to Aaron that Santa must have exercised during his break and lost some weight. You got nothin’ to explain the beard, but luckily Aaron isn’t that observant.

Aaron sits on Santa’s lap, you snap some pictures, Aaron tells Santa what he wants for Christmas, and the elf takes Aaron off Santa. Wait… that’s it? That’s what you’ve been waiting an hour in line for? That was, like, thirty seconds. Your kid isn’t special. He’s just another kid. If Henry Ford were to design a Santa meet-and-greet, this would be it. It’s more about efficiency than intimacy. Before you know it, the three of you are walking away from Santa’s Village and heading towards the food court for some orange chicken.

The wait was long, and the payoff was crummy. But guess what? It doesn’t matter what you think. Seeing Santa isn’t about you; it’s about your kid. And your kid won’t remember the annoying stuff. He won’t care about the whiny toddler behind you or that the snow looks incredibly fake under those garish fluorescent lights. He’s seeing Santa, and that’s all that matters. Did you even notice that Aaron was excited the entire time you were in line? He hasn’t grown into the cynical person you’ve become–that’s still years away.  If you need a little help remaining sane, bring a few games to play in line with your family. That should help pass the time. But it will all be worth it. Seeing utter and complete joy in the eyes of a child will warm you so much you won’t need your parka on the the walk back to your car.