Why I’m Not Taking my Toddler to Sit on Santa’s Lap This Year

Family Matters on 12.12.11
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Photo: istolethetv / Creative Commons

Last year come Christmastime, my daughter was five months old. She was obviously too young to know who the heck Santa Claus was. I figured it would be completely pointless to bring her to the bustling local mall and plop her in Santa's lap.

It was unexpected that I found myself fielding the question, "Are you going to take Alex to see Santa?"My answer to that (on the inside) was to answer the question with the question, "Why?" Being asked also made me wonder, "Why not?" Was I robbing Alex of an experience by not bringing her? Nah. That's definitely not it.

Two Crappy Halloweens

When she was three months old, we were invited to a Halloween party with friends and their children. Starved for adult interaction and fresh out of the cocoon of the newborn stage, we agreed to go. That experience ended in hysterics. So we soothed her and took her home. Go figure, a three-month-old doesn't enjoy Halloween.

This year, we decided to forgo Halloween after I took her costume shopping in one of those fly-by-night Halloween stores. When my typically chill little girl burst into tears, I turned to see what she was looking at: life-size moving zombies with glowing red eyes. Sigh. Not awesome.

We bolted for the door before even setting foot in the children's aisle. Suggestion to the store decorators: perhaps you could consider shuffling the brain-eaters a little further away from the fairy wings. Thanks.

Santa Looms Large This Year

I realize that Santa isn't a zombie, at least not in the traditional sense. So it stands to reason that bringing Alex to see Santa is a possibility this year. However, my initial instinctual answer is a big no.

It seems that, like Disney, Santa's lap is a go-to destination for children of all ages. Before I can formulate an answer as to why not visit Santa, I need to figure out what the real reasons could be to start the mall Santa tradition before a kid understands Christmas.

The first reason is the photo opportunity. Who doesn't love seeing photos of kids sitting on Santa's lap? I find this set of photos of kids terrified of Santa both funny and adorable. While I really enjoy looking at those pictures, I'm not so sure I would like to see my own daughter screaming in terror in the grips of a bearded stranger while I stood (laughed?) on the sidelines. It probably makes me a bad person that I'm amused by other peoples' kids in the same situation.

This year, Alex is just shy of a year and a half. We're reading The Night Before Christmas as a bedtime story each night. While she loves pointing out the moon on each page it appears - as she has only recently borne witness to the real live moon outside in the night sky - she offers only a marginal interest in Santa.

This morning she wanted me to explain his big white beard. Aha, a budding interest. I'm now considering taking her to watch Santa in action, so that she can translate his image on the pages into real life. But as for handing her over to the big guy, we're going to give it one more year.

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Tags: Holidays