Perhaps it’s easy for me to say this because my kids are well past the Santa phase, but I propose that we stop with the photos of kids in Santa’s lap. Not all of the photos, mind you, just the ones that appear to be causing long-term psychological damage.
Look, I get it. After an hour of waiting in line for the mall Santa, playing “I Spy” and plying the kiddies bribes, there can be a deep sense of satisfaction snapping a photo of your kids’ very un-merry moment. Bonus: printing said photo onto a holiday card so 300 of your closest friends and family can share the sad sentiment.
I admit that I’ve been there. After a particularly aggravating trip to a warehouse store, during which my toddler whined and generally made it an exasperating trip to buy bulk diapers and frozen chicken wings, the checker asked if he could put a smiley face stamp on my receipt.
“Can you put it on his forehead?” I asked. “Because that’s the only smile I’ll see on his face all day.”
Momma was exhausted.
But the Santa photos are a different animal altogether. If we put aside the tradition and the holiday spirit behind the gesture, this is what you have:
1. Dress your kids up in matching and slightly uncomfortable clothes.
2. Don’t let them eat anything, lest they spill something on their special outfits.
3. Make them stand in a long line, surrounded by loud noises, adults who may bump into them, and kids playing with toys they covet.
4. Thrust them into the arms of a strange man in a red suit and step away.
5. Let another stranger try to coax them to smile.
6. Threaten them to smile, even though they are not happy.
7. Complain the whole way home that they ruined it all.
One solution is a sensory-friendly Santa Claus [spelled with an “e” by Fox News, perhaps by a law student] experience. It’s designed for kids on the autism spectrum or those with Sensory Processing Disorder, but I think that the dim lighting, low-volume music and small crowds would do all kids — and parents — good. (Check for a Sensitive Santa event in your area here.)
Or, dare I say, skip Santa this year. Ho, ho, ho.