From my 2 ½-year-old’s perspective, Santa Claus is a recognizable character who wears funny fuzzy hat and says, “Ho ho ho!” She knows he comes down the chimney and brings toys to kids on Christmas. What she doesn’t know is that, as a kid, she is supposed to sit on his lap and smile for the camera.
She likes Santa – from a distance. She does not want to be within a foot of him, let alone touching him, let alone with her back to him, let alone sitting on his lap. And smile for a camera while doing this? Uh, no.
Being 2 ½, her knowledge of Santa is really very new. She’s just learning about him – from books, from Elmo and Dora, and from Mommy’s pretty Christmas decorations. I imagine the big picture is still a little (or a lot) fuzzy though. I mean, who is this Santa really? To her?
This past Sunday we took her to the mall in the hopes of getting her picture taken with Santa. We front-loaded her for weeks, maybe even a month (when I took her to Barnes and Noble and bought her a collection of colorful Christmas books). She had been talking about him and saying that she wanted to go see him. “I’m going to see Santa on Saturday,” she reminded us. “He brings toys to kids.”
All dressed up in her sparkly red Christmas dress, she happily waited in line, chipper and chattering. “I’m going to see Santa,” she said beaming. My husband and I, like seasoned PR pros, kept the hype going. “Look, Siena, there’s Santa,” we chirped, pointing. We reminded her again and again that he brings toys to kids for Christmas, and that he’s nice, and that we love him, and that she loves him. “Look at the little girl sitting on Santa’s lap,” I said. “She’s smiling and happy. Yay!”
Then it was our turn.
We whisked her over to him (no time to think about it, just get her on that lap!). I forgot to mention that last year (when she was 1 ½) we took her to see Santa and she flipped out after she was on the lap. We have pictures to commemorate it. We thought, all 1 ½ year olds flip out, at 2 ½ she’ll be fine, we just need to keep the momentum going.
Well, she didn’t even make it to the lap this time. She WOULD NOT do it. Crying loudly for all the mall to see and hear, she made it clear that she would not be posing for any picture with Santa this year. Not even when Mommy and Daddy were sitting on/near Santa’s lap, saying, “Come on Sweetie, Mommy and Daddy will do it with you.”
So, we ended up taking her for a ride on the little mall train and then getting some ice cream – both of which she was happy to do. The funny thing was, afterward, all she could talk about was that she saw Santa, went on a train, and had an ice cream cone. She’s still talking about it. She doesn’t seem to remember the part about her being terrified and refusing to participate. That’s a good thing. And, on Christmas morning she be thrilled to see all the toys Santa brought.