So… we stood in line to meet Santa Claus on Sunday. Yep. Me, Jessica, Elias and Adeline. But it gets worse. We did this at a mall. Yes, the mall.
Taking your kids to meet Santa at the mall should come with a warning y’all. Because it’s hell. Hell. But I didn’t know this. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I thought I was engaging a “happy holidays” event with my family! I didn’t know that I was basically taking my kids to stand in line at the North Poll’s DMV.
Because I didn’t know. When my wife suggested that we should take the kids to the Green Hills Mall so they could tell “Santa” the list of toys that we’d already bought, wrapped, and hidden in the garage, I happily nodded my head yes. Why did I do that? Because I didn’t know.
I hadn’t visited Santa Claus at a mall since I was four years old. By the following Christmas, my family had joined an Independent Fundamental Baptist church. As a Baptist, I still believed in Santa but since I was Baptist, he and I had to stop meeting each other at the mall. My parents were afraid that one of our new Baptist friends, nice people who believed “Santa” was no more than an anagram for “Satan,” might catch us in line attempting to make contact with Santa and we’d be outed as Santa/Satan followers. It was all very dramatic and otherworldly. But its suffice to say that I grew up judging people who met Santa inside malls.
Before this year, our kids met Santa at a fundraiser for our kids’ school. But this year, the school didn’t invite Santa. Instead, they tossed Jesus a birthday party. Which I’m sure was amazing or weird. My kids didn’t want to meet Jesus; they wanted to meet Santa Claus. Which is why on Sunday morning we got dressed up, put the kids in their holiday best, and darted off toward the Green Hills Mall.
Santa was due to arrive at noon, so we arrived thirty-five minutes early. Of course, since it was the Sunday before Christmas, we weren’t the only people in Nashville who’d made plans to meet Santa at the Green Hills Mall. At least 40 people stood in front of us. Elias was jumping-up-and-down excited. Adeline was whining, which meant she was excited, too. The first five minutes was AMAZING. We hummed Christmas songs. We talked about all the things that we were going to tell Santa. We ate snacks. Those first five minutes were Heavenly.
Then, Adeline had to potty. Meanwhile, Elias started becoming restless. We talked about Darth Vader. He sat on my shoulders. He ran circles around me. And then he started throwing kicks and punches into the air. Without any warning at all, one of his air punches landed right in my groin. The first time was an accident. The third time was not. Thankfully, his punches were only hard enough to bring a couple of tears to my eyes, just enough oomph to give me a constant reminder that I have testicles and what happens when they get angry.
Five minutes after Adeline returned from going potty, she needed to go potty again. And then she needed to engage in an emotional breakdown in front of the Lucky Brand store.
All of this happened before Santa had even arrived. When he did arrive, Elias and Adeline wanted to see him. While Jessica took them over to catch a glimpse of Santa, I stood in line, trying to pretend that my jingle bells weren’t still ringing. The kids and Jessica returned just as the first family prepared to meet Santa.
Seven minutes later, the second family met Santa. However, every time it was time for a family to meet Santa, the group of people who were waiting in line to meet him were joined by other family members not standing in line. So families of three and four turned into families of eight or 10.
And Santa’s helpers? Well, sometimes I wondered what they were helping Santa do. Whatever it was, they were doing it slowly, painstakingly slow.
Adeline started chasing Elias. Elias chased Adeline. Adeline had to go potty again. Elias’s voice started morphing into that of an elf, high pitched and whiny.
Then, Adeline had to go potty… again.
Forty-five minutes into our wait time, I was ready to tell the kids that Santa wasn’t real, that he was make-believe, and possibly just an anagram for Satan!
Forty-five minutes after that, I officially hated Santa. But it was finally our time to have our seven minutes with Santa, so I had to pretend that I loved the dude, that I believed he was real.
Adeline, who was so excited to meet Santa, cried the moment she saw him. Jessica worked her “Mommy” magic and somehow found a way to get her into his lap without any real crazy happening. Santa’s helper snapped three pictures. On the third one, she said, I think I got a good one! It was decent, but not worth its 25 dollar price tag. Still, we paid it. I smiled big as I helped the kids hop off Santa’s lap. However, the whole time I was whispering I hate you, Santa. You’re not the real Santa. You’re a fake Santa.
On the way out, I looked at Jessica, “That was an amazing experience. Let’s do it again next year!”
I said, “Why don’t they have two or three Santas here to handle the demand?!”
“They can’t do that,” she said, “the kids might think he’s not real!”
“He’s not real!”
She looked at me. “That birthday party for Jesus sounds pretty amazing right about now, huh?”
Bah humbug. “Let’s not do that ever again, okay?” My wife smirked. My testicles said “AMEN!” And Elias said, “I’m hungry…” Adeline skipped, fell down, and cried.
And I smiled and started singing, “Happy Holidays… Happy Holidays… ”