Last weekend, my husband and I took our Biz e-Babies to the mall for pictures with Santa. It was his first weekend to appear so I thought if we went early, we could beat the “after-Thanksgiving rush.” We left the house with our children dressed appropriately in coordinating reds and greens. Hair was combed, teeth were brushed (they’d had their snacks beforehand), and we still had at least an hour until they’d need a nap. Before putting on our coats, I urged my three-year-old daughter to go potty, “You don’t want to pee on Santa’s leg,” I told her.
“I don’t have to go,” she responded.
“Are you sure?” I asked. “They don’t have potties there.”
“I am sure!” she insisted.
We put on our coats and piled into the car.
Once we arrived, my husband and I decided it would be best to use the double stroller and keep both kids strapped in until the last possible moment. We entered the mall and made our way to the atrium where Santa’s Workshop had been set-up. There was a 2-story Christmas tree with all the trimmings, a giant Teddy Bear, oversize building blocks, some fake snow and Santa’s helpers dressed like elves all around.
As we approached the exhibit we discovered the décor wasn’t the only thing of exaggerated proportion—so was the line. There were so many people, in fact, that it was difficult to tell where the beginning of the end of the line actually was. It seemed I wasn’t the only one who thought it would be a good idea to get a jump on the holiday photos. We followed the line as it snaked around the North Pole until finally, an elf asked us if we were here for pictures with Santa.
“We didn’t anticipate such a good turn out,” the elf explained. “There’s a bit of a wait,” she added, handing me a card with the number 53.
“About how long do you estimate it will take before our number is called?” I asked.
“Probably about 30-45 minutes. But you can walk around if you stay in the area.”
It was Sunday so unfortunately most of the stores in the mall weren’t going to open for another 30 minutes. It was only 11:30 p.m. My husband and I agreed that he would stroll the kids around so that I could search for a holiday dress that I needed and we’d meet back at the North Pole in twenty minutes.
By the time I returned, they were only on number 29. I looked for my husband and the kids but didn’t see them. I waited and watched as others cued up to see Santa. I tried to estimate how many minutes per child it would take until they got to our number. Then, I saw my husband walking toward me from the other side.
“They are on number 33,” he said.
Next to us were some tables with coloring books on them, so we grabbed two chairs and pushed the kids in the stroller up to the table. A woman with two daughters about seven and eight years old gave us a sympathetic look and asked if we wanted to share some of their crayons.
We colored for a while and finally heard our number being called.
“Numbers 50 and higher!” yelled an elf. But there was still a line about 10 deep.
I went to wait in line while my husband stayed with the kids and colored. When only about three families came between us and Santa, my kids got in line with me. By this time, my son was getting fussy and already an hour had passed. He wanted me to hold him. And when I held him, then my daughter whined for me to hold her too. Everyone was irritable and their nice looking hairdos and outfits were now crinkled and mussed up. Oh well.
Only two people left.
The woman in front of me started going on about how ridiculous the wait was and how her son has attention disorders and how she was in the hospital yesterday from chest pain but she has no family to watch her son so she had to be released. The kid was crawling between her legs and swinging from the stanchions as she talked. I listened and told her she should take it easy, but wondered in the back of my mind, “Then, while the hell are you here?”
I was about to get chest pains just watching them.
Only one more person left.
I knelt down and looked at my daughter to prepare her for what was about to happen. “Now, Santa may ask you if you have been a good little girl this year,” I told her. “What will you say?”
“If he asks you if your brother has been good, what will you say?”
“No, you should say ‘yes,’” I corrected. “He may also ask you if you want anything special this year. Do you want anything?”
“OK, good. Tell him that if he asks,” I said straightening her skirt.
Then it was our turn.
I heard the elf next to us say to my daughter, “Are you a little dancer?”
I wasn’t sure why. So, I looked down and saw my daughter crossing her legs and seemingly trying to keep from tinkling right there on the floor.
“Mommy, I have to tinkle.”
Number 53 had to pee. Dang it!!!!!!
My husband had already started to walk toward Santa’s throne with my son, but as I looked at my daughter and then back at Santa it was like a movie playing in slow motion. Let her go and hope she can hold it? Or, risk having her pee on Santa’s leg? My mind fast-forwarded to a scene where Santa was looking down at his wet, red, velveteen pant suit mouth gaping open in astonishment. I couldn’t do it to him.
“Santa…,” I said. “I am sorry but we have to use the potty.” We got out of line and I scooped up my daughter running to the nearest bathroom in Macy’s. I couldn’t be mad at her. She’s only three. I was glad that she knew enough to tell me she had to go, after all. We did our business as quickly as we could and came back to Santa.
He was gone. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO (slow motion voice)
I looked at the elf who had seen us run to the potty. “Where’d he go?” I asked.
“Santa had to use the potty too,” she responded. “He’ll be back soon. I’ll radio him.”
I saw the elf get on her 2-way radio and call for someone. Now my son was crying and wanting to run around North Pole. He thought an oversized red ball was a real bouncy ball and made a beeline for it. My daughter started to pull on the giant tree ornaments. I was afraid they’d pull the whole display down and that would be the next situation on our hands. It was past lunch time and it was now nap time. We waited for almost 15 minutes. I started to think Santa went for a smoke or to get something to eat.
At last, we saw him rounding the corner. Whew.
Before he could get his jolly red butt in the seat, I plopped both my kids on his lap. My son freaked and tried to squirm away. Santa was no match for him. My husband and I quickly decided we’d kneel down next to them and be in the photo– just to get it over with and stop the drama. It didn’t work.
I settled on the fact that my son was not getting a 2010 picture with Santa and told my daughter she’d have one by herself. Santa asked her what she wanted for Christmas, as predicted, and she answered, “a ball.” At least something went as planned.
The elf behind the camera told her to smile and say “cheeeeeeese!” My daughter smiled, the flash went off and she blinked.
“Did she blink?” I asked the elf.
“No she was fine.” He said.
We made our way to check out and they displayed the image up on a computer screen. Son of a gun….. SHE HAD BLINKED.
We had to do it again. Fortunately, the second time she didn’t close her eyes.
The process was so long and horrific that when my husband went to reach for his wallet the elf who was printing the picture said, “Don’t worry about it. It’s on us.”
As we got the picture and started to leave my daughter looked back at Santa and his elves and said loudly, “Wait…where’s my ball?!”
Santa laughed and waved goodbye. I had some explaining to do on the way home.
- “Free Letters From Santa” and related posts (bargainmoose.ca)
- THE POLAR EXPRESS! The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad’s Seasonal Service to the North Pole (prweb.com)
- New Children’s Book Says Santa Claus and Santa Christina Will Share Delivery of Christmas Toys (prweb.com)
- Theater Review | ‘Elf’: North Pole Naïf Tries to Thaw Hearts (theater.nytimes.com)
- Santa Mega Pack App Brings North Pole to iPhone (appscout.com)
- Train Ride to Visit Santa at Travel Town (prweb.com)