We took Katelyn to see Santa Claus the other day. I had actally decided that Katie was too young for it this year, whether it be because she's 14 months or because I didn't want her to go. I never really thought I'd be one of those parents to take their kid to see Santa considering how much I hated the experience myself. I've thought about it for years now and I think that I was turned off to visiting Santa by the song "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." Sure, it's a catchy little jingle, but it scared the shit out of me as a kid. It put Santa in the role of a God, an omnipotent force who could (and would) judge me. Or maybe his role was more of a creepy old man who stalked children. Either way, it didn't sit well with my young brain. Santa saw me when I was sleeping? When I was awake? When I was showering? He knew if I was bad or good, so he had to know my deepest, darkest thoughts. Or so I thought.
One year someone dressed up as Santa on Christmas Eve to delight my grandmother's house chock full of kids--myself included. My cousins ran to greet him. I was not delighted. I hid upstairs and refused to come down until I was promised by my mom that he left. I suspected he wasn't the real Santa, but I was willing to take my chances. And I remember being very angry that he had invaded the safe zone of my grandmother's home. Wasn't he supposed to be delivering gifts, anyway? What kind of lazy-ass Santa took breaks for home visits on his busiest night of the year?
So rounding the last bit of queue and seeing the Big Man sitting there in the mall as a kid was a little like a Catholic getting to the pearly gates. You have to know that I was the kind of kid who wouldn't even steal a piece of penny candy from my aunt's store (when the rest of my cousins did). And when someone in my ninth grade history class took a copy of an upcoming test from the teacher's desk and passed it around, I refused to copy the answers like every single other person in the class. And even when the teacher publically pointed out a week later that I was the only one in the class to fail the test, I knew that I had taken the moral (if stupid) high ground. And when I found a wallet full of cash in the privacy of a public bathroom stall, I did the right thing and handed it to the guy at the service desk, even though no one but myself would have ever known I took the cash from the wallet. So, you see, I had no good reason to be afraid of Santa. My parents never, ever, threatened me with the idea of him not coming on Christmas morning nor did he ever fail to deliver. And every Christmas morning as I ran out to a room full of presents, I chuckled at my lack of belief. (I may do that someday at the Pearly Gates, but I'm still taking my chances.)
But at Cracker Barrel last week, Katie saw a Santa eating dinner (most likely right after his mall shift was completed) and started frantically waving at him. She smiled and giggled and waved like she was seeing a long lost womb friend. She's never even looked that excited to see me. So I thought maybe my personal hangups with Santa shouldn't be transferred to her. So "we" took her, even though I made Dan go up to Santa while I stayed behind and tried to look busy.
The funny thing was that she sat on his lap as still as could be. She blinked, but otherwise sat motionless. The ends of her mouth curved up slightly as the photographers made a commotion to get her to smile for a picture, but I could tell that she knew something was up. Even with her doubt, she did better on her first visit than I did in eight years of my childhood.
I got an email the other day with the following in it:
"I just want to say THANK YOU for blogging about your birth experience. I really think that reading your story saved me from a lot of pain and trauma."
I can't even begin to tell you how warm and squishy that makes me feel. I had hoped that by writing my experiences, thoughts, and feelings out that maybe I could help someone else. Knowing that I have makes me feel great.