Direct Access to Santa Claus

I was going to. And then I wasn't. And then I did it. I took Kent to get a Santa photo at the mall.

We had seen a hugely long line for this thing on Saturday, when Jack and I went to the mall to pick up a couple of last-minute things, and I said to Jack, "That's my worst nightmare." Not the photo experience itself, but all those cranky kids in line with their eager parents who had dressed them in frilly holiday outfits. After talking to a friend of mine at lunch yesterday, though, I learned that it's not so bad if you go first thing in the morning on a weekday, so I decided Kent and I would brave it.

We stood in line for the first part, which is getting a bar code card that you carry through the rest of the "experience" (here you can already see that this is NOT your basic free Polaroid of your kid with Santa, which is what they have at the other mall and what I was kind of expecting). We also got to fill out a little Santa letter for Kent, which included his name and what he wanted for Christmas. The woman writing these out asked me what he wanted, and I said, "world peace." She liked that. She then told me that she was the reigning Miss Louisiana (!) and that she had given that answer as a joke during the Q&A portion because she loves Miss Congeniality, and she won anyway. I have no idea what she was doing at a mall working for a Santa Experience company, but there you have it.

The second portion of our Experience was taking the letter to a mailbox that went straight to the North Pole, and when we opened it, confetti and cold wind blew out so that Kent could see it was REALLY going to the North Pole. That was the first photo they took of him. He cried a little, I think from the shock of the wind, but then he was fine a second later.

The third part of the Experience was going over to a big display that had a needle between Naughty and Nice, pushing the button, and seeing where the needle landed. Naturally, because Kent is so great, it went all the way over to the Nice side. It made me wonder what a kid has to do in line to be told s/he is Naughty. They took a picture of that, too, though Kent's reaction wasn't much to see.

Finally, there was the line for the Santa Photo. The two-year-old girl in front of us, whose name I learned was Hayley, had been very cute and outgoing through the line, and I liked her mom immediately because she had dressed her in regular little girl clothes instead of a frilly holiday outfit. Hayley was getting excited, even though the four kids in line in front of her had all freaked out when they got placed on Santa's lap. Hayley, to her credit, was not phased by this, and gave a big smile while the guy took pictures of her with Santa. I had been wondering what Kent would do, but he also stayed happy and amused by Santa while the professional photographer and I both snapped photos of him. Very cute.

I had been looking at their brochure while we were walking through the line (yes, they had a brochure, including a line about providing "direct access to Santa Claus"), and I had decided that no matter what, I was limiting myself to one photo. At $13.95, it wasn't hard to do. I thought briefly about leaving and driving 20 minutes to the other mall with the free Polaroids, but I decided to stick with the original plan and chalk it up to the "He's Only a Baby Once" excuse. I had gotten several nice shots myself (like this one), but I also bought an adorable photo of Santa reading the book to him and him looking quizzically at Santa's face. We'll have to find a frame for that one somewhere, because it's great (and sorry I haven't figured out a way to share it with the blogosphere).

After I thanked Santa and picked Kent back up, I realized that Kent's pants were a little bit wet, so I think he may have left a damp spot on Santa's leg. It probably wasn't the first time it happened to Santa, and it definitely wasn't the first time Kent has done it to someone.

A clean diaper later, Kent and I sauntered (okay, ran) back out to the car in the rain, and now we're at home, heavy one overpriced Santa photo. Oh well. He's Only a Baby Once.

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I think that's great! Every year I chicken out. "I did Amazon to AVOID the mall, why would I go now!?" kind of line. But that's a great Santa. He doesn't look like the cheap remake, know what I mean?

BTW, we got your goodie box today. Woohoo!! We LOVE the picture of Kent. Possibly the only kid in teh world as cute as Ellis. :-D
So cute! That's a very elaborate Santa Experience, wow. Hope your travels on Saturday go ok!
Of course you should have done that on Kent's first Christmas!! Judy took Beth the first year, and I treasure that picture. It was a surprise to me, and she was only 2 months old! That is a beautiful Santa, and that must have been a great book.

Hahah. I love your stories, they're so engaging. You should be a writer in your next life. =) I can't wait to see the picture of Kent looking at Santa, those are my FAVORITE!! And, I can't wait to see you guys! Have safe travels.
Oh, super cute number one nephew strikes again! Remind me tell you about working near the Easter Bunny line in the mall... heheheh
What an adorable photo! I love how Kent has his little hand pulled into his sleeve too. Happy travels tomorrow!
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