Throughout my life there has been a particular Santa at a particular mall that we go to every year. We went to see the Santa at this mall every year when I was a child. In fact the Santa from this mall was at a different mall and we followed him from mall to mall.
There is almost a 13 year age difference between my youngest brother and myself. Since he was so much younger than me and I knew more about Santa than he did from the day he was born, my mother said the only way Santa would visit in her house was if all four of her children sat on his lap. So, there I was at 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18 sitting on Santa’s lap with my younger siblings. I have to say that I was more than a bit embarrassed at 17 and 18. It helped that my other brother was 14 and 15 those years and I knew he was just as embarrassed as me. Still, once we would get up there to see Santa, we forgot our embarrassment and enjoyed the moment.
At some point, we began taking a gift to Santa every year. Our family received so much pleasure from Santa’s presence that we wanted to express our gratitude to him. He began to remember us and expect us. I guess with so many grown children it is hard to forget them. When Santa’s minister retired, his minister became the associate minister at my dad’s church. This connection is what really made us stand out to Santa.
Eventually, the question became: when will we stop sitting in Santa’s lap every year? At some point, my youngest brother was even too big to see Santa. By this time, visiting Santa had become such an important Christmas tradition that we could not stop. So every year we would continue to go see Santa, even when I was 21, 25, and 30. We even went when I was 23 weeks pregnant with twins at 32 years old. Talk about embarrassing! Still, this Santa was incredible and mystical. He was everything Santa is supposed to be. He looked like the real Santa. He was the real Santa! Just look at his photo at the top of this post!
When my children were born, of course they had to go sit in his lap. I think I had to sit in his lap for a family photo that year before we took the children to sit in his lap. This was to get a photo of my pregnant sister sitting in his lap like I had done the year before. The next year, when I was 34, was the first year we broke the sibling tradition of sitting in Santa’s lap. Still, I wound up being with Santa because GigglyGirl was too frightened to be there without Mommy. My youngest brother missed see Santa that year so much that he and my mom made a special trip by that mall on Christmas Eve just so he could get a peek at Santa. When Santa saw him and my mom, he knew exactly who my brother was and made sure my brother sat on his lap.
In the spring of last year, this particular Santa spent his last days on earth. He was a man of faith and I have no doubt he is in heaven today. Last year, it was so hard to be back at this mall and see a new Santa. I had to hold back tears because it would not do to have mommy crying when she looked at Santa Claus. How would I have explained that to the children? I made it through without crying. GigglyGirl still needed me to hold her hand so I was with Santa again for another picture.
This year, was the first year in my 38 years of seeing Santa that I did not sit on his lap for a photo. It was strange but it was also good. I am glad that GigglyGirl did not need my hand to hold this year. I am glad she is breaking out of her shell. I am glad that both BusyBoy and GigglyGirl are continuing my family’s tradition. My sister’s children sat on Santa’s lap right before our children did. We were able to get a photo of all four children together with Santa. Both of my brothers were there as well to watch. It was a wonderful continuation of our tradition. I am happy my brothers were there tonight as well.