It’s a time honored tradition. Parents take the kids to the local mall, wait in an interminable line for a chance to see the Man in the Red Suit, and pay an exorbitant amount for a picture memory of the whole trying experience.
Max was determined to see the Big Guy. Mr. Claus. Santa himself. She gleefully got in line with all the gussied up chiffon and velvet clad children with their perfect curls and handsome hair-dos. Max, being Max, was in jeans, a ponytail that was coming undone, and a hand-me-down shirt that festively proclaimed “I Heart Santa.”
It wasn’t long before she started asking, “Is it my turn?” No. not yet. No, you can’t go over there or we will have to get out of line. Don’t climb on the fancy ropes. They are for keeping you in line.
Max discovered that the bottoms of the velvet rope stands were like a mirror. This entertained her only until it was time to move up in line and she was no longer next to one. It was a long line that seemed to never end. Around and around the velvet rope maze we went. Daddy bailed on us and went to “check the score” on the hockey game that was on the center court tvs. Apparently they didn’t show the score but once every half hour and he just couldn’t leave for fear of missing it.
Finally, we were next in line as it neared closing time for the mall (a good hour and a half after we got in the infernal line). “What are you going to ask Santa for?” I ask Max, who is twirling and bouncing in excitement.
“A fire engine, a lizard, and a puppy dog.”
“Are you going to make a nice face when it’s time to take your picture?” She nods and leans way around trying to see Santa.
The lady motions us forward and Max bounces up into Santa’s lap. They talk about what she wants for Christmas. Max repeats her order for a fire engine, lizard, and puppy dog.
Picture time. “Look over this way, Sweetie,” the nice lady says. “Time to take your picture with Santa!”
Without missing a beat, Max pulls her mouth wide with her fingers, puts her fingers in her ears, and pokes out her tongue. The nice lady looks at me. “Just take it,” I tell her. “If she were smiling sweetly, it wouldn’t be my kid!”
Somehow the “I Heart Santa” shirt seems a bit ironic, don’t you think?