I think I've only had one good picture where all of my kids are smiling and look happy to be there.
When CJ was a baby, it was no problem. We just plopped him on Santa's lap, they snapped the picture and that was that. (He was only 3 months old)
The next year, he looked a little concerned, but the picture was different.
Two years later, Brielle was 9 months old and CJ was three.
Brielle is sitting nicely on Santa's lap and CJ is standing about 3 feet away, looking sideways at Santa with a look of confusion on his face.
Still, he never screamed.
The following year, CJ went eagerly up to Santa so he cold tell him what he wanted for Christmas. He hopped up on his lap, then I sat Brielle on his other knee, and she had a complete meltdown.
The girl in the elf costume behind the camera kept trying to get her to smile, but she just screamed louder.
And the girl just kept trying. "Come on sweetie. Smile. Be a happy girl. Smile."
Brielle just screamed louder.
Finally I said "Just take the picture!"
Elf girl says "But she's not smiling."
I say "JUST HURRY AND TAKE THE PICTURE!!!"
I must have scared ditsy elf girl because she went ahead and snapped the picture.
Right as the picture was being taken, Brielle had lifted her arms straight above her head in an effort to escape from Santa by sliding out under his arm. Santa tightened his grip just in time to keep her from falling on the floor but unfortunately only caught her around the neck as she was sliding off his lap.
What we got was a picture of CJ sitting very nicely on Santa's lap with a big smile on his face, while Brielle's face was beet red from screaming and from Santa's arm being practically around her throat.
(He wasn't really choking her, it just looked like it in the photo. She was fine, and has not seemed to have suffered any ill effects from the experience)
We didn't really have any unfortunate Santa photos for many years after that. (Aaron has never been afraid of Santa. Santa brings him toys, what's scary about that?)
Until last year.
We went to Disneyland and California Adventure during the first week of December. Santa was in California Adventure wearing bermuda shorts, a Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses.
I tried to sit Max on his lap and he screamed grabbed my hair with both hands and tried to climb up my face. (Max did that, not Santa)
Santa was really nice, he told Max that he could just stand in front of him, he didn't need to sit on his lap, and Mom could stand next to them, but Max wasn't buying it.
Instead of a cute picture of Max sitting on Santa's lap, we have a picture of me standing several feet away from Santa holding Max who looks terrified and is screaming at the top of his lungs while Santa is sitting on a surfboard giving us the "hang loose" sign.
Today I was thinking about my experiences with Santa when I was a child.
Like the Santa at JC Penny's who had REALY bad breath. And black eyebrows. Seriously a Santa with black eyebrows and a white beard and hair.
And bad breath. He should have tried eating one of those candy canes that he was handing out. Really, it couldn't have made his breath any worse.
The most memorable one was when I was about 4. We were at our family's Christmas party, and I noticed that my great aunt and uncle snuck out the front door.
About ten minutes later, my aunt and Santa Clause walked IN the front door.
And Santa was wearing my uncle's boots.
So either Santa and my great aunt had tied up my great uncle with Christmas lights and Santa had stolen his boots,
It was my great uncle dressed up as Santa.
All of my cousins were stampeding toward "Santa."
Me? I wasn't buying it.
So when it was my turn to sit on his lap and tell him what I wanted for Christmas I said "You're not Santa. You're uncle Ivan. I KNOW WHO YOU ARE!"
He just laughed, threw in a few "Ho, Ho, Ho"s and said "No, I really am Santa!" (Adding a few more "Ho, Ho, Ho"s)
"No" I said. "You are uncle Ivan. You sound like him and you're wearing his boots! I KNOW WHO YOU ARE!"
You know how sometimes when you say or do something as a child that nobody lets you forget? A few years ago at a family reunion, my great uncle Ivan retold that story. (But I was right wasn't I? It really was him, and I knew it was him.) He said how I just kept repeating "I know who you are! I know who you are!"
At least I didn't lick all the dirt of of a bunch of twigs when we were camping like my cousin did when we were little. That's a story I enjoy telling to her kids..........
And to continue with the