One of the traditions we had yet to explore with my children was visiting Santa Claus. I held off on this one until this year because Mr J was not yet old enough to understand who Santa was until this year. We asked him if he wanted to visit “Ho Ho” (as he calls him) and he agreed. (This was preceded by many weeks of reading Christmas stories so that Mr J understood who Santa was).
However, when we got there it was a different story. Although I would love to show you a picture of a two shining children sitting on Santa’s knee, that is not the reality!
We braved the -33 C weather to arrive at Parks West Mall. We were greeted by some of our favourite ParentLink staff members, and Daddy. Daddy greeted his two children joyfully and then I announced we needed to make a quick bathroom trip before Santa. Turns out on the car ride over, both children had left a little present for us in their pants. We unwrapped our many layers and slunk off to the bathroom.
After a long bathroom ordeal, the carefully appointed outfits were looking a little limp. Mr J would not go anywhere near Ho Ho – he was scared.
On one hand, as a parent I really like this. It means my child is wary of strangers. He won’t just accept anyone off the street to sit on their knee. On the other hand, it’s funny. Mr J took to Mrs Claus without any hesitation with huge smiles. But the big man himself with a cherry nose was intimidating. Miss P sat right on Santa’s knee without any hesitation and was quite happy. Daddy sat with Mr J beside Santa and that was okay – but for the life of all of us, we couldn’t get him to smile.
We tried bells, sounds, speaking to him, giving him a candy cane… Nuh-uh… he was not having it. Miss P was fascinated by it.
The end results – I got a lovely picture of my husband… with Santa…. and two deers in the headlights. Oh well. There’s always next year.
Our visit to see Santa was far less entertaining than that of Holly’s story. To avoid standing in a long lineup with our impatient toddler, we wanted to go earlier in the day. We lucked out one day last week where Daddy was home for the afternoon so we decided to take advantage of this and headed to the Burlington Mall to see Santa. I’m one of those mom’s who has an incessant need for her child to be all dressed up for various occasions, Santa pictures being one of them.
The lineup was short as was the visit with Santa. Miss O is only 18 months and still really has no clue who Santa is except for being some goofy guy in a big red suit. She doesn’t yet get the concept of telling Santa what she wants for Christmas because, well, she has no idea what she wants for Christmas nor does she say an awful lot. The woman taking the pictures kept trying to get Miss O to smile by shaking bells and generally trying to get her attention. Miss O does not smile for photos. She’s a happy, giggly kid but once she sees that camera, she stares. She has no patience for cameras much like her Daddy. I told the woman that as long as Miss O was looking at the camera and not crying, it was a winner in my books. Miss O is not one for a grand freak-out; however, she’s not a big fan of strangers. She’s got an epic stink-eye that will freak even Santa out. People try very hard to get her to smile but she smiles on her own terms, not yours or anyone else’s. I’ve got a strong-willed kid which I think it pretty awesome. She tolerated Santa and I’m quite alright with that. Better than a freak-out in my books!
Tips for Visting Santa
- Read stories or watch videos about who Santa is before visiting. Check out your local library for titles.
- Timing is everything. Pick the right time of day for your child when they are at their best & brightest.
- Have a snack before you go. You never know how long the line is going to be.
- Speak of it – pick a time when you hope the line will be short. You can also call the mall/event & ask when a typical slow time is.
- Think about introducing your child to Santa before picture day at local events before you get to the knee-sitting phase.
- You may not be the tradition knee-sitting picture. Be ready with your own camera to snap those magical moments right before it when child is interacting with Santa. These may turn out to be more precious then the actual picture.
Make Your Own Tradition
- Check out Santa Claus at your local mall or event – see your local newspaper for more information.
- Visit Santa’s Village (Bracebridge, ON), or Village du Pere Noel (Val-David, QC)
- One of my favourite events when I worked at the YMCA was always Breakfast with Santa. Check your local YMCA to see if you can volunteer.
- Track Santa on NORAD.
a passionate recreation coordinator by day, crazy farm mama of two by night. i live outdoors: growing my own food, camping and hiking with my border collie with two active kids in tow. when I’m not writing, I’m experimenting with recipes, and crafts – or anything else that might keep the monkeys entertained.