At least that is what we adults seem to remember. This often distorted childhood memory drives us to repeat the tradition with our own children. We toss out our constant warning to our kids to avoid strangers and take them to meet a big hairy one. We even force our little Dears despite their practical protests, to sit on the Stranger’s lap so we can take a picture of the wonderful experience. Yes, that’s right, we parents take pictures, lots of pictures. There may even be a collection of those pictures posted on the Internet.
Years from now we will admire those pictures. We will turn to our now grown child and ask him/her if they remember that perfect visit with sentimental tears in our eyes. If we have done our parental job right, our child will have no real recollection of the bad parts such as tears, crowds, or upset parents. By looking at the images and hearing our splendid retelling of that moment in time, we will create a better memory for them. This way our son or daughter is now primed to submit our future grandchild to the wonderful traditional visit with Santa Claus and send us cute photos of him/her with the jolly elf stranger so we can put it on our frig or use as wallpaper on our computer desktop. The circle of life will continue!
Come close and listen to the tale of the Great Christmas Elf Scandal!
Once upon a time at a local mall, they set up a nice throne for Santa to come and sit on. His chair was right there in the open, not on any formal platform with a thousand expensive displays around him, or a fence that marked his territory. Just there, in the middle of the mall, in a large traffic area. He was accompanied by one helper elf that could take a Polaroid picture of your child with him.
Now here I come with my young son in tow, and you know it, I have my camera at the ready. I place him on Santa’s lap and begin taking pictures.
“You can’t do that!” I hear a shrill voice behind me.
That sweet looking Helper Elf has turned into a crazy woman.
“You can’t take your own pictures.” she tells me.
I snap off a few more pictures while directing my little son to look my way. The whole time Santa happily smiles and poses.
“You must buy ours!” she yells at me and reaches for my arm.
Click goes another picture taken before I turn to her. “Who says I have to?”
She turns a festive red and informs me, “It’s the mall rule.”
I tell her right back in front of all the other parents, “I don’t care, it’s a stupid rule.” and turn and sneak another shot.
Through gritted sharp elf teeth she growls, “Please leave!”
Yes, only me would be fighting with a Christmas Elf! I had my photos so I wasn’t going to argue with her more. I smugly remove my son and walk away.
As we vacate the area I grow annoyed. That is unfair to parents who can not afford their overpriced crappy photos. That just stinks! So, yes, I march off to the mall office and I inform them…“Santa is a public figure sitting in a very public place for all the children to see. You can not deny parents the right to photograph their child using their own cameras!”
The man lets me vent and I leave.
A year passes and we return to that mall, camera in hand, and what to my wondering eyes should appear?? The Great Wall of the North Pole has been built! Sure enough, Santa has been sealed away behind huge decorations that form walls, and now there is a well guarded ramp leading up to him! I have been foiled by Mall Christmas Elves!! No free pictures for me!!
Wait…. Now I remember! This is not the first time a Christmas Elf got the best of me!
When I was a kid, my brother and I had what we thought was a fantastic idea to get more toys out of Santa. We would use our mother’s nylon stockings (think pantyhose without the panty) instead of the normal Christmas stockings. We giggled with delight as we pinned these long stockings up. We imagined Santa dropping in a toy and the stocking naturally would stretch. He wouldn’t want to disappoint us, so he would have to keep adding toys till it stopped stretching and that would be at least three feet in length! We thought we were so smart!
In the morning we raced out of our bedrooms to see all the great gifts in our overstretched and over stuffed stockings!
We both stopped short. Yes, our idea did work. The stockings did stretch with each gift put in them causing Santa to keep filling them. But, instead of wonderful toys, our stockings looked like giant lumpy orange pythons! Santa filled them up with oranges, one stacked on top of the other! We stood there, full of disappointment, not noticing our Mom coming into the room attempting to hide her knowing grin.
Yes, I should have remembered how tough those Christmas Elves are before I took on the mall one!
So.. when you visit a mall this holiday season and have to wait on a ramp and get frisked by an elf, you can blame me.
Season’s Greetings and Happy St. Nicholas Day!!