Memoir & Life Stories

Photo Prompt #45: Dear Santa

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Dear Santa

Most years I can’t wait for that feeling of Christmas to settle in. For me, pre-children, that feeling was marked by the sweet hot scent of cinnamon mixed into fresh baked cookies and rich creamy eggnog, new snowfalls and Christmas themed window tableauxs. Additionally, Christmas wouldn’t have been Christmas without the back and forth battle of wills to participate in Santa photographs.

Every year, until I was almost 30, my mother-in-law pressured us into having a Santa photograph taken. For her, those pictures symbolized Christmas. It wasn’t something that I understood and I saw only a mom that knew, but seemingly didn’t care, that her children didn’t share her love for this activity then years later I too became a Santa Photo Mom. Suddenly I was the mom with a special photo album that a new Santa picture was added to every year. Now, not only have these photographs come to symbolize Christmas for me as well, but they also honor the memory of my mother-in-law’s Christmas tradition. With that in mind, every year I send the following invocation to Santa:

Dear Santa,

I hope that I am the first to send in my wish list. I only have one request; a nice photograph of you and the children. This request comes with a few instructions complied from my knowledge that the words “perfection” and “Santa Photo” do not belong in the same sentence:

First, please don’t let my child become that child again! The only child in the Santa line who changes from quivering with excitement to a child frozen in terror at the first sound of Santa’s jiggle bells. The child, who at the first sight of you, springs into full survival mode and completes a beautiful Indiana Jones dive behind the Santa sign which barely escapes flipping over under the force of the child’s retreat. The only child who scrambles on all fours to reach the safety of a bench several feet away.

Second, please don’t let us be that mother and child again! The mother wrestling and dragging her child toward his turn with you. The child with his feet rooted to the ground; the child that with no amount of coaxing will believe the terror of being forced into this strange man’s company is supposed to be happy and fun.

Third, please don’t let my Santa photo be the one with the child whose tears have thankfully subsided, momentarily anyway. The photo where the child still refuses to sit on a strange man’s lap, but who stands beside you casting questionable sidelong glances.

Fourth, please don’t let me be that mom who is busy thinking about how this year’s Santa photo has traumatized her child. The mom who while suffering with these thoughts of trauma takes a minute to listen to her child rambling happily about seeing Santa, eager to share his experience with his friends. A mom who is now confused about whether her and her child just lived through the same emotionally exhausting experience.

That said, I am sending in my Santa letter early.

Dear Santa, please let this year’s Santa photo be a good one…

By Shari Marshall – Edited and revised in 2020: Santa Photo Mom 2015 and Santa Photo Mom 2017

4 thoughts on “Photo Prompt #45: Dear Santa

  1. I had to smile. Any thought of a trip to sit on Santa’s lap for me as a child was right down there on my want to do list with getting a hug from a murderous clown. I was likely that child before my mom figured out that this was not worth the effort and the closest my kids ever got to Santa was via a harmless photo at best. Brrrrrrr

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