Who’s the guy with the beard?

On Saturday, we picked up my youngest sister, dressed the kids up nicely, and went to a local mall for our annual Santa pictures (Lake Forest Park, for those of you keeping score). The Santa picture in my family is a long-held tradition, starting from my second Christmas when my parents, on a whim, had my picture taken with the big guy at the long-gone Frederick and Nelson department store. I was wearing a shirt with fish on it and pants, and was sobbing my eyes out (I was about 15 months old). It’s a very funny picture. The next year, I am in a nice dress with my baby slug of a brother sitting next to me on Santa’s lap, smiling.

Frederick and Nelson’s Santa has always been our one of choice, and when the store disappeared, Lamonts got Santa. Then Lamonts filed for bankruptcy, and Santa was on his own. The company that actually owned this Santa now just sets up at local malls.

Last year, we took the Munchkin and didn’t expect much – she wasn’t quite a year old yet. I am hiding behind Santa, and the Munchkin is actually sitting on my knees. The optical illusion of Santa blocking me makes it look like she is sitting next to Santa. But she wasn’t crying, though she did look very apprehensive. I had higher hopes for this year that, sadly, were dashed.

The Munchkin’s auntie, a mature 12 year old who is doing this because Mom wants it, went first. That was easy. Then we approached Santa. The Munchkin shook his hand, gave him a high-five, and then lost it when we suggested that she sit on his lap.

So, back to hiding behind Santa I went. Baby Boy, too young to care, sat on Santa’s lap and was his usual cute self. But the Munchkin, even though she was sitting on my knees with her brother right in front of her, was melting down. The Webmaster looked gamely on with auntie, as the photo elves snapped the pictures.

Now, I have worked at a photo studio (not a Santa one) and have dealt with crying children. I know that these guys aren’t professionals in the same sense that their sale depends on a happy child. But I was royally ticked off. They wanted to go on their break (there was no line), and the Webmaster was not helping to either calm the Munchkin down or tell the elves to cool their heels for a minute until she calmed down.

So, I was miffed, and I let the Webmaster know it. The elves, who are not stupid, offered to re-shoot the picture. I pounced on it, and though the Munchkin did not smile, she was at least calm and composed, while Baby Boy watched the jingle bells that the photographer pulls to get the kids to look in the right direction.

After paying a large amount of money to get enough pictures, we left, and the Munchkin got to eat her candy cane after all her trauma. The pictures should be here in a week or so. Ahh, the memories we are building up for the kids…

Update on the card and cookie front: 20 more cards going out today. If I know that you read this blog, rest assured that your card has either been mailed or will be mailed today. That’s if I know you read the blog. The Munchkin was my helper today (she can say the word “helper”, too) and we made butter spritz cookies. In fact, she took her job so seriously that when I tried to take a spatula from her (she was patting the cookie dough with it, which was okay, but I needed it for a second), she pulled it away and said, “No, helper.” She liked eating the cookies more, though, and when a cookie gets a thumbs-up from a nearly two-year-old, you know it’s got to be good.

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