The last few years have brought varying degrees of fear to our kids when faced with getting their pictures taken with Santa... no kidding! Pic 1 (2007, 1 year old) I was practically in tears myself as this was our first ever Santa picture. Pic 2 (2008, 2 years) we bribed him with MandM's (which you can see in the picture coming out of his mouth if you look REALLY closely) and this was the closest we could get him to Santa... he is literally running away from him. 2009 we decided to skip because of the hysteria before we even left the house, and at each time we tried to approach a Santa... then we have 2010 which had the introduction of Little Brother. This picture looks ok, but what it took to get the boys both sitting there without tears...I shudder to remember... and Big Brother REFUSED to sit on Santa's lap...
So this year, I was determined to have a better experience... because it should be fun for all involved, especially the boys!
At first mention of Santa and pictures, there were tears from Big Brother while Little Brother looked on. Then there was running through the house and hiding. So I stooped to bribery and told Big Brother we'd get a fun treat afterward, at which time he was open to SOME negotiation.
From there, we continued to talk about Santa and how fun it would be to tell him what we wanted for Christmas in the hopes that he would talk to his elves and maybe bring a much desired toy for Christmas. Alas, that too was scary. Then it dawned on me... SHOW Santa what you want! You don't have to TALK to Santa at all!
So just before heading out for Santa pictures, we sat down with the Toys R Us toy book and started cutting out all the fun toys that Big Brother wanted Santa to consider bringing him. We then created "Big Brother's Christmas Wish List" and glued the pictures on with Daddy's help.
Sometime during the fun, Little Brother woke up from his nap and wanted to join in, so we brought out a second Toys R Us toy book and began cutting and gluing his wish list. What we ended up with looked like this:
I was hopeful, but dreading the experience at the same time... and what happened when we arrived and saw Santa and put my little plan into action brought tears to my eyes, and awe to Santa and his helpers...
You see... IT WORKED!
I gently warned Santa that every year we have tears and simply have to get a picture while trying to keep Big Brother in the picture frame somehow. I added that this year we were trying to "break the ice" so to say by allowing Big Brother and Little Brother to share their wish lists.
Santa very gently lifted Little Brother onto his lap while watching Big Brother untie and unroll his wish list from about three feet away. Big Brother then approached Santa and started showing him a few pictures... and he smiled! Then we got him to sit next to Santa while Santa helped Little Brother unroll his list. By now, everyone was very quiet and watching in awe as the photographer snapped an adorable picture of the boys and Santa looking at Little Brother's wish list. They then went on to do their normal set of pictures... which I can't wait to go back and see on the 28th!
When all was said and done, Santa looked at me and the photographer and said how amazing that was, and how many more kids would benefit from having that little "ice breaker." With tears in my eyes, I thanked everyone... telling them I couldn't believe how wonderful the experience was... especially for the boys, who got to read a story with Santa and share their wish lists... and for me, because as a Mommy, I was able to make a difference and turn a scary encounter into one of joy and sharing, complete with smiles and laughter.
Side note: If you are in the area, this Santa was AMAZING in both attitude and appearance, and he will be at the Lynnwood Kiddie Kandids one more day, Tuesday November 15th. If there is even a possibility that you can go, I highly recommend that you try! The sitting fee was $9.99 which includes some pictures (didn't really pay much attention), and when you go back to see the final pictures, you have the option of buying the cd with images for $30 (knew I wanted to do this anyway), and you will get a $20 photo credit to the online portrait studio where you can print more images. I was tempted to ask for one more session just so we could keep taking a few more pictures because it was SO GOOD.
I hope you will leave a comment and share your own Santa stories or tips... I'd love to read them!