BLOG: No Tears For Santa

When taking pictures with Santa, be mindful of your child's feelings.

It's time!  Time to dress your kids up in uncomfortable clothing, drag them to the mall, photo center, or open house to wait in line for as long as a few hours to get that oh so important picture with Santa.  Last year was my first experience as a parent to participate in the tradition of "Picture with Santa".  I decided against the mall and went with a photo center where I made an appointment.  I arrived a few minutes early like I had been instructed to do, and while I waited for our turn I witnessed a little boy having his picture taken with Santa.  This little guy was probably three or four years old and was NOT feeling Santa at all.  He was terrified and bawling, almost to the point where I thought he was going to throw up (You know when the snot is pouring out of their nose and dry heeves begin).  It was horrible to watch.  Meanwhile dad was standing there yelling at his son to "stop crying NOW, you NEED to have a good picture.... go... now".  It made me angry and sad at the same time.  Thankfully the photographer stepped in, preventing me from saying something, and said that they should take some time and cool down since the little boy was so upset and obviously terrified of Santa.  Who blames him really?  Mom or dad drop you into the lap of some freakily dressed man with tons of facial hair (so you can't even see his face)...  walk away and then want you to relax and smile.  It's a lot for any kid, especially toddlers who become increasingly clingy at times of stress. 

Mason and I were up next. I asked before "dumping him" off with Santa what they wanted me to do, how they wanted Mason seated, etc...  This way we could shoot quick rather than rising meltdown while trying to position him.  When I understood how they wanted him I walked him in backwards and placed him on Santas lap and moved out of the way.  The photographer went to work.  The second he realized whose lap he was in, he started crying and I took him away quickly and cuddled him.  The photographer and Santa asked if I wanted to try again.  My reply, "nope"!  They were shocked that I didn't want to try for a better picture, but why would I?  Why would you want to put your child in a stressful and unnecessarily emotionally harmful situation for a picture?  This is Mason's picture from last year and I LOVE IT!  It is unique and perfect and tells a story.  Of course as a parent we would love to have the perfect picture EVERY TIME but that's not who our kids are, it's not realistic.  Photos are supposed to be ways to capture moments in their lives.  We shouldn't create fake moments to photograph because they look better. 

I'd love to see pictures of your kids visit with Santa, and the story behind it!  Just remember be gentle with your children.  Don't make them cry just because YOU want them to see Santa...  Santa should be for them, not us!


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Jenni Pompi November 20, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Tears or no that is one darn cute photo, Katie. We decided not to take our oldest, Oscar, to see Santa until he asked to see Santa. That happend when he was 2.5, and the photo went pretty well (even though O's pants are dirty.) Oscar was thrilled to meet his "friend" Santa, and gave a sweet little shy smile. We love this photo!
Jenni Pompi November 20, 2012 at 01:21 PM
Readers - please join Katie and I and upload your kids' Santa photos here!
pgcoresident November 20, 2012 at 03:28 PM
i would highly recommend the Santa at Outdoor World at Arundel Mills. The employees there are older, and seem to truly care about the children. My then-7-year old was a little uneasy, but relaxed enough for a picture once the "elf" offered to hold her hand and walk up to santa with her. Oh and she gave her a few silly bands goodies as well.. They are GREAT!
Joe Thomas November 27, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Give me a break.
Katie Fisher November 28, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Maybe give your child a break... I'm sorry that I take my child's feelings as "his own" and completely valid. Just because he is small doesn't mean that his feelings shouldn't be taken into account. Like I said...a SILLY picture with Santa is NOT WORTH my child crying and being brought to the point of almost throwing up... if it is to you... then I am sorry for your little one and that he/she has to go through that.


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