If you celebrate Christmas, there is one tradition that nearly every family shares. The Santa Photo.
As shopping centres everywhere pull out the Santa backdrops and put up the "Wait here" signs, Mothers everywhere start mentally preparing. From that first day I see Santa's chair set up I start thinking about "what should they wear?", " when should we go?", "Where has the best set up?", "Who has the best looking Santa?" and most importantly, "How do I get my youngest to sit happily on the jolly mans knee!?"
You might wonder why bother. Why put yourself and your children through it, especially when there is a real chance of waiting for over an hour for a photo of a screaming child running from Santa. I sometimes wonder that myself but every year I still find myself in that line, encouraging my children to wave and high five to Santa. So why?
Because when I look back at my own childhood photos I'm always drawn towards the Santa Photos. Each photo clearly shows the changes I have gone through that year. The changes in fashion, hairstyles and attitude towards Santa! They are like a small chronicle of my childhood years and should be cherished.
Because when I look at my Santa photos I remember the magic of Christmas as I felt it as a child. And when I see my children excited to sit next to Santa ("He is the REAL one!" my 4 year old whispered) I get a twinkle of that old Christmas feeling I felt as a child. Its so wonderful to be young and to believe that someone would be so kind as to give every child in the world a present just for them. Sometimes being an adult means you forget about the excitement, happiness, kindness and generosity that Christmas generates. But watching my children climb onto Santa's knee and ask him for totally unrealistic presents makes me smile and I always want to give Santa a big hug of thanks for the joy that he has brung.
Because my children wanted to get a photo with Santa. My 2 year old is still a little suspicious of the big white beard but my two girls get excited even at the mention of his name. Every time we went to the shopping centre my 4 yr old would ask when was it going to be her turn to have a photo with Santa. So one weekend I dressed them up in Christmas shirts and took our place in line. An hour later and they were still just as excited as when we first joined the line. A few times I had to use my stern voice when they bumped into those around us, but I found their excitement infectious. Which made me all the more sad watching the mother and two gorgeous girls in front. They were perfect, perfect hair, perfect dresses, perfect smiles. But she found fault in every photo. My two year old tumbled into her whilst trying to push his sister towards Santa and she pretty much growled at him. She never once cracked a smile and I felt her poor mood impacted negatively on her daughters experience with Santa. For me, getting a Santa photo isn't about getting the perfect styled picture, its about capturing the perfect moment in time when your child is still young enough to just believe. As for our own photo, it took four shots for everyone to be looking forward and I had to jump in to make my baby boy happy. We laughed and high fived Santa and have a photo to keep.
This year I had the wonderful opportunity to collaborate with my sisters and through their day care centre organise some outdoor Santa photos. My father graciously volunteered his time and belly to be our Santa and I have to admit that it was a wonderful experience to share with him. Watching children interact with my father and the beautiful smiles I captured makes my heart sing. It only added to why I love this time of year. I really hope all those children, when they are adults, can look back on the photos that I have taken and really cherish their own memories of Christmas.
And finally a Merry Christmas to you all and may you all take many more photos in the New Year!
And if you haven't already......Go out and get a Santa Photo!