We were given a pickup time of 11:30am, which was perfect, because I needed to run to the nearby Target for prescriptions and then we'd be back to the mall just in time. However, at 11:27am, we checked at the store and it was nowhere near done, nor was it at the front of the line to be completed.
We decided to do some mall walking while we gave them an extra fifteen minutes or so. We were not shopping, mind you, because A) I really do not enjoy shopping at the mall and B) I had two of my gift recipients right there with me and they're too old to stick things in the cart that they do not notice.
You moms of younger kids know what I'm talking about. Embrace and enjoy this time when you can Christmas shop with your kids right there with you and still surprise them on Christmas morning.
While mall walking, besides the shoe shine guys who asked me three times if I wanted my old tennis shoes cleaned up (no, I did not), we kept passing by the Santa booth. You know the one where kids in pretty clothing line up with their parents to get the official Christmas picture for the year? Well, we were actually on the second floor and the Santa booth was on the first, but we could see it down below every time we passed that section of the mall.
Finally, I was convinced that I wanted our kids to get a picture with Santa! They agreed that this sounded like fun.
So we went down in the elevator to check on prices. I looked at J and O who were not in pretty clothing at all. J was wearing a long-sleeve pink t-shirt with sparkly animals on the front with black and red jersey shorts that she had handed down to her from Z. Her hair wasn't brushed and she was wearing flip-flops (so wintry!). And O was wearing a Toy Story hoodie with sweat pants and still had remnants of claw marks on the side of his face from when his brother retaliated and scratched deeply into his cheek the other day.
But I was still convinced that this was what we were going to do. At least the kids would look like their normal selves instead of pretending to be some prince and princess I've never met. (Don't get me wrong, I still like dress-up pictures, too, but I was rationalizing in a big way.) After all, J is nine and O is nearly nine and pretty soon neither of them will agree to Santa pictures anymore, so this may have been my last shot!
We got up to the desk and found out that photos ranged from $19.99 to $49.99. All I needed was the base package. Twenty dollars it is! Where do we place these kids?
Then Santa's elf (she was not dressed up and she wasn't particularly cheerful either), had to give me the disclaimer: There was a pet event yesterday, so Santa's suit hasn't yet been cleaned yet, so if the kids have any allergies they probably shouldn't get their pictures taken. All I could imagine was Santa covered in dog hair, but then again, I'm sure our kids were covered in Nova's hair, so they'd all blend in! Go!
Suddenly, J, our surprisingly logical child (surprising because she is such a free spirit and yet she is also such a deep thinker) spoke up. She said, "Mama, if O wants to do it, that's fine, but I think I'll pass."
I said, "Oh come on... please?"
O still wanted to do it, but rationally, things were starting to add up in my head. $20 for a dog-hair covered Santa to pose with our completely unkempt children didn't really seem like a bargain. So finally I caved.
"Okay, never mind. I wanted to do it for both of you, not just for one of you."
As we were walking away, J leaned in and said, "Mama, I'm kind of getting older so if that were the REAL Santa, I'd want to get a picture with him. But I know that isn't the real one, so it's just a stranger dressed in a Santa suit and why would I want to have my picture with a stranger? That's just weird."
I said, "Yeah, I understand. Plus it was going to be $20."
She said, "Sheesh! You can take a picture of us for free."
Thank the Lord for this smart, rational child. She saved me some good money today.
But it is a little sad to think she's getting old enough that it might not be too long before the truth gets out about the REAL Santa. Times change.