Santa, Baby?

Last night, we went to the mall to see Santa.

We did not see Santa.

Rather, we saw Santa, but we did not actually wait to talk to him. After about 40 minutes in line, we bailed. Kate looked at Flora, who was paging through the latest toy catalog she had picked up, then looked up at me and said, “I want to go to the playground.” I was like, “I’m with you.”

To persuade Flora, I told her we would come back with Bella, or that we would leave Kate behind with Bella. The issue, you see, was Kate. Kate did not want to stand still; she didn’t want to be in line; she didn’t particularly have any burning desire to see Santa, of whom she has a nebulous concept at best.

Flora, on the other hand, would have stood in that line for five hours.

The waiting part would have been just fine with me too, except for Kate. And she wasn’t being bad, but she wasn’t being patient, either. She’s almost-3. There is no patience in almost-3.

And I’m okay with that.

This is the first year that I have even attempted to take the girls to see Santa. I have never taken my children to sit on Santa’s lap. Not once, not even seriously considered it. So that probably factored into the “let’s bail” vibe coming from my younger daughter.

If the line were moving at a decent clip (are there time limits on the whole Santa thing? Or as long as you pony up for a photo package, do you have carte blanche no matter how many other young, impatient children and/or fussy babies are in line? Can anyone clarify that for me?) we would have stuck it out. Really. But after 40 minutes we weren’t that much closer to the big guy’s lap, and whatever interest Kate and I had once displayed was seriously on the wane.

You know what, though? Flora wasn’t all that fazed either. She was like, “Okay, I want to come back with just you, Mommy, let’s go play.”

Also? People are serious about those portraits with Santa. Children of every age were dressed to the nines. Infant boys with clip-on ties and infant girls with red velvet bows taped to their fuzzy heads; toddlers and older children in dress clothes. Flora had on a red skirt, so she kind of looked the part, but Kate was wearing jeans and a pink, long-sleeved tee that was probably a tad too small for her.

I’ve talked here before about my Santa ambivalence (and in this post, too). I hope my continued cluelessness about this whole ritual isn’t too detrimental to my kids. This is the first year that Flora has expressed genuine interest in Santa as an active entity of Christmas, and I have answered all her questions (to date; I’m sure there are more) in the spirit of the season.

Why is Santa magic?
Because he has a lot to do in only one night.

Can he fly by himself?
No, he needs his reindeer and sleigh.

Is Mrs. Claus magic? Is there a Mrs. Claus?
Yes, there is a Mrs. Claus, and yes, she’s magic too.

What does naughty mean?
It means being bad or being mean on purpose. (Flora is very concerned with the difference between “on purpose” and “by accident”.)

Am I naughty?
No, most of the time, you are nice.

Flora is a true believer in Santa. She has no skepticism or doubt. She doesn’t even worry about the fact that we do not have a chimney on our house — Santa’s magic! And she got to be a true believer in Santa with zero help from me. I don’t think I’m going to do anything differently than I have in years past.