Horrifying and Hilarious: The Santa Photo

BlogHer Original Post

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire... Jack Frost nipping at your nose....

There are plenty of things I think of as being traditional markers of Christmastime, both secular and religious. Most of them are very pleasant. The curious custom of forcing your child onto a stranger's lap for a photo, however, feels like an anomaly to me. I mean, I can almost understand how it became a custom in the "old days," but in these days of "stranger danger" and "good touch/bad touch," what is it about the Yuletide that makes perfectly reasonable parents find their children's terror of a stranger a primo photo opportunity?

Don't get me wrong, now. I love a screaming-child-with-Santa photo as much as the next person. I just received a Christmas card today from a friend with three small children; the oldest stands in front of Santa, looking bored, while his younger sisters scream behind him and Mr. Mall Santa maintains a cheerful grin. (Did I like it? Let's just say that I immediately cleared a spot in the center of my mantel for this card.) But it's a guilty pleasure, kind of a voyeuristic "Oh, dear, I shouldn't be laughing at this" kind of thing.

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(For the record, I took my kids to see Santa only once, during that magical slim time period when they were old enough to know what was going on, but young enough to still believe wholeheartedly. They each opted to stand next to him and that was fine by me.)

If you feel the need to get your Santa Gone Sour giggles on, the options are plentiful. There's Sketchy Santas and Crappy Santa, of course, if you like your photos without commentary.

If a slightly terrifying montage (complete with sinister music remix) is more your style, well, YouTube has you covered:

If you'd rather see some live action Santa experience on YouTube, well, Baby Daniel's mom is primed for him to cry, whereas the parents involved with this frightened gaggle of kids seem unconcerned that Santa has a death grip on the sweater of one screamer who's trying to escape. Wow. (Also, I'm pretty sure Santa lets out a huge belch at the end, there. Way to stay klassy, Santa!)

'Tis the season for bloggers to break out their tales of trips to Santa, too:

Web Savy Mom was able to bribe her son into a cute Santa photo, even if he does look just a wee bit uncertain about the whole thing. (Santa arrived in a helicopter, though, which seems like a pretty awesome gig.)

CF Mama at Nathan's Fight details Nathan's visit to Santa in photos, and I love that she shows both the first "Hey, I don't like this!" photo and then the totally adorable shot of him smiling from the bearded guy's lap. (Though I have to say, that particular Santa scares me a little. Would it kill him to smile?)

Think getting one child to smile is hard? Try four! Four Little Fultons (warning: site has music) made the visit to Santa, three little Fultons look terrified. (The fourth just looks dazed, and Santa seems way too happy to be sober. Just sayin'.)

At The Clark Family Experience, Natalie shares that two of her three children felt the excitement, but her oldest chose not to get near Santa this year. (Her middle child asked for a car, though, so maybe that explains her eagerness to get right up there.)

And I have to say I love this as a humane solution to Santa Fright: The Poco Loco Olsons avoided freaking their daughter out and got a really sweet picture by having Santa hide. No, really! Check it out -- their daughter sat in the big chair, and a very accommodating Santa peeked around the corner for the photo. Totally adorable and doesn't scar the kid for life. Genius.

Part of me wants to campaign for an end to subjecting children to this particular traditional horror. And another part of me really wants to see your pictures... especially if your kid is screaming. Heh.

BlogHer Contributing Editor Mir also blogs about issues parental and otherwise at Woulda Coulda Shoulda, and about the joys of mindful retail therapy at Want Not.

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