Well, it’s official! I have officially become the mom version of Clark Griswold! I already had the suspicion that I was turning into him. I love Christmas, always have. It has always captivated me. There is something so magical about this time of year and has only gotten better since having a family of my own. That being said, why do we put ourselves through some of the things we do at the holidays?
This past Sunday, we decided to take the boys to go see Santa before crowds amassed to the point where we could only see the big guy from the second floor of the mall. We woke up early Sunday morning, ate, got dressed and piled in the family SUV crossover aka station wagon and went to the store to meet jolly ol’ St. Nick.
We chose to go to Bass Pro Shop. We heard they had a good Santa and only pass out so many tickets with a specific time to see him so you aren’t waiting for hours in a line that wraps around the building. We walked in 25 minutes after their opening, immediately went to the woman wearing the very large green and red hat with pointy, felt ears. She handed us a pass for 11:30. That was in an hour. The line was already 30 families deep and many more were behind us. We figured the store was large enough that we would be able to entertain the boys until then.
They had many activities set up for the kids to play as well. Games to shoot bb guns, bow and arrows, drive a remote control car or tables to color Christmas themed pictures. We walked around the store a couple times, went to the bathroom, checked out their very cool aquarium. It started out as a fun day. They were playing christmas music, there was the constant din from the crowds of people talking and shopping. The things that were in the back of our minds were starting to ring true. Both boys were starting to fidget and become restless. The sounds, the people, the lights, the anticipation were all starting to take a toll on the boys. We could slowly see L starting to unravel as he was on sensory overload.
It was finally time to get in line and I hadn’t realized just how many people were supposed to be in line at 11:30! There were roughly 45 families in front of us when we reached the back of the line. J took the kids and let them climb all over the ATVs. (This was brilliant since it helped the kids expel some of that pent-up energy and get creative for a few minutes.) I held our spot in line. They eventually joined me as I inched my way along. A little further down, they had a table which looked to be brown kinetic sand. They called it “Clean Dirt.” I figured, How bad could it be?! Terrible. That’s how bad it could be! It left this weird brown sticky residue on their hands and as soon as this “clean dirt” touched clothing, it didn’t come off until being put in the washer. Come to find out, L learned it is very painful when you get it in your eye!
So there we are, standing in line to see Santa who at this point looks like he is melting after sitting in the same seat with screaming babies, toddlers who want nothing to do with him and dogs who bite. Yes, that happened that morning as well. J and I looked at the boys and then to each other. There was no way they could take a picture with Santa looking like that. J, being the rockstar that he is, jumped out of line and swept the kids off to the bathroom to wash hands, clean faces, spruce up and get back before it was our turn. They came back looking cleaner with a little better disposition. We whipped off the dirty jackets and tucked in pockets. This was as ready as we were going to get at this point in the day.
It was finally our turn and I was ready to take 15 pictures in 25 seconds. L could barely speak above a whisper and he would NOT let go of my hand. D clung to J for dear life, sucked his fingers and gave Santa the death stare the whole time. Looks like this would be a family photo instead of just Santa and the kids and that is just fine. The two women tried really hard to get smiles but that didn’t really happen either.
They took the picture, I collected our free photo and proceeded to find new jackets for the boys to wear out since theirs were covered with dirt and whatever the sticky substance that is mixed in.
At this point, we are done. The kids are cooked. Their attention spans are nonexistent as is our patience. I don’t think we could get to the car fast enough! After getting in the car, J and I looked at each other and almost in complete unison said, “Never again!!”
This brings me back to my original question. Why, on God’s green Earth, do we subject ourselves and more importantly, our children to this?! Why do we do these things? There was not one child I saw who was genuinely excited and happy to be standing in that line. I saw very few families who looked happy to see and interact with Santa. We do it because we feel we have to. It is one of those things people feel obligated to do as part of the holiday festivities. I have to say, I am tired of bending to fit everyone else’s expectations, holiday or otherwise. I am exhausted trying to be something for everyone else. Instead, I want to be the best version of myself by doing what I think is right for me and my family for a while. I am going to be a better wife and mother, companion and homemaker. I have gone far too long being a people pleaser and saying yes to everything that is asked of me. Some people may look at this as think I am being selfish. Instead, I see the gift of yourself and your time as something irreplaceable. And who better to give them to than the people who make life worth living.
Best of luck to everyone as we embark on a few of the most joyous, magical and roughest weeks of the year! Cheers!