Yesterday we met Santa. We did not get a photo.
We had been given the advice to go meet Santa a few times before we hand Leo over for his photo. To this I scoffed, ‘How precious, Leo will be fine, he may do his shocked face, but he wont cry’. I was right, he didn’t cry, instead his bottom lip just about hit the floor and he clawed on to my neck as if he was never letting go. To be fair, Leo’s only ever experience of Santa to date did not look like this Santa. Santa as Leo knew him was quite thin and spoke with a fake ‘I’ve been holidaying in Scotland’ accent (one of my Uncles at a family Christmas). This Santa, was by no means skinny, his beard covered the majority of his face, with only his eyes shining through a very thin, very tiny pair of glasses.
We stayed to watch some children take their turn after us, hoping Leo would warm up to the idea and we would leave with what we came for. I suggested we swap roles, this time, Duncan taking him, me somehow thinking Leo would be sensing my anxiousness about handing him over to a complete stranger, even if it was only just for a minute. This tactic did not work. Less bottom lip, more tight claws. Leo held on as if his life was in danger, just about strangling my husband as Duncan was forced to back away from the strange man in the red velvet.
We have nine more days to get a photo. Our chances are slim but we will keep trying. I used to think that getting a photo of Leo upset on Santa’s knee would be funny, a great 21st photo, now, after seeing him so scared I know that this would simply be cruel. Sure, my ego is slightly bruised as I have had to eat my words about Leo not needing an introduction session, but we will keep introducing, until maybe eventually the day will come when we can capture that perfectly timed, peaceful, possibly even smiling Santa photo.
Our Christmas’ have evolved over our time as a couple.
Some things remain the same, like kicking off the Christmas mood by watching Love Actually, or dinner with my family on Christmas Eve followed by Christmas Day on the road, alternating between families each year. But I have found that having a child adds a whole new element to Christmas. Last year, Leo was five weeks old, a tiny dot who slept, fed and had no idea about what was going on. This year, a busy, food demolishing one year old who loves presents, or at least the packaging that they come in, will relish in every bit of extra attention that will, no doubt, be paid to him.
Our house also shows signs of Christmas in the house of a toddler, rather than that of a childless couple.
Our Christmas tree, small in stature, heavy in decorations, has gone from the corner of the room, always in sight, to being placed in a room that we only walk through, placed up high, out of a certain someone’s reach. The Christmas cards are yet to be sent, waiting on the bench, along with a list of the people who are getting one. Our dining room table has been turned into my permanent wrapping station and there is a small Elf costume ready and waiting for Leo to wear.
Although I love and am excited for Christmas, getting myself organised for it with a toddler has proved difficult. My lack of organisation has made me thankful that our family now does Kris Kringle, so instead of thinking of six perfect gifts, I now only have to think of two. Online shopping and express post is a much appreciated luxury that I become very well acquainted to since becoming a parent, the thought of fighting my way through Christmas crowds with a pram does not appeal to me in the slightest.
What I love about Christmas is not the present’s, although I am confident they will be well accepted, or the much-needed family holiday that follows shortly after. What I love is the gathering of family, especially now that we have Leo, family time is so special. Enjoying the company of the people who are most important to us, that is what I love about Christmas.
In nine days it will all be over, the tree will be packed up and the opportunity for the Santa photo will be gone for another year. Next year, just like last year, Christmas will be completely different. From now on, every Christmas will be more and more exciting, the prospect of meeting a Santa may even be celebrated rather than feared. In the scheme of things we only get a few short years before the magic of Christmas fizzles out, secrets get revealed and letters to the North Pole become a silly task rather than a necessity.
Children and family really do make Christmas what it is, a joyous time. Christmas is a time when we should really consider ourselves lucky to have children in our lives. We are lucky to witness and share in their excitement, even if like us, it may just be over the plate of food they are about to devour.
[This post may or may not be followed by a different type of Santa photo in the coming days]