Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Farewell Santa

One of my favorite family traditions is our Santa Picture. Every year we trek over to the mall and wait in line to get the kids' picture taken. I have a pictorial journal of my kid's growing up and I love it!

You might think that my kids would get too old for this, and yes there have been years (and many of them) where bribery and threats were involved. But one thing that's made the past 8 years a lot easier is the Santa that has been employed at our mall.

He reminds me a little bit of the Santa in Miracle on 34th street. - the good version from 1947, because a) his hair and beard are real, and 2) he actually likes kids.

I know, what a concept, right?

The first year we saw him, he had the kids sit for the obligatory picture, and then my little girls wanted to talk with him, of course. Buddy and Hannah had proclaimed themselves too old to need a private moment with the big guy. So Santa listened carefully to Mimi and Lizzie, and asked them some pertinent questions about how good they'd been.



After they'd finished and we were standing there waiting for our picture to print, he motioned for Hannah to come back and talk to him.

I couldn't hear what they said, but she had a genuine smile on her face, so I wasn't too worried about it. Then he wanted to talk to Buddy, so this time I moved in closer to eavesdrop on what the heck was going on.

He shook Buddy's hand (and kind of held onto it) and told him that he was a great guy, and his parents were really proud of him and the things he was doing. He asked a question or two about school, and then gave him a pep talk about how important school and grades are, and how the choices we make every day - even in the little things - determine the person you will be.

Oh. My. Goodness.
I loved that guy.

Two things occurred to me at that point. First, I realized why the line moved so slowly - if he really took that much time with everyone. And second, I don't care how long that line is, we would wait in it every single year.

And every year, I've been more convinced that if there IS a real Santa, this is the guy.


Santa isn't there this year.

Oh, there's some guy wearing red pants sitting there, but Santa is gone.

You know, for a guy I've only ever seen 8 times, I'm really going to miss him. I know he was just a man doing a job, but I have to appreciate a man who's willing to really give it everything.
He could have just sat there shoving candy canes at kids all day long, getting paid exactly the same hourly rate, and it would have been much less effort. But instead he took the time to care, and to make the world a little bit better place.

I've never been a big fan of Hillary Clinton, but even before her book was written, I believed that it really does take a village to raise a child. Every single person who is willing to make a little difference in the life of a child can have an impact. Even a department store Santa.



I'll miss that guy.

33 comments:

JustRandi said...

I promise, it really IS the same Santa. You can see him aging right along with the kids in each picture.

Oh, and 100 imaginary points if you can tell me the reference I used from Home Alone.

lmerie said...

Awww, what a sweet post! Makes me want to be a Santa, maybe stranger kids will listen to the encouragement and good advice! hehe

Is it the guy wearing red pants??

Dave said...

I hope that Santa sees this somehow. I bet it'd mean a lot to him. I love the last picture there. When I was a teen, you could have never gotten me to the mall to pose with Santa. Unless I was dead, a la Weekend at Bernies.

I'll have to pass on the imaginary points. I've only seen home alone once.

Stacey said...

That was an awesome post to read! That's so great that he took the time to talk to the kids and show kindness. There is never too much of that.

mormonhermitmom said...

I'm amazed you got teens to pose with Santa. Cute pics too.

LisAway said...

I can't find that reference, dangit.

What a wonderful Santa, and a wonderful post for him. That really is neat. And your kids are gorgeous!!

The Dillon 6 said...

oh.my.heck. YOUR Santa's brother was OUR Santa in New York! We saw him 5 times...and I KNOW for a FACT that HE is the REAL SANTA!!! He took the same amount of time ~ so much so that I wanted to ask if I could sit on his lap and give him my wish list.

We've gone to a different Santa for the last 5 years...I keep hoping to find him. I even called the Mall in NY once to find out how to send him a letter. I'm that hooked on him.

I believe the Agency he works for is called "Natural Santas." Ours "lived" in Nebraska ~ at least, that was his cover. ;)

goddessdivine said...

This post just warmed my heart. I love hearing about people like this. It's nice to know there are Santas like this; and I'm sure he made a difference in the lives of your children.

Ok. I've seen Home Alone like 2 dozen times, and I'm still not sure. Is it 'he actually likes kids' or 'some guy wearing red pants'?

Heidi Ashworth said...

We had a real Santa growing up, too. It was great. I love that you had all your kids pic taken together with him every year---how neat! (I'm sorry he's gone. That stinks! But the poor guy has gotta retire sometime, right?)

Erin said...

That was really cute. I guess I will need to try a little harder to find a Santa so I can get pictures of my kids this year.

Miranda said...

What a beatiful family!

I have to admit I've never taken my kids to "the mall" to see Santa. Won't stand in the line and they were/are to shy to even walk near him. Bummer

Paul said...

Very nice post.

Kimberly said...

Oh wow...what a beautiful lesson to draw from that!

Heather said...

SO COOL! I love that you got pictures every year, and that your kids are fun enough to indulge you.

taturner said...

The reference has got to be the part about his hair and beard being real. Doesn't the kid in the movie grab Santa's beard and yank on it, asking if it's real?

Blog is my Co-Pilot said...

I'm either extra emotional today, or that story about Santa was very touching. Either way, my eyes are misty. I think he probably was the "real" Santa...at least he was for your family.

Melissa said...

What a great experience! I haven't taken my kids to the mall Santa for the exact opposite reasons... they are trying to get as many people as possible in and out. The guy totally looks fake and the kids can see that. If the REAL Santa would visit here, I would go see him :)

Amy Peterson said...

Wouldn't the world be an amazing place, if everyone did their job like he did! I love people who love their job!

The Pollocks! said...

I heard someone say today that they love the "new" santa in the mall. He told her 11 year old (who just about doesn't believe in him anymore) that he was amazed by how much he'd grown since last year. "You were only this tall last year! My how you've grown!" The little boy was convinced it MUST be the real Santa because he remembered how big he was. =) Maybe he'll be able to fill the "old" guys shoes a bit!

Yvonne said...

What a wonderful post, randi. I love it. (And I love the pictures. You have a beautiful family ; )

I miss taking my kids to see Santa--I don't think my 17 y.o. would let me ; (

Trying to Stay Calm! said...

Awesome :) ♥ Hugs!

Nancy Face said...

Oh, no! That's so sad that your wonderful Santa isn't there any more! :(

The pictures you posted are so very cute and special! :)

The Dillon 6 said...

JustRandi...I've been thinking about our Santa all day ~ and guess what...I FOUND HIM!!!

You can read about him in this article (from 1998)...His name is Jay Lewis. I Googled him and found a way to email him.

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9901E2DC103AF930A25751C1A96E958260&fta=y

Thanks for the fun memory day!!

Vern said...

Are you ready for this? My kids have never, NEVER been to a mall Santa! I've never felt bad about it until now.

joanna said...

Isn't that amazing how those little things we do and other people do can make such a big difference?!

Jennifer said...

What a cool thing to have the same Santa. I love the pictures. I wish I had mine displayed! :)

Tori :) said...

Awwww.... what a bummer. But what great memories. I hope your Santa reads blogs & comes across this one.

Barbaloot said...

This post just about made me cry. What a sweet man!

And I was all geared up to say how awesome it would be for the kids to look back on that first picture a few years down the road...not realizing until the final picture that it's been a few years down the road!! Awesome!

And also-isn't the Home Alone quote: "But instead he took the time to care, and to make the world a little bit better place"? Or am I way off?

JustRandi said...

Actually the Home Alone quote is where Buzz is listing off something ( I don't even remember what) and he lists his bullet points as A) 2) and D).

It makes me laugh every time, and I've sort of adopted doing it. But I thought I'd better sort of mention that I did that on purpose.

So I guess it's not really a QUOTE per se. 100 points to everyone who tried!

Dave said...

WOW!! Obscure pop culture reference WIN!!

Linda said...

What a touching post. We all need to be a little more like that Santa, don't we. It takes so little to make a real difference...

No Cool Story said...

Makes me :)
And then I read Vern's comment and I went :( because I did that too.

Cute kids!

Linda said...

It is amazing how the mantle of the fireplace can hold 21 years of memories. What beautiful children from start to finish. I'm thinking its in their genes.