WARNING: This could be classified as a sappy, sentimental post. Just wanted to warn you:)
Sometime in the month before Christmas, I got to spend some time talking to the wonderful ladies at Memories Portraits. We got into a discussion about how people (parents in particular) have different views about Santa and how they explain these to their children. It was interesting to hear different backgrounds and perspectives. Some people don’t want their kids to “believe” in Santa because they see it as lying to their children. Some people don’t to put any emphasis on Santa because they may feel it takes away from the importance of the birth of Christ and the reason the holiday is celebrated. I intellectually understand both of these points of view and respect where they are coming from. I, however, was brought up in what I thought was the common practice of “believing” in Santa. I somewhat remember when I learned that the man in the red suit didn’t really come down my chimney and leave me presents on Christmas Eve, but it wasn’t like my world came crumbling down. I was about six years old and I found out from a friend. I don’t remember being mad at my parents. Actually, I don’t think I even told them I knew. According to my Mom, as long as you still believed, Santa still came to see you. Now, what smart kid was going to screw that up, I ask you?
I think about those things a lot now that I’m exposed to friends with different backgrounds and different ways of handling the situation. I love Christmas and I’ve come to realize that what I love about Santa is the spirit of Christmas that I relate to him. There is a great book called The Autobiography of Santa Claus that I highly recommend. I realize all kids are different and respond to things in various ways, but I’m glad that my parents let me believe in Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny.
So, in keeping with this walk down memory lane, I pulled out my scrapbooks which have all of my pictures with Santa from birth till about ten years of age. My Mom was always good about making sure she had these made and they never got misplaced. I have pretty vivid memories of going to see Santa. We would usually visit him in this little portable building that sat in the parking lot of the Kroger on Broadway in North Knoxville. It was tiny, and Santa never had a real beard. Santa criteria have seriously come a long way in the last 35 years! You had a few minutes to see Santa, tell him what you would like for Christmas, and then have your one polaroid picture made. Here is my very first picture with Santa:
I wouldn’t trade this picture for anything in the world, but it amazes me how far we have come. When we talk to people about having Santa pictures made at f/32, we discuss how wonderful our Santa is with children, especially the ones who are at the prime ages to be afraid. We make sure they know this is a private 30 minute session with Santa and that we take between 20-40 shots that they will get to view immediately afterward. I know they didn’t do any of this in 1973 at the portable building in front of Kroger. Everytime I went to the mall this year, my heart went out to all of the people who were standing in line with their children to see Santa. I so wanted to go hand out cards to let them know that they didn’t have to stand in line for what might end up being a really disappointing experience. But, I figured the people at the mall might frown upon that:)
Here are a few shots from one session of a dear, sweet family from this year:
When we were talking about our backgrounds with Santa, one of the ladies was telling me about her child asking for a hamster for Christmas. She did not want to get a hamster because it was one more animal for her to clean up after, but her daughter informed her that she would just ask Santa. So, she was faced with a dilemma and decided to give in and get the hamster. Inspired by this, I sat on Santa’s lap myself this year and gave him my wishlist for f/32…”a new building, a larger studio, a hot water heater that works,….” and well, you get the picture. He then gave me a wish list of his own (which also included a larger studio)! So, that didn’t pan out exactly as I thought it would, but I’m still holding out hope and clinging to my wishlist:).