Any time I think about getting pictures of the boys with a department store Santa, a scene from the movie “A Christmas Story” pops in my head. It’s the one where Ralphie realizes how long the line is to see Santa Claus, and all you hear are screaming kids. No thanks.
I stopped doing this after only one or two years with my oldest. It really was just like the scene from the movie. Yes, the backgrounds were nice and Santa always looked good, but I have a serious problem with patience. It’s not one of my virtues. I’m sure I have some virtues. Pretty sure. Maybe.
One of my favorite alternatives was at a Christmas tree farm just outside of town. It was nestled in amongst a walnut grove not too far from the nearby river. It had that real old-fashioned feel to it, that “over the river and through the woods” – which was actually how you got there – touch. I had gone there as a child myself, and the boys all loved running through the trees and riding on their antique fire truck. They had a Santa picture station set up, and so I would get pictures there. Then, sadly, a few years ago the family that owned the place sold it off and it closed down.
One tradition, though, likely won’t ever go away, and it, too, has been around since my childhood and before. Santa visits our church every year without fail. He comes into the social hall with a great big “ho, ho, ho!” and a clanging of bells, yelling “Merry Christmas!” The kids all rush up to him calling his name, and hugging his puffy belly. He knows all their names, and their parents’ names. He hugs the little ones, picks up babies, and pulls the ears of the older kids.
The location in the room of the red-velvet covered chair, the ages of the kids, the decorations around the tree, and the man behind the beard have changed over the years, but it doesn’t change the experience. The pictures I have taken with this Santa have become my favorite because they are unique and personal. You won’t get this with a department store Santa, and that’s exactly why I love them so much!