Saturday, December 19, 2009

All the other Santa Clauses are just imitating...

This year we decided to bite the bullet and take Alex to see the "real" Santa Claus, or as close as one gets without boarding the Polar Express to the North Pole. Northpark Center here in Dallas is known for having one of the best Santas in the country, which is awesome if it weren't for the thousands of other people with kids who want to have a chat with one of the best Santas in the country.

The process for seeing our Santa can be somewhat grueling, so we tried to go into the situation prepared. We knew that they started giving out numbered tickets at 9am and that Santa would start seeing people at 11:30, so we planned on getting there at 9, getting our ticket, and killing time until 11:30. We were running a little late, and when we got there at 9:20, we were handed Lucky Number 119. YES, 119. As in ONE HUNDRED AND NINETEEN. What didn't occur to us was that, although tickets were handed out at 9, insane people were lined up as early as 6:30am to get their tickets at nine so they could get back in line at 11:30 to see Santa. So there ya have it.

Turns out, being Number 119 was not as terrible as we first thought. The ticket man told us to come back around 4pm, but he explained that if you come back after your number has been called, he immediately places you at the end of the "short line", a line that is never more than fifteen to twenty minutes from Santa. Heh heh, early birds, guess nobody ever told ya that rule, eh?

So we figured we'd come back after naptime, get in line, and wait our twenty minutes to see Santa. But before we left, there was one other place we wanted to take Alex that day, and that was to the incredible model train exhibit that Northpark features around Christmas time. That was another thing we considered doing last year, but we decided the line was too long and figured Alex wouldn't enjoy it enough to justify the wait. This year, however, we knew it would be well worth the wait considering that our child is more than a little train-obsessed. And it was awesome. Even Tim and I were awed by how much went into each little scene - tooting trains and mechanical people and complicated roadways and train tracks. Needless to say, Alex loved it.

After lunch and a nap, we headed back to the mall to see Santa. We really didn't know how Alex would react to him this year. This is the first year that Alex has started to "get" the concept of Christmas - we've been getting into the spirit by watching Christmas movies like The Polar Express and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, reading Christmas stories like 'Twas the Night Before Christmas (which Alex can quote at some parts) and Olive the Other Reindeer, listening to Christmas music, and talking about how Christmas is the celebration of Jesus' birthday (which took a lot of discussion because Alex was convinced that Christmas was his birthday) and that Santa was part of that celebration. So Alex had heard a lot about Santa and had seen him in books and movies, but it was a totally different thing to be meeting him face-to-face.

From a distance, he looked on in awed reverence, and that was pretty much how he reacted when we were at the front of the line and ushered him towards Santa's lap. He didn't run away screaming, but he didn't exactly launch himself at Santa either. This Santa had been around the block a time or two (hence the "Best Santa in the Country" title) and calmly coaxed Alex to sit down and chat about what he wants for Christmas. Alex told Santa that he wanted choo-choo trains, puzzles, and books, and Santa took note of his requests. They chatted for a few more minutes as the photographer attempted to get a good picture of Alex looking at the camera and not at Santa's face. Those attempts were unsuccessful; however, I really love the picture that we ended up picking, with Alex listening intently to Santa during their little chat.

Santa sent Alex away with a parting gift - a sort of preview of things to come, I suppose - and Alex came home with crayons and a picture frame that he could color himself. He was very excited about his Santa experience, and now he is even more excited for Santa to come visit Grammy's house on Christmas eve. Christmas with a two year old is so much fun!


Grandpa in Peoria said...

I wonder how many kids pull this Santa's beard? Sarah, do you often read your comments? I always read mine! Happy New Year- look for mom in a couple weeks. Unfortunately, I can't make it down this time. Work.

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